Friday, 26 October 2018

Every EU language 'except Irish'

Irish Gaelic activists have certainly been silent in recent months about what I thought they might regard as a grievous insult to the Irish language.
Image result for irish language

The European Commission has just completed a consultation on abolishing 'daylight saving time' and in due course will produce some proposals.  The consultation ran from 4 July to 16 August  information about it was available on the European Commission website.

There will various views about 'daylight saving time' but I was interested to find the following on the web-page with information about the consultation.  This is what the European Commission said:

The online questionnaire is accessible in all official EU languages (except Irish) and replies may be submitted in any EU language.  We do encourage you to answer as much as possible in English.

Irish Gaelic is one of the 24 official languages of the European Union and Irish language activists are always keen to assert the rights of Irish speakers, so here are some questions.

Image result for European commission

Why did the European Commission exclude the Irish language from the online questionnaire?

What did the government of the Irish Republic do or say about the exclusion of Irish?

What did the MEPs from the Republic do or say about the exclusion of Irish?

What did the Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson do or say about the exclusion of Irish?

What did Irish language organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge do or say about the exclusion of Irish?

Why was there no protest by Irish language activists outside the office of the European Commission in Belfast, rather in the same way as they did outside the Department for Communities?

Perhaps some answers will be forthcoming but in the meantime I was disappointed by the exclusion of Irish because it would have been interesting to see how many of the respondents from the Irish Republic or indeed Northern Ireland would have responded in Irish and how many in English!

On the other hand, while the questionnaire is accessible in  23 of the 24 official languages, with Irish excluded, it states that 'replies may be submitted in any EU language', so was it possible to read the questionnaire in English and yet reply in Irish; and if so how many people did?  So that brings the number of questions up to seven.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Scotch Readings at Ballysillan

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Back in the 1890s Ballysillan Presbyterian Sabbath-School held an annual fete and there was an interesting report of the 1891 fete in the Northern Whig (5 September 1891). 

The teachers and children assembled at the Wolfhill Mill School and then, led by Wolfhill Flute Band, they walked to the grounds of the Wolfhill Spinning Company.

There were games, swings, a shooting gallery and a four-a-side football competition.

Image result for scotch readings murdochAfterwards there was a tea, the Ballysillan choir sang and R Diamond read Bobbie Barefeet.  

I was unfamiliar with this but discovered that it was a short story titled Wee Bobbie Barefeet and that it was from SCOTCH READINGS Humorous and Amusing by Alexander G Murdoch.

The volume of readings includes titles such as The Sittin Doon Cauld and Wha Rules the Hoose?

As regards Wee Bobbie Barefeet, most of the narrative is in English, interspersed with some Scots,  and most of the dialogue is in Scots.

The fact that a 'Scotch reading' was included in the Ballysillan fete is another insight into the Ulster-Scots heritage of the Ballysillan area.  It seems that the adults and children of Ballysillan and Ligoniel were able to understand the language of the reading and that is only to be expected.  Those who came into the area to work in the mills were coming from surrounding rural areas which were thoroughly Ulster-Scots in their language and culture.

Unfortunately much of our Ulster-Scots heritage, linguistic and cultural has been eroded, especially in more recent years and there is much work to be done to recover what has been forgotten.  

The author of the book was Alexander Gregor Murdoch (1841-1891) who contributed many poems, both serious and humorous, to the Glasgow Weekly Mail and also published two volumes of poetry.  Eventually he joined the staff of the Glasgow Weekly Mail.  

 His Scotch Readings was very popular and went through a number of editions, with a fourth edition being published in 1889.  His poetry, which was written in Scots, was also very popular and received very positive reviews, both for the quality of the poetry and the quality of the Scots.