Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Historio de la Irlandolingvo en Ameriko la Irish Voice:

We may readily pardon “From the Hob” columnist Paul Keating for admitting in last week’s column to not being an expert on the history of the Irish language in the U.S. Indeed, like the language itself, this history has been given rather short shrift over the years. Yet, hidden history is often the most fascinating and even delicious. For those willing to plunge into the history in question, I would suggest “An Ghaeilge i Meiriceá” by Proinsias Mac Aonghusa and “Uilliam H. Mac Giolla Íosa, Foclóirí” by Tomás de Bhaldraithe, both to be found in the 1979 book, Go Meiriceá Siar: Na Gaeil agus Meiriceá edited by Stiofán Ó hAnnrachain.

An excellent English-language treatment of this topic is presented in Kenneth E. Nilsen’s essay, “The Irish Language in New York 1850-1900” included in The New York Irish, edited by Ronald Bayor and Timothy Meagher.

Of course, Micí Mac Gabhann’s Rotha Mór an tSaoil is still in print and widely read. This autobiography chronicles the author’s travels across America in the late 19th century and highlights the use of Irish among immigrants at that time.

However, short of these and other materials in print, I would heartily recommend a visit to the website of the Philo-Celtic Society/Cumann Carad na Gaeilge at The Irish language’s history in the U.S., especially here in New York, is closely entwined with the chronicles of this historic association.

When it comes to research and recording this history, enormous recognition is owed the late Barra Ó Donnabháin, who was mentioned in Keating’s article. Although an Irish immigrant himself, Barra had a deep fascination and passion for the history of his adopted country.

He was a good friend to many of us. His influence and encouragement continues to be keenly felt as he himself has become an integral and important part of this history. One would do well to acquire Súil Siar, a collection of his essays in both the original and in English translation.

Irish Minister Eamon Ó Cuív addressed the future of the Irish language while recognizing its history, including that in America. Those who would like to explore the language’s future in North America owe it to themselves to attend the upcoming conference, “Fís Gaeilge Mheiriceá Thuaidh“ to be held in New York’s Affinia Hotel from May 16-18. More information is available from Glór na nGael’s website at

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