From the Editor…

Published in General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2007), Letters, Volume 15

Minding our language

I am grateful to Ian Chapple (‘Letters’, opposite page) for giving me the opportunity to clarify our policy on submissions in the Irish language. The publication of two articles (‘Anocht is Uaigneach Éire’ [‘Ireland is Desolate Tonight’] by Breandán Ó Buachalla and ‘Cuntas Thaidhg Uí Chaináin at Thuras Deoraíochta na dTaoiseach Ultach, 1607–8’ [‘Tadhg Ó Cianáin’s Account of the Exile Itinerary of the Ulster Chiefs, 1607–8’] by Nollaig Ó Muraíle) does not set a precedent; two articles in Irish have been published in previous issues. It has always been our policy to publish articles in Irish from time to time, and we will continue to do so (four out of a total of c. 400 over fifteen years of publication is hardly excessive!).
This is not out of some moralistic sense of ‘duty’ but for the more pragmatic reason that some of our best and brightest historians write and publish in Irish. In addition, many of our readers are fluent in the language. A majority are not, or (like myself) have rusty ‘school Irish’, which is why we have always published summary translations giving the gist of the content. Thus Irish-language pieces in the magazine have never been ‘completely incomprehensible’ to monoglot anglophones, as Mr Chapple asserts.
The Irish language has suffered at the hands of both its promoters and its detractors in the past—and, if recent unedifying exchanges in the Northern Ireland Assembly are anything to go by, that unfortunately continues to be the case. While the original aim of the language movement for the revival of Irish has not been, and will not be, achieved, in a rapidly globalising and homogenising world the fact that it has been saved from extinction is an achievement in itself. In the meantime, I hope that Mr Chapple continues to read History Ireland ‘from cover to cover with enthusiasm and interest’.

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