This path was created by Emily Bengtson.  The last update was by Dawn Duncan.

Star of the Sea : A Postcolonial/Postmodern Voyage into the Irish Famine


When the Act of Union came into effect, it meant that among other things, the English would have control over the education of the children. Children were sent to the National Schools set up by the British. Irish was not taught in these schools, naturally. Some children attended hedge schools, secret schools where speaking in Irish was allowed. But even these schools mostly were taught in English (Darmondy & Daly 15).

Furthermore, during the 19th century, so many people were emigrating to America that parents didn’t bother to teach their children Irish as it would not be useful to them. There was also a little bit of shame associated with the language, as it was mostly spoken by the poorest of the poor. Since the English viewed Irishness as subhuman much in the same way white Americans viewed the slaves, anything Irish was looked down upon.

Today, Ireland is trying to preserve the language by making it a required subject in school and directing government funding towards all-Irish education. The last few years has seen an increase in the number of naíonraí, or Irish preschools. “Irish was made a compulsory subject for the Intermediate Exams in 1928 and for the Leaving Certificate in 1934” (Darmondy & Daly 16). The Leaving Cert is the equivalent of a kind of standardized test that students have to pass to graduate secondary school.

But they’re running into the same problem - Irish has been a minority language for so long that there’s almost no media in Irish and no real reason to use it, though there are a few Irish language television and radio stations.  Even students who go through the school program spend a lot of time memorizing and reciting poems and not necessarily understanding what they’re saying or having conversations in Irish.  However, programs like Coláiste Lurgan are doing their best to combat that and make Irish popular and more widely used.

Works Cited
Darmody, Merike, and Tania Daly. Attitudes towards the Irish Language on the Island of Ireland. Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute, 2015. Print.
Researcher/Writer: Michaila Gerlach
Technical Designers: Emily Bengtson and Maren Connell

This page has paths:

Contents of this path:

This page references: