Friday, 21 December 2007

“The Mighty Quinn”


...de la Irish Voice:

While I’ll readily admit to being often uncomfortable with the New York City Council’s penchant for engaging in foreign policy, I am favorably intrigued by Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s visit to Belfast.

While there, she took the time to visit the Irish language medium school, Coláiste Feirste and the Cultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich, a language-based community center on the Falls Road. At the Coláiste, Quinn shared her own family experiences with Irish and what her father had taught her of the language.

This, at a time when Aer Lingus has disgracefully decided to discontinue the Irish language greeting to passengers on their Belfast flights.

All too often among Irish American officialdom, Gaeilge is treated as holiday slogan at best, and a dirty little secret at worst.

When so many of her colleagues in city politics remain content to pander to the loud and incurious by embarrassing themselves in báinín jumpers and tweed caps one day every March, Quinn has shown a particular personal and cultural interest in the newly designated Ceathrú Gaeltachta, the Gaeltacht Quarter in West Belfast, and in the language itself.

Rather, Quinn represented a smarter America, a country whose third president, Thomas Jefferson, spoke six languages fluently, including Welsh, another Celtic tongue.

Whether or not she knows it, Quinn’s interest and curiosity in the Irish language place her in a long tradition in our city, which has seen organized Irish language activity for the past 135 years.

We New Yorkers have been well-served and represented by Quinn during her Belfast visit, and we should be proud of her.


One hopes that upon her return to New York, Quinn’s uncommon appreciation for this cultural dimension will lead her to consider participation in Seachtain na Gaeilge 2008 (www.snag.ie) in some capacity.

Béir bua, a Spéicéir!

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