I live and work in Gaoth Dobhair in North West Donegal , a Gaeltacht area, and I know Im lucky that I'm able to do both as many of the people I grew up with are living and working elsewhere, either by choice or necessity. I was always a home bird and therefore it never bothered me to stay, it is, in my biased opinion the most beautiful place in the world (do a search on Google images
). But its not for everyone, Gaoth Dobhair like many other rural areas has been hit hard and hotels, banks and many businesses have gone to the wall over the years.
I guess like most young people these days the children and teenagers here are influenced by what they see on that tiny screen on their phone, and image and 'fitting in' is almost the most important part of their lives. Although they are educated through Gaeilge from primary school through to secondary school, the language is just not important to many of them, or their parents. And yes I agree that the education system (not the teachers, well not all
) and the way Gaeilge is laid out in the curriculum has a lot to be desired.
The language is just not seen as important, relevant or of worth to many. And I can understand that, but to me its a huge part of my identity, I speak Gaeilge every single day to almost everyone I know, and before someones jumps in, many of my friends who have moved to the area don't speak Gaeilge, and it bothers me not a bit. They just have to understand that when I'm in the pub and if the majority of the gang are Gaeilge speakers then we speak in Gaeilge, not because we are rude or trying to ostracise them. Its just that I feel really, really weird speaking english to someone Ive spoken Gaeilge to all my life and its just a natural thing in my brain to converse with them in the language Im most comfortable with.
It makes me really uncomfortable when people try and shove Gaeilge down peoples throats, to me its more about enticing people to the beauty of the language rather than beating it into people or berating people because they cant speak it or looking down your nose because people may speak badly of it (or speak it badly).
I would love to see a time come where the stigma attached to the language is gone and people see it as a beautiful part of our national and cultural identity.
It does make me sad to see the decline and I know Im as much to blame as the next person, I'm fluent but my grandfather had a richness and wealth of words that are slowly being forgotten, words that were connected to the land and weather and nature and a million other natural things. But I guess that can be said with most languages.
Sorry for the big long rambling post, I guess I just wanted to show a different side to the language I love, it's just a personal opinion on what it means to me, and to be honest I could write a thousand thousand other words on this subject but I wouldn't bore ye. It is part of me, Im part of it. I have no interest in trying to persuade other people to learn it but if you do then I thank you because we need all the help we can get. And you might discover a whole new life outside of the english speaking world (mostly a late night sing song, and lock ins, but hey every little helps )