Like many people in Ireland, I suffered through eleven years of Irish lessons and left school with hardly more than an ability to introduce myself as Gaeilge. Not a little bit shameful considering it’s the national language of the country, although it’s only spoken daily by a relatively small fraction of citizens.
All languages evolve. Irish has gone from Primitive Irish in Ogham inscriptions to Modern Irish in its many dialects. With the English occupation of Ireland, the use of Gaedhilge declined, mostly declined by mid-18th century. Speaking as Gaedhilge was discouraged to the point of prohibition in schools and it almost died out. Late 19th century saw a revival of the culture and language in reaction to Ireland becoming almost completely anglicised (English culture and language).
Irish was reintroduced to schools during political upheaval leading to independence. National examinations came into play in the 30’s. However, also during this time the written language went through a dramatic shift and in 1950’s, a new written standard was published to regulate the many dialects and new written form called An Caighdeán Oifigiúil, The Official Standard.
Shades of Atlantis is heavily influenced by Celtic legends. So, I suppose it’s not surprising that it inspired me to re-visit my first language. While I’m still not fluent, I can now pick out words and phrases in both verbal and written Irish. Enough to get the gist of a radio show at least. That’s a lot more than when I left school. It’s coming in handy as I write book three where there are references to both Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic.
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