Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland

ROSALIND PRITCHARD

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    19 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Irish language has long been regarded in the popular mind as a correlate of Irishnationalism. A model expounded by the sociolinguist, Joshua Fishman, is applied tothe evolution of Irish as a nationalist icon, and it is demonstrated that its divisivepotential developed only gradually. In fact, it was an object of affection and admirationfor many influential 19th century Protestants and unionists. In the 20th century,the language became increasingly polarised for political ends, and afterPartition was largely rejected in the education system as experienced by unionistchildren in Northern Ireland. It is argued that such an overwhelmingly anglocentricorientation, not just in language, but also in history and geography, has paradoxicallyserved to exacerbate the Troubles. It has alienated unionists from cultural capitalwhich rightfully and historically belongs to both traditions, and in so doing haspromoted a ‘frontier mentality’ among them. Somewhat in a spirit of definition byopposition, they are currently turning to Ulster-Scots; yet by adopting a more positiveattitude towards Irish, unionists would simultaneously reconnect with their historicalroots, and might deprive the language of its potential as a political weapon tobe used against them.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages62-82
    JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
    Volume25
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004

    Fingerprint

    language
    mentality
    sympathy
    weapon
    education system
    geography
    history

    Keywords

    • Protestants
    • Irish language
    • Northern Ireland

    Cite this

    @article{c611115928ef4388a5f21f8399e98063,
    title = "Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland",
    abstract = "The Irish language has long been regarded in the popular mind as a correlate of Irishnationalism. A model expounded by the sociolinguist, Joshua Fishman, is applied tothe evolution of Irish as a nationalist icon, and it is demonstrated that its divisivepotential developed only gradually. In fact, it was an object of affection and admirationfor many influential 19th century Protestants and unionists. In the 20th century,the language became increasingly polarised for political ends, and afterPartition was largely rejected in the education system as experienced by unionistchildren in Northern Ireland. It is argued that such an overwhelmingly anglocentricorientation, not just in language, but also in history and geography, has paradoxicallyserved to exacerbate the Troubles. It has alienated unionists from cultural capitalwhich rightfully and historically belongs to both traditions, and in so doing haspromoted a ‘frontier mentality’ among them. Somewhat in a spirit of definition byopposition, they are currently turning to Ulster-Scots; yet by adopting a more positiveattitude towards Irish, unionists would simultaneously reconnect with their historicalroots, and might deprive the language of its potential as a political weapon tobe used against them.",
    keywords = "Protestants, Irish language, Northern Ireland",
    author = "ROSALIND PRITCHARD",
    note = "Reference text: Andrews, L. (1978) The Decline of Irish as a School Subject in the Republic of Ireland 1967–1977. Lurgan: Ronan Press. Andrews, L. (1991) The Irish language in the educational system of Northern Ireland: Some political and cultural perspectives. In R.M.O. Pritchard (ed.) Motivating the Majority: Modern Languages in Northern Ireland. Belfast and London: The University of Ulster in association with the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT). Battles, J. (12th July 1998) English takes over Irish language TV. The Sunday Times. Beckett, J.C. (1952) A Short History of Ireland. London: Hutchinson. Beckett, J.C. (1976) The Anglo-Irish Tradition. Belfast: Blackstaff. Berger, P.L. and Luckmann, T. (1966) The Social Construction of Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Blaney, R. (1996) Presbyterians and the Irish Language. Belfast: The Ulster Historical Foundation in association with the ULTACH Trust. Breen, R. (1996) Who wants a united Ireland? Constitutional preferences among Catholics and Protestants. In R. Breen, P. Devine and L. Dowds (eds) Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland 1995–1996. Belfast: Appletree Press. Bromage, M.C. (1956) De Valera: The March of a Nation. London: Brown and Watson. Buttimer, N. (2003) The Irish language, 1921–94. In J.R. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cathcart, H.R. (1979) Teaching Irish History: The Wiles Week Open Lecture 1978. Belfast: The Queen’s University. Cathcart, H.R. with M. Muldoon (2003) The mass media in twentieth-century Ireland. In J.F. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Committee on Irish Language Attitudes Research (CILAR) (1975) Report. Dublin: The Stationery Office. 80 Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Clarke, L. (11th October 1998) ‘Riverdance cops’ do a jig for peace. The Sunday Times. Clarke, L. (9th March 2003) EU steps in to help save Ulster dialect. The Sunday Times. Cnamh, S. (26th July 1985) The struggle in the ‘Jailtacht’. An Phoblacht=Republican News. Comerford, R.V. (1989) Nation, nationalism and the Irish language. In T.E. Hachey and L.J. McCaffrey (eds) Perspectives on Irish Nationalism. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Concise Ulster Dictionary (1996) Oxford: Oxford University Press. Council of Europe (CoE) (1993) European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: Explanatory Report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Press. Daly, D. (1974) The Young Douglas Hyde: The Dawn of the Irish Revolution and Resistance 1874–1893. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. Deane, S. (1986) A Short History of Irish Literature. London: Hutchinson. Eurostat (1992) Europe in Figures. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Fenton, J. (1995) The Hamely Tongue: A Personal Record of Ulster-Scots in County Antrim. Newtownards: Ulster Scots Academic Press. Fishman, J.A. (1989, first published 1971) Language and nationalism. In J.A. Fishman (ed.) Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. [Page references in the text are to the 1971 edition.] Fishman, J.A. (1991) Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Fulton, J. (1987) The historical and social grounds of religion and conflict in modern Ireland: A critical, holistic approach. PhD Thesis, London School of Economics. Girvin, B (2003) The republicanisation of Irish society, 1932–1948. In J.F. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Glor na nGael (1984=85) A Survey on the Irish Language in West Belfast. Belfast: Glor na nGael. Goldenberg, L. (2002) The Symbolic Significance of the Irish Language in the Northern Ireland Conflict. Dublin: The Columba Press. Hughes, M. (1994) Ireland Divided: The Roots of the Modern Irish Problem. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Hutchinson, J. (1987) The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism: The Gaelic Revival and the Creation of the Irish State. London: Allen and Unwin. Irish Episcopal Conference (1983) Directory on Mixed Marriages. Dublin: Veritas. Kearney, R. (1997) Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge. Kiberd, D. (1988) The war against the past. In A.S. Eyler and R.F. Garratt (eds) The Uses of the Past: Essays on Irish Culture. Newark: University of Delaware Press. Kingsmore, R.K. (1995) Ulster-Scots Speech: A Sociolinguistic Study. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. Lee, R.M. (1994) Mixed and Matched: Interreligious Courtship and Marriage in Northern Ireland. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. MacDonough, O. (1983) States of Mind: A Study of Anglo-Irish Conflict 1780–1980. London: Allen and Unwin. MacDonough, O. (1991) O’Connell: The Life of Daniel O’Connell 1775–1847. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson MacGreil, M. (1989=90) Religious Practice and Attitudes in Ireland. Maynooth: St Patrick’s College. Malcolm, I. (1997) Living with Irish. In A.G. MacPoilin (ed.) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: ULTACH Trust. McAleer, P. and McNeice, D. (1st August 1999) Lonely soul. The Sunday Times. McCaffrey, L.J. (1989) Components of Irish nationalism. In T.E. Hachey and L.J. McCaffrey (eds) Perspectives on Irish Nationalism. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. McCoy, G. (1997a) Protestant learners of Irish in Northern Ireland. In A.G. MacPoilin (ed.) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: ULTACH Trust. Protestants and the Irish Language in Northern Ireland 81 McCoy, G. (1997b) Protestants and the Irish Language in Northern Ireland. PhD Thesis, The Queen’s University of Belfast. McCrum, R., Cran, W. and MacNeil, R. (1986) The Story of English. London and Boston: BBC Publications. McKee, V. (1997) Gaelic Nations – Politics of the Gaelic Language in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the 20th Century. London: Bluestack Press. Montgomery, M.B. (1999) The position of Ulster Scots. Ulster Folklife 45, 86–107. Montgomery, M.B. and Gregg, R.J. (1997) The Scots language in Ulster. In C. Jones (ed.) The History of Scots. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Press. Morgan, V., Smith, M., Robinson, G. and Fraser, G. (1996) Mixed Marriages in Northern Ireland: Institutional Responses. Coleraine: University of Ulster Centre for the Study of Conflict. Moynihan, M. (1980) De Valera 1917–1973: Speeches and Statements. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. Mullen, R. (12th October 1997) Church has a fight on its hands. Ireland on Sunday. Nic Craith, M. (2002) Plural Identities, Singular Narratives: the Case of Northern Ireland. New York and Oxford: Berghahn. O ´Crualaoich, G. (1986) The primacy of form: A folk ideology in de Valera’s politics. In J.P. O’Carroll and J.A. Murphy (eds) De Valera and His Times. Cork: Cork University Press. O ´Huallachain, C. (1994) The Irish and Irish: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Relationship between a People and their Language. Killiney: Irish Franciscan Provincial Office. O ´Riagain, P. (1997) Language Policy and Social Reproduction: Ireland 1893–1993. Oxford: Clarendon Press. O ´Snodaigh, P. (1995) Hidden Ulster: Protestants and the Irish Language. Belfast: Lagan Press (reprint of 1977 edition). O ´Tuathaigh, G. (1988) The Celts II. In P. Loughrey (ed.) The People of Ireland. Belfast: Appletree. O’Reilly, C. (1999) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland: the Politics of Culture and Identity. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Pollak, A. (16th December 1996) Poll shows Church’s moral authority in decline. The Irish Times. Pritchard, R.M.O. (1990) Language policy in Northern Ireland. Teangeolas 27, 26–35. Robinson, P. (1997) Ulster-Scots: A Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language. Newtownards: The Ullans Press. Sugden, J. and Bairner, A. (1993) Sport, Sectarianism and Society in a Divided Ireland. Leicester: Leicester University Press. White, B. (22nd February 2003) Proof that we’re still as divided as we ever were. The Belfast Telegraph.",
    year = "2004",
    month = "1",
    language = "English",
    volume = "25",
    pages = "62--82",
    journal = "Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development",
    issn = "0143-4632",
    number = "1",

    }

    Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland. / PRITCHARD, ROSALIND.

    In: Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Vol. 25, No. 1, 01.2004, p. 62-82.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Protestants and the Irish Language: Historical Heritage and Current Attitudes in Northern Ireland

    AU - PRITCHARD, ROSALIND

    N1 - Reference text: Andrews, L. (1978) The Decline of Irish as a School Subject in the Republic of Ireland 1967–1977. Lurgan: Ronan Press. Andrews, L. (1991) The Irish language in the educational system of Northern Ireland: Some political and cultural perspectives. In R.M.O. Pritchard (ed.) Motivating the Majority: Modern Languages in Northern Ireland. Belfast and London: The University of Ulster in association with the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT). Battles, J. (12th July 1998) English takes over Irish language TV. The Sunday Times. Beckett, J.C. (1952) A Short History of Ireland. London: Hutchinson. Beckett, J.C. (1976) The Anglo-Irish Tradition. Belfast: Blackstaff. Berger, P.L. and Luckmann, T. (1966) The Social Construction of Reality. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Blaney, R. (1996) Presbyterians and the Irish Language. Belfast: The Ulster Historical Foundation in association with the ULTACH Trust. Breen, R. (1996) Who wants a united Ireland? Constitutional preferences among Catholics and Protestants. In R. Breen, P. Devine and L. Dowds (eds) Social Attitudes in Northern Ireland 1995–1996. Belfast: Appletree Press. Bromage, M.C. (1956) De Valera: The March of a Nation. London: Brown and Watson. Buttimer, N. (2003) The Irish language, 1921–94. In J.R. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cathcart, H.R. (1979) Teaching Irish History: The Wiles Week Open Lecture 1978. Belfast: The Queen’s University. Cathcart, H.R. with M. Muldoon (2003) The mass media in twentieth-century Ireland. In J.F. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Committee on Irish Language Attitudes Research (CILAR) (1975) Report. Dublin: The Stationery Office. 80 Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Clarke, L. (11th October 1998) ‘Riverdance cops’ do a jig for peace. The Sunday Times. Clarke, L. (9th March 2003) EU steps in to help save Ulster dialect. The Sunday Times. Cnamh, S. (26th July 1985) The struggle in the ‘Jailtacht’. An Phoblacht=Republican News. Comerford, R.V. (1989) Nation, nationalism and the Irish language. In T.E. Hachey and L.J. McCaffrey (eds) Perspectives on Irish Nationalism. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Concise Ulster Dictionary (1996) Oxford: Oxford University Press. Council of Europe (CoE) (1993) European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: Explanatory Report. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Press. Daly, D. (1974) The Young Douglas Hyde: The Dawn of the Irish Revolution and Resistance 1874–1893. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield. Deane, S. (1986) A Short History of Irish Literature. London: Hutchinson. Eurostat (1992) Europe in Figures. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Fenton, J. (1995) The Hamely Tongue: A Personal Record of Ulster-Scots in County Antrim. Newtownards: Ulster Scots Academic Press. Fishman, J.A. (1989, first published 1971) Language and nationalism. In J.A. Fishman (ed.) Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. [Page references in the text are to the 1971 edition.] Fishman, J.A. (1991) Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Fulton, J. (1987) The historical and social grounds of religion and conflict in modern Ireland: A critical, holistic approach. PhD Thesis, London School of Economics. Girvin, B (2003) The republicanisation of Irish society, 1932–1948. In J.F. Hill (ed.) A New History of Ireland VII: Ireland 1921–1984. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Glor na nGael (1984=85) A Survey on the Irish Language in West Belfast. Belfast: Glor na nGael. Goldenberg, L. (2002) The Symbolic Significance of the Irish Language in the Northern Ireland Conflict. Dublin: The Columba Press. Hughes, M. (1994) Ireland Divided: The Roots of the Modern Irish Problem. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Hutchinson, J. (1987) The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism: The Gaelic Revival and the Creation of the Irish State. London: Allen and Unwin. Irish Episcopal Conference (1983) Directory on Mixed Marriages. Dublin: Veritas. Kearney, R. (1997) Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy. London and New York: Routledge. Kiberd, D. (1988) The war against the past. In A.S. Eyler and R.F. Garratt (eds) The Uses of the Past: Essays on Irish Culture. Newark: University of Delaware Press. Kingsmore, R.K. (1995) Ulster-Scots Speech: A Sociolinguistic Study. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. Lee, R.M. (1994) Mixed and Matched: Interreligious Courtship and Marriage in Northern Ireland. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America. MacDonough, O. (1983) States of Mind: A Study of Anglo-Irish Conflict 1780–1980. London: Allen and Unwin. MacDonough, O. (1991) O’Connell: The Life of Daniel O’Connell 1775–1847. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson MacGreil, M. (1989=90) Religious Practice and Attitudes in Ireland. Maynooth: St Patrick’s College. Malcolm, I. (1997) Living with Irish. In A.G. MacPoilin (ed.) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: ULTACH Trust. McAleer, P. and McNeice, D. (1st August 1999) Lonely soul. The Sunday Times. McCaffrey, L.J. (1989) Components of Irish nationalism. In T.E. Hachey and L.J. McCaffrey (eds) Perspectives on Irish Nationalism. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. McCoy, G. (1997a) Protestant learners of Irish in Northern Ireland. In A.G. MacPoilin (ed.) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland. Belfast: ULTACH Trust. Protestants and the Irish Language in Northern Ireland 81 McCoy, G. (1997b) Protestants and the Irish Language in Northern Ireland. PhD Thesis, The Queen’s University of Belfast. McCrum, R., Cran, W. and MacNeil, R. (1986) The Story of English. London and Boston: BBC Publications. McKee, V. (1997) Gaelic Nations – Politics of the Gaelic Language in Scotland and Northern Ireland in the 20th Century. London: Bluestack Press. Montgomery, M.B. (1999) The position of Ulster Scots. Ulster Folklife 45, 86–107. Montgomery, M.B. and Gregg, R.J. (1997) The Scots language in Ulster. In C. Jones (ed.) The History of Scots. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Press. Morgan, V., Smith, M., Robinson, G. and Fraser, G. (1996) Mixed Marriages in Northern Ireland: Institutional Responses. Coleraine: University of Ulster Centre for the Study of Conflict. Moynihan, M. (1980) De Valera 1917–1973: Speeches and Statements. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan. Mullen, R. (12th October 1997) Church has a fight on its hands. Ireland on Sunday. Nic Craith, M. (2002) Plural Identities, Singular Narratives: the Case of Northern Ireland. New York and Oxford: Berghahn. O ´Crualaoich, G. (1986) The primacy of form: A folk ideology in de Valera’s politics. In J.P. O’Carroll and J.A. Murphy (eds) De Valera and His Times. Cork: Cork University Press. O ´Huallachain, C. (1994) The Irish and Irish: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Relationship between a People and their Language. Killiney: Irish Franciscan Provincial Office. O ´Riagain, P. (1997) Language Policy and Social Reproduction: Ireland 1893–1993. Oxford: Clarendon Press. O ´Snodaigh, P. (1995) Hidden Ulster: Protestants and the Irish Language. Belfast: Lagan Press (reprint of 1977 edition). O ´Tuathaigh, G. (1988) The Celts II. In P. Loughrey (ed.) The People of Ireland. Belfast: Appletree. O’Reilly, C. (1999) The Irish Language in Northern Ireland: the Politics of Culture and Identity. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Pollak, A. (16th December 1996) Poll shows Church’s moral authority in decline. The Irish Times. Pritchard, R.M.O. (1990) Language policy in Northern Ireland. Teangeolas 27, 26–35. Robinson, P. (1997) Ulster-Scots: A Grammar of the Traditional Written and Spoken Language. Newtownards: The Ullans Press. Sugden, J. and Bairner, A. (1993) Sport, Sectarianism and Society in a Divided Ireland. Leicester: Leicester University Press. White, B. (22nd February 2003) Proof that we’re still as divided as we ever were. The Belfast Telegraph.

    PY - 2004/1

    Y1 - 2004/1

    N2 - The Irish language has long been regarded in the popular mind as a correlate of Irishnationalism. A model expounded by the sociolinguist, Joshua Fishman, is applied tothe evolution of Irish as a nationalist icon, and it is demonstrated that its divisivepotential developed only gradually. In fact, it was an object of affection and admirationfor many influential 19th century Protestants and unionists. In the 20th century,the language became increasingly polarised for political ends, and afterPartition was largely rejected in the education system as experienced by unionistchildren in Northern Ireland. It is argued that such an overwhelmingly anglocentricorientation, not just in language, but also in history and geography, has paradoxicallyserved to exacerbate the Troubles. It has alienated unionists from cultural capitalwhich rightfully and historically belongs to both traditions, and in so doing haspromoted a ‘frontier mentality’ among them. Somewhat in a spirit of definition byopposition, they are currently turning to Ulster-Scots; yet by adopting a more positiveattitude towards Irish, unionists would simultaneously reconnect with their historicalroots, and might deprive the language of its potential as a political weapon tobe used against them.

    AB - The Irish language has long been regarded in the popular mind as a correlate of Irishnationalism. A model expounded by the sociolinguist, Joshua Fishman, is applied tothe evolution of Irish as a nationalist icon, and it is demonstrated that its divisivepotential developed only gradually. In fact, it was an object of affection and admirationfor many influential 19th century Protestants and unionists. In the 20th century,the language became increasingly polarised for political ends, and afterPartition was largely rejected in the education system as experienced by unionistchildren in Northern Ireland. It is argued that such an overwhelmingly anglocentricorientation, not just in language, but also in history and geography, has paradoxicallyserved to exacerbate the Troubles. It has alienated unionists from cultural capitalwhich rightfully and historically belongs to both traditions, and in so doing haspromoted a ‘frontier mentality’ among them. Somewhat in a spirit of definition byopposition, they are currently turning to Ulster-Scots; yet by adopting a more positiveattitude towards Irish, unionists would simultaneously reconnect with their historicalroots, and might deprive the language of its potential as a political weapon tobe used against them.

    KW - Protestants

    KW - Irish language

    KW - Northern Ireland

    M3 - Article

    VL - 25

    SP - 62

    EP - 82

    JO - Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

    T2 - Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

    JF - Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development

    SN - 0143-4632

    IS - 1

    ER -