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14-01-2021, 01:43   #16
Peregrinus
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Originally Posted by pinkypinky View Post
. . . Says 18% of the Free State could speak Irish (no definition on how well) in 1926.
It's hard to compare the census figures from 1926 with those of today. In 1926, almost everyone who could speak Irish had learned in in the home/in the community. Up to that point national schools generally didn't teach it or, at best, did so in a very limited way.

So people who identified as Irish speakers in 1926 didnt' have a cúpla focal dimly remembered from a primary school Irish class; most of them were people who spoke, or had spoken, the language in a domestic environment. And that makes for a much higher degree of competence.

It's true, there were people who had taken Gaelic League classes for ideological/political reasons (or because someone they fancied was taking the classes, or whatever). And even after a couple of years of Gaelic League classes you might have very limited command of the language. But Gaelic League classes had a limited reach; certainly nothing like 18% of the population.

So my guess is that the great bulk of the 18% who recorded themselves as speaking Irish in 1926 probably could speak reasonably good Irish, and did speak it or at least had actively spoken it at some time in their lives. Whereas now we have a very large class of people who studied Irish academically at school but have never used it at home or in the community, and who have pretty limited Irish.

I suspect that the truth is that the proportion of the population that knows some Irish is much larger than it was in 1926, but the proportion of the population that has functional Irish - that could engage in a simple conversation, say, or read a newspaper article in Irish - is probably smaller than in 1926.
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14-01-2021, 16:24   #17
pinkypinky
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I agree that their level would be better than now. Those stats pages that I posted do differentiate between people in Gaeltacht areas and otherwise though.

Very hard to quantify and qualify people who did Gaelic League classes.

Afaik, children were learning Irish in school from the foundation of the state.
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15-01-2021, 02:38   #18
Peregrinus
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Originally Posted by pinkypinky View Post
I agree that their level would be better than now. Those stats pages that I posted do differentiate between people in Gaeltacht areas and otherwise though.

Very hard to quantify and qualify people who did Gaelic League classes.

Afaik, children were learning Irish in school from the foundation of the state.
Almost everybody recorded in the census in 1926 had been to school before the foundation of the state.

(Plus, if only because of the need first of all to train teachers to speak Irish, it was quite some time after the foundation of the state before all national schools were teaching Irish.)
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18-01-2021, 11:03   #19
tabbey
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Originally Posted by Peregrinus View Post
Almost everybody recorded in the census in 1926 had been to school before the foundation of the state.

(Plus, if only because of the need first of all to train teachers to speak Irish, it was quite some time after the foundation of the state before all national schools were teaching Irish.)
The Irish language was very much a minority tongue by 1850, chiefly found on the western seaboard. In much of Munster, the less educated spoke a type of English influenced by the Irish of their forebears, hiberno-english, so perhaps could be deemed bilingual.
In the early 20th century, many people learned Irish at Gaelic league classes, they may have been small in numbers but passionate about the language and would have passed this onto the children. By 1922 every child under 11 was obliged to learn Irish, some schools started teaching it even earlier.
As compliance with the new national agenda was essential for progress especially in the public service, people would have emphasized their knowledge of and willingness to use Irish. Not withstanding the supposed secrecy of the census, nobody could be certain of it, so tended to claim a knowledge of Irish, just in case.
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