We wonder how students who sit Leaving Certificate Irish (and indeed achieve A1 honours in certain cases) still cannot converse fluently in the language.
There is no ‘focal Gaeilge’ to be heard outside the classroom confines or no Irish centre where people could meet and speak Irish comfortably and struggling students could sit in and listen to the spoken word.
There is no such facility in Cork city or county, outside Gaeltacht regions. We can send our students off for three weeks to the Gaeltacht. Many parents save funds for this each year, but it is a waste of time and money when the child returns home with nowhere to keep up the art of ‘canúint álainn na Gaeilge’.
Some of us work voluntarily to keep the language alive and try to help exam students, but surely Government departments should provide more funded outlets for the upkeep and nourishment of Irish?
It is unfair to have an Irish group paying out of their own pockets a fee of €15 per hour to rent a small room where they can meet to promote our native language while huge grants are given to Foras na Gaeilge and other Government agencies to establish Irish centres abroad and to (deservedly) nourish Gaeltacht regions.
But what about us, sinking in the quicksand of ‘Béarlachas’ and students like Sonya clinging to their Ó Dónaill Foclóir to find the cúpla focal for that Irish essay that will pass an Irish State exam for them?
Mo ghraidhin go deo iad.
Eilís Uí Bhriain
Caisleán Uí Liatháin