From An Claidheamh Soluis, February 7, 1914.
Can we Gaelicise Ireland? Can we counteract the countless influences which are daily turning us into West Britons? Can we succeed, not only in stemming the tide of Anglicisation, but in turning it, and in converting a population of semi-slaves into a Gaelic Nation?
These are the questions that should occupy the attention of every one who is seriously interested in Ireland’s future. And they are of such transcendent importance that a generation which England in the pursuit of her policy has deliberately miseducated, can hardly be expected to realise it.
If the Gaelic Revival fails, Ireland has no more chance of taking her place among the nations than Oklahoma has. Ireland may get Home Rule which Oklahoma has now, we may achieve that national prosperity which Oklahoma already enjoys, wages may rise in Ireland even to the point which now prevails in the Woolly West, but an English-speaking Ireland or an English speaking Oklahoma is not and never will be a nation.
This is a hard fact which no amount of sophistry or special pleading can change. It may be regrettable, but it is so. Let us recognise it.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
How, then, can we re-Gaelicise Ireland? How can we overcome the myriad influences by which England is deliberately undermining the foundations of Irish Nationhood?
Not by evening classes at any rate. It has been calculated that a teaching organisation possessing 2,000 working branches and an income of £50,000 a year, couldn’t teach Irish to four million people in less than a century. We haven’t 2,000 working branches, we haven’t £50,000 a year, and we are not going to wait a century.
Irish can only be restored through the same agency that banished it, and the agency that did more than all other agencies to banish it is the alleged “Educational” system as devised for us by our English masters and administered by their Irish nominees who are styled Commissioners.
That the purpose of this system is to turn potential Irishmen into imitation Englishmen is not openly admitted. The genial Secretaries who are paid for keeping us misinformed, periodically deny that their objects are those of Elizabeth and Cromwell.
Having, by the absolute prohibition of Irish during two generations, made the language so scarce today that its revival is problematical, they can unblushingly claim to be its friends.
SAVE US FROM OUR “FRIENDS.”
So, when a deputation too influential to be kicked out, mildly urges the desirability of Irish children in Irish schools being taught the Irish language, the urbane official gravely replies that this very reform has been the ambition of his life, and then, with a solemnity acquired by years of practice he enumerates twenty different obstacles which prevent the realization of his dream. Within the year for instance, several such deputations have been politely received and tearfully dismissed by the officials with a series of explanations which wouldn’t satisfy an intelligent baby.
Stripped of superfluous verbiage, the latest argument of the English Government, through its mouthpieces, the Commissioners, is that Irish cannot be taught in the schools because the teachers have not been trained to teach it. When you ask why the teachers are not being trained to teach it, you are told that that is not necessary since Irish is not being taught in the schools. Similarly, Irish cannot be made a subject for the Civil Service until the candidate can learn it, and obviously the candidate cannot learn it in the absence of schools to teach them.
THE PARENTS AS A SCAPEGOAT.
It is true that Bishop O’Dwyer of Limerick has recently been informed that the obstacle to the teaching of Irish is not the West British Boards, but the apathy of the Irish parents. The credibility of Dr. O’Dwyer, however, only proves that he is too guiltless for this wicked world. Has the apathy of the parents prevented drawing from being compulsory in our schools? Was it owing to the enthusiasm of the parents that singing was made part of the curriculum? Was there any frenzied public demand for the introduction of the “science” of folding paper or of drill?
If we really mean to restore our language, let us give up arguing in circles and let us get down to business. To get Irish in the schools, it is obvious that we must first make it essential in the Training Colleges.
Let us begin with that and let us concentrate on it. Also let us understand that when we achieve it, it will be in spite of the officials and not as a concession from them.
It is time that those who propose to make Ireland Irish, declared open war upon those who are paid to make it English. We need have no fear for the result.