An Claidheamh Soluis
Seosamh Ó Cuaig
(Is téacs tras-scríofa é seo d’alt a foilsíodh in Iris an Phléaráca, 1997. Níor athraíodh an téacs seo ón mbunleagan.)
Seo píosa a casadh dhom le ghairid sa bpáipéar a bhí ag Conradh na Gaeilge i dtús an chéid - An Claidheamh Soluis. Bá é Pádraig Mac Piarais a bhí ina eagarthóir nuair a foilsíodh é, i mí Dheireadh Fómhair 1906. Tá sé ionann is a bheith cinnte gurbh é féin a scríobh é. Ní amadán ar bith a bhí sa bPiarsach. An t-aon locht a gheobhfá ar an leagan amach a bhí aige ar an scéal, an abairt sin faoin mBéarla -"knowledge of English which is imagined to be so necessary for one who has to make his way in the world." Ní imagination a bhí ann, ar ndóigh, ach dearg riachtanas. Bhí an-bharúil aige do chúis na Gaeilge i Ros Muc ag an am ar chuma ar bith. Céard a déarfadh sé inniu, meas tú?
"Irish-speaking parents continue to speak English to their children less from any set design than because they have fallen intohe habit of it. If you reason with them on the matter they will admit all your arguments with the greatest frankness. They will agree with you that their children ought, on national and other grounds to know lrish; that a knowledge of lrish is not incompatible with that knowledge of English which is imagined to be so necessary for one who has to "make his way in the world"; that the schoolmaster has better English than them (the parents) and that if the English part of the children's education is left to him it runs no possible danger of being neglected. All this will be blandy admitted by almost every lrish-speaking mother with whom you stand for a seanchus at a cottage door. She will even expand and illustrate the argument for you in a wealth of forcible and picturesque Irish, which makes you positively envious. ln the middle of the comhrádh Patcheen tumbles in the mud or Máirín pinches the baby. Instantly the mother forgetting all that she has just being admitting – turns around with a "Musha ye have my heart broke Patcheen" or a "Is it at the child y'are agin, Máirín?" We have here an amazinng and an almost baffling problem in psychology. Has the woman being simply pretending to agree with you out of lrish politeness? Has she, happily , being poking fun at you? Or does English come from the lips quite undeliberately and from pure force of habit the instance she turns to address her child? The last-named seems to be the only tenable explanation.
It has grown to be an instinct with the majority of lrish speakers to use lrish when speaking to adults and English when speaking to children.They are hardly conscious that they differentiate in the matter. They have done it all their lives. They do it now in spite of their conviction that they ought not to do it.
It is this that is killing the Irish language in its last strongholds. The custom is all but universal in the Déise. We have observed it in Baile na nGall. We have observed it in Baile Mhúirne, within a hundred yards of the spendid League Hall erected by An Dochtúir. We have observed it in Béal Átha an Ghaorthaigh. We have observed it in Ara na Naomh. We have observed it throughout wide stretches of Conamara, more especially North Conamara. We observed it Iast week in Tír Chonaill. The only considerable district with which we are acquainted in which the practice has not yet gained a footing is Ros Muc. Who will rise up to preach throughout the Gaedhealtacht a crusade against a habit which if opersisted in for another generation, will have annihilated the Irish language? The efforts of ten or twelve League Timthirí can avail but little. The work of twenty or thirty múinteoirí taistil scattered through the Irish-speaking territory will prove hardly more far-reaching. The stray holiday-making Gaelic Leaguer stopping to argue at cottage doors is sublime, heroic, but pathetically ineffective. Work in the schools scarcely reaches the parents at all. There is one influence, and one influence only - an influence always present, an influence all but omnipotent - which can substantially affect the situation: the Church. A crusade preached for twelve months from the altars of the Irish-speaking districts would kill the habit of speaking English to children. The killing of that habit would mean the saving of the life of the Irish language. There are some who hold that it would also mean the saving of Irelang to the Church."
An Claidheamh Soluis (1906)