Thursday, 24 July 2008

Gaelscoileanna, Gaelscoils - no "foreigners"?


An article in the local rag came to Gombeen Man’s attention the other day. It reported on a campaign to set up a Gaelscoil (Irish language or Gaelic school) in nearby Tyrrelstown, one of Dublin’s new building boom suburbs.

According to the report, the local populace turned out in their thousands, clamouring for a Gaelscoil in the area. And no, it wasn’t just Irish language enthusiasts and Shinners, according to the piece, the parents of immigrant children were there too.

Sorry, Gombeen Man has no polite way of saying this, but - “bollocks!!!”


Let me give you some background on Tyrrelstown, as many will only know it as a name on the map. Like many parts of west Dublin, Tyrrelstown was only a townland until a few years ago. In a short time, however, a very sizable high-density urban settlement just shot up. Like many such developments, however, the housing went up with scant regard for infrastructural needs, and everything else - from schooling to transport to safe roads to walk on – was an afterthought.

Gombeen Man does not know what the exact population count is in Tyrrelstown, nor does he know the breakdown of indigenous and immigrant people, but confidently assumes that there is a high proportion of children who are - or whose parents are - immigrants. Many of these children, or their parents, will not be native English speakers – so one would have thought it imperative to school them in an environment where they can get up to speed in the spoken language of our country – English – as soon as possible.

Why, then, put a Gaelscoil in this area? Where is the “demand” coming from? The answer, I believe, is that the well-organised Gaelscoil movement is cynically exploiting the dire need for schools, of any sort, in Dublins burgeoning suburbs, to push its own ideological agenda. Gaelic speaking schools – many of which see the teaching of English in any form as an ideological intrusion – are the very last type of schools needed in places such as Tyrrelstown, in my opinion. Anyone unhindered by a purely linguistic agenda can see that the best, most inclusive schools, are ones that teach in the spoken medium of our country which is – I’ll say it again – English. This applies, by the way, whether Irish or "foreign" pupils are at issue.

Another possible reason for the “surge” in popularity of Irish speaking schools – though few will admit it, is racism. Why should there be a “demand” in a working-class area for a type of schooling, that by its very nature, will limit the number of immigrant children on its books? Go on, you are allowed to think the obvious here. The simple answer is that some of the clamour is from Irish parents who feel that their children will be less exposed to foreigners in such an environment - certainly if the following extract from a Sunday Business Post article on Gaelscoileanna, by Nadine O’Regan, that appeared in April of last year is to be believed.

One Dublin parent - we’ll call her Emily, although she wasn’t prepared to give her real name - has told The Sunday Business Post that the local gaelscoil is one she would be happy to have her son attend.

Emily likes this school not just because it’s in a good area. Not just because it gets good results.

And not just because it’s a gaelscoil. No. The reason she would be happy to have her son here is much simpler: at this school, she pointed out, “[her] child wouldn’t have to mix with ‘blacks’.”

For Pat, a former Dublin school principal who also insisted on anonymity, this kind of prejudice is not unfamiliar.

‘‘Parents’ perception would be that gaelscoileanna don’t have a high profile in terms of special learning needs or non-Irish nationals or Traveller enrolment,” he claims.

‘‘So for some parents the perception is that the gaelscoil is a better place for their child.”


No doubt there will be Irish language enthusiasts who will respond by saying “I know the child of an immigrant family that goes to my Oisin’s Gaelscoil”, and all the rest, but these exceptions are not the rule. So, if we discount the usual suspects - middle class parents looking at the increased points potential for doing subjects through Irish, Irish Language enthusiasts, and Shinners - where has this “enthusiasm” come from in relatively deprived working-class areas? Why?

The possible answer, and I’ll spell it out (as Bearla) is R-A-C-I-S-M.

There is a societal shift taking place in Ireland now, and this is the shape of the future. Gaelic has been used since the State's inception to exclude hundreds of thousands of ordinary Irish people from further education and career choices (as part of its warped promotion) and will be used to exclude foreign nationals to an even greater extent in the future.

See the links below:

Disgusting Irish racist site

See also:

Irish Nationalism and Fascism (Gombeen Nation article)

Back to Gombeen Nation mainpage

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

At last someone tells it like it is

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks for your kind words, Anonymous. Glad to hear I'm not a lone voice in the wilderness, and that there's at least one other sane person out there! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post but I think it overstretches the point. I wouldn't be an Irish language enthusiast but I know people who are and who work in the Gaelscoil movement and are certainly familiar with this phenomenon but I think it breaks down into a number of motivations.

Firstly, there is a perception, however accurate, that students from gaelscoileanna tend to do better academically than students from English language schools. That could be as much to do with the class background of most existing Irish language secondary schools as anything else, but it is one firmly held and one I've encountered a number of times.

Secondly, there are parents who have problems not with people from different races or colours in the classroom, but people with no English. I know Tyrellstown a little, and other areas of west Dublin, where there are schools with multiples of different languages but very little English language support from the Government.

I've attended meetings in the area with community activists who are concerned at classes developing poorly education wise because the teacher spends as much time teaching English as he or she does anything else. I should stress, the 'blame' in this is put on the Government not suppling ESL support teachers, not on teachers themselves or the students from different countries.

If a large non-English speaking section of the class is holding back the entire class the fault lies with the state for not providing the necessary supports. But is is racist for parents to be concerned about that?

Thirdly, there is simple racism. Parents not wanting their kids taught in classrooms with non-white children. I'm not sure how widespread that is. Anecdotally it certainly exists, both from parents saying it to me and from teachers in Gaelscoileanna acknowledging it, but that doesn't mean it's driving demand for gaelscoileanna.

Finally, on demand for Gaelscoileanna. Demand has been outstripping supply in the education sector for over ten years, long before there were substantial numbers of immigrants coming to Ireland. Gaelscoileanna are desperate for teachers, local communities are desperate for Gaelscoileanna. This is so today and was so ten years ago. I'm not sure there's much evidence pointing to a massive increase in demand side by side with massive increases in immigration.

With respect, I think you're taking a definite phenomenon, which does need to be discussed in more detail, and using it to bash gaelscoileanna a little bit.

Anonymous said...

You can't be serious? Irish may be "old hat" to you but to me and my family it is our national language and we use it as much as possible. We support Gaelscoil as they are the only things holding Irish up - standard schools don't have a good enough level of Irish to teach and I know from being in one - I had to learn Irish myself when I finished school.

There might be some backward parents out there, but the majority of people are good caring people who like Irish as a language and it is nothing to do with race.

Anonymous said...

Isn't multiracism just an instrument of American Imperialism and Zionism? The ultimate racist forces?

Anonymous said...

You are a very bitter person. You hate Irish culture so much that you'll spew any rubbish. Next in your list are the Islamic schools I presume or any element in school prog.'s that celebrate any culture. I think you are the Fascist, stop moralising on the net, from I presume your UCD computer. Roysh

The Gombeen Man said...

Last Anonymous, you're presuming quite a lot but are partly right on two counts - probably accidentally.

1) True, I hate your orthodox, homogenous, Pearse-inspired interpretation of "Irish culture". I think most if is old tosh, to be honest, and stems more from its 19th century revivalists' imaginations than anything else.

2) Yes, I am opposed to exclusive, religous-based schools, including Muslim ones. Education should be secular and inclusive, in my view.

3) My computer, nor I, have never been to UCD, TCD, or any other *CD for that matter.

4) There aren't many people from Blanchardstown who say "roysh".

Take your bitter little presumptions elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

So you propose to abandon the first langauge, although not the majority spoken language, of our nation and a key element of our culture to embrace a foreign language and set of beliefs?

You should change your username to "The Gombeen Jackeen" because thats the only place this royalist pale logic could have come from.

Treasonous West Britishness in the extreme. Bad show.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you would do an expose on those educate together schools and the fact there isn't one child from the travelling community in any of them. Not one.

The Gombeen Man said...

I love comments like the one second above. They illustrate my original points so well.

Do I propose to "Embrace a foreign language". What would that be then? The one we are communicating in now? The vernacular of the country?

As for "treasonous West Britishness" and "Royalist Pale logic", what can I say?

Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

You're the racist. Gaelophobia masquerading as poliitical correctness. Its funny how for pseudo liberals racism never applies to attacks on Gaelic culture.

The Gombeen Man said...

Interesting definition of "racist". Especially considering your so-called culture is nothing but a government-funded industry.

Anonymous said...

Racism is defined as hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. You reveal a hatred or intolerance of the Gaelic race, when you say "your so-called culture is nothing but a government-funded industry". And your culture gets no government funding?

The Gombeen Man said...

I think the idea of a Gaelic "race" is nothing but a myth. The adherents of this myth conveniently airbrush out the fact that the Irish people are a mix of different peoples and influences - and not a homogenous Gaelic entity. As a Dubliner as far back as I can trace, there's more chance that my forbears spoke Hiberno-Norse than Gaelic. But the cultural revivalists of the late 19th century ignored our other influences and make-up: Norse, Norman, Scots, Anglo-Saxon and God knows what else, preferring to promote an idealised, rural, Gaelic definition of Irishness. My contention is that such a definition is bogus.

No, "my culture" (if you mean the English language - or Hiberno-English if it makes you feel better) is not kept going by Government funding. It's the spoken language of the country, which is why - incredibly - I think education should be through that medium, especially in areas such as Northwest Dublin (where I live) where schooling needs to be prioritised to take account of rapidly changing demographic trends, to avoid lack of opportunity and deprivation in the future. And no, I don't think Gaelscoils are the way to do this. Hence my original post. So, maybe you could confine yourself to commenting on this, rather than indulging in the name calling so beloved of you Gaelgoeirs?

PeterPerfect said...

Sense at last. I am sick of the Irish language nutters getting it all their own way. And why should they get extra points for doing history, biology or geography in Irish. I think someone should take a case to europe.

Anonymous said...

The Irish Middle classes could give Indians lessons on the refinement of the cast system.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes... a linguistic caste with advantage over others in State employment and education. And we're the Untouchables!

Panu said...

It is obvious that you are yourself an anti-Irish language bigot who just uses whatever stick you find to bash the Irish-language movement.

The biggest racist in Ireland is Kevin Myers, who is, surprise surprise, even the biggest public anti-Irish-language voice.

And I am a Gaeilgeoir from Finland, with no family or ethnic ties whatsoever to Ireland, and there are lots of others like me. We are far better in Irish than the Irish themselves, and we will eventually rescue the language.

If you find an "Irish-speaking" racist in Ireland, he is invariably worse at Irish than I am, because he has no grá for the language itself, his grá is more for his ulterior motives.

Panu said...

And BTW: I agree with the other poster that you are a racist, as far as Irish language and the Irish-speaking people are meant. You have no idea of what is going on in Irish or what sort of literature is being written in Irish or what is being done in Irish in general. Yet you see it fit to pronounce weightily upon people and things you know next to nothing about. That is racism, pure and simple.

The Gombeen Man said...

Who do you think you are, accusing me of being a racist, you complete and utter arsehole?

Do you think that because you are from Finland that my arguments are somehow void? Wrong.

There is an organisation in this country for middle-class academics and linguists from abroad who study Gaelic. I forget its name. Anyway, it was founded when some middle-class Gaelgeoiri saw their State-funded Irish Language Industry under threat by immigration (State jobs requiring a knowledge of "Irish" might be harder to justify). The logic, flawed just as yours is, was that "hey, foreigners are clamouring to speak Gaelic too, you know".

I notice that the Google search query that led you to my site was "immigrants Gaelscoilleanna". Interesting.

DO NOT come onto my site spouting shit about "racism". While you, and your fellow Gaelic enthusiasts are indulging your interest, there are immigrant families in the working-class area of Dublin where I live who CANNOT FIND SCHOOLS FOR THEIR CHILDREN that teach in the spoken language of this country.

And, I will add, there are Irish parents sending their children to Gaelscoils to avoid their children having to mix with immigrant children.

So could you, and your fellow Gaelgeoiri nutters, kindly just fuck off?

Failing that, stick to the points I made in my original post. If you can.

ciara said...

Whats wrong with wanting your kids to learn Irish and to be immersed in their own culture?

There are muslim schools in ireland and I seriously doubt there are any non muslim children attending these schools. They learn about the Koran and islam which has nothing to do with ireland or irish culture. So why cant irish kids learn their own history and culture here?Why is racism such a one way street in ireland? Id want my kids learning Irish with other kids from their culture. After all, this IS ireland. We spend so much time and money on Integration and Cultural Diversity programmes here so why should this be detrimental to our country? My nephew is in a Gaelscoil and there are many non indigenous Irish kids in his school which is great to see. That is integration! However the mother of one of the kids in the school is up in arms saying that the kids spend too much time learning irish and not enough time learning English which is of more use to her son (Who moved to ireland when he was 6 with no English). Why this woman chose to send her son to a gaelscoil is completely beyond me.

When visitors come to Ireland, they come for irish culture,not the Africans hanging round Moore St so we should be encouraging migrants and their families to learn about our culture as this is where they chose to live.

ciara said...

For those of you who mention Kevin Myers and his anti irish langauge stance, the man is English so why should he care about it?

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Ciara.

Thank you for your comments, and thank you for refraining from the usual name-calling and insults that usually come from many of the people who share your views.

You mention culture. Well, I ask myself, what is my "own culture"? It's not Gaelic, it's not the GAA, and it's not the narrow 1916 definition of "Irishness". These are things I have been told it is, since childhood. But that means nothing.

"My" culture is football (soccer), popular music (punk, soul, ska, reggae, lots of others... certainly not someone in an Arran sweater, playing the uilleann pipes).

I am European, and I am internationalist in outlook. My language is Hiberno-English... not Gaelic. "My" culture is none of the things you consider so important.

On the issue of schooling, I consider the issue to be about dispensing education effectively. It is not about promoting the Irish language. It is not about constructing barriers to education.

You have said yourself that you can't understand why an immigrant mother, whose child speaks no English, sent her son to a Gaelscoil. That is my point exactly. Why should she have to?

The area I live in has a high percentage of immigrant families, there is a dire shortage of schools. So why put a Gaelscoil there? The only reasons can be those I have outlined in the original post.

So what happens if these new arrivals to our country do not get the education the State supposedly guarantees them?

What will happen is the following: working-class areas, like the one in which I live, will be ghettoised. The large immigrant population will not be assimilated, they will have low educational attainments, and poor job prospects. Cue social problems.

And who will have to live with that? People like me, who live in such areas.

For the record, I am Irish, and would not send my children to a Gaelscoil. My area is crying out for schools - that teach in the spoken language of this country - and Gaelscoils are the very last thing needed here.

ciara said...

Hi Gombeen man,
I also live in a working class area,Tallaght to be precise.
Football etc may be your culture but Im more concerned with preserving Irish culture and theres nothing wrong with that.
If we dont, then why dont we just allow ourselves to be governed by the UK again as the football teams most people on this island follow are English and British anyway.
The music you listen to is the same music Im into but Im also aware of the origins and cultural beginings of ska,soul,reggae etc

We should be celebrating what makes us unique in this world and what makes us a popular place for tourists and immigrants.
When I go to Italy,I want to experience Italian culture just as when I visit Sweden, I want to experince Swedish culture. When people visit Ireland, they want to experience Irish culture and theres something to be said for preserving that cos if we dont, therell be no reason for tourism into this country.

I went to the Gaeltacht as a kid and there were plenty of foreign kids of irish ancestry learning the language which I thought was brilliant.

I have mates who teach Irish in various organisations all over the country and 50% of the people learning are not irish.

I am glad more people are moving away from this notion that anything associated with 'Irishness' is snobby or only for the middle classes. I am working class and I love it and believe in it.Its owned by all Irish people and we owe it to ourselves to cop on and grow up as a nation and stop with the irish bashing.

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Ciara.

You don't have a motorbike by any chance? Weird question,I know. Knew someone from the same place and of the same name who did.

But on to business: I personally don't consider Gaeilge to be some mystical "part of me" It's not. My forebears just as likely spoke Hiberno Norse, or Anglo Saxon. I don't subscribe to the Irish(as in people)= Gaels formula at all, and think much of it is nonsense, to be honest.

And sure, my view was hardly helped by the State's promotion of it either - the language or the idea - and that fact I knew people who were great at school in all subjects other than Gaeilge, and had career paths shut off to them as a consequence. Maybe its supporters need to re-evaluate its promotion?

Also, I think tourists and immigrants come here because we speak English, and even in a cultural sense they would appreciate our literary prowess in that regard: Wilde, Behan, O'Casey, Swift, Sterne, Shaw, Beckett, Joyce (I knew a Turk who lived for Finnegan's Wake!!!!), O'Brien, and on to our contemporary writers.

Also, I don't beleive that 50% of students in Gaelscoils are "not Irish" for one minute. Which takes us back to the original blog and the points I made in my last comment.

By the way, although I'm a working class Dubliner, I don't hold the working class up as some kind of paragon of progressiveness. Don't the Shinners attract their support largely from that constituency?

Say no more.

FP said...

GM, I do think that you've been a little too eager to press the racism button here. It's perfectly natural that, in a period of relentless globalisation and empty, marketised celebrity culture, people will turn to more local expressions of authentic identity, and you don't go much deeper than language.
There may be one or two who do it for more the cynical reasons which you cite, but that doesn't take away from the genuine educational and cultural impulses in play here.
I don't have any personal involvement with gaelscoileanna (and I also share some of your dislike of Irish insularity) but in my view they are a step towards diversity and preservation of heritage and therefore the trend is a very welcome one. I would have loved the opportunity to attend one, and I don't think it would have affected my education in English (hiberno or otherwise) one whit. In fact, it would have made learning continental languages so much easier.
Incidentally Ciara, as you will see from my blog, I agree with your comments re football (they are probably far more widely applicable than any debate on language. But of course you don't have to follow British football to be a supporter of the game. Supporting an Irish team is another way of re-capturing local identity, and I do hope no one thinks that's racist.

The Gombeen Man said...

I wouldn't underestimate the cynical reasons, FP. Also, I'd disagree with the idea of Gaelscoils as being expressions of "diversity". I'd say they are quite the opposite, and present barriers to education, especially in areas like mine where there are large migrant populations, who might be struggling to learn English. But this is where the cynicism comes in.

The best way of learning a continental language is to learn a continental language. I have a bit of German, for instance, which would make learning Dutch, for instance, easier. Likewise French and Spanish, Italian and so on, as all these languages are related. Gaelic is not.

FP said...

Of course they are by definition expressions of diversity, as they exist in an overwhelmingly Anglophone culture.

You may not agree with them, but it is a huge leap to label them as racist on the basis of a couple of highly selective vox pop opinions. The term racist is an extremely dangerous one and should not be bandied about loosely.

You have every right to question the merits of the movement towards Gaelscoileanna, and there is something in your arguments against the educational and professional advantages given to Irish speakers, which, in any case, haven't worked. But to brand as racist the desire to have one's child educated in the Irish language is entirely over the top, especially when it could be argued that the suppression of the language in the first place was racist.

For me, in a world where everything, from sport, to music, to film and architecture, is converging on a bland globalised, marketised formula, the re-assertion of local and national identity is a very positive thing. (I, like you, would leave GAA football out of that, but that is complicated by other historical and political factors).

Embracing what is indigenous and authentic is not necessarily the same as being narrow and insular, and it is certainly not racist.

The Gombeen Man said...

FP, I see them more as symbols of devisiveness rather than diversity, especially in the context of where I live. I see them as creating artificial barriers to education. Places like Dublin 15, are crying out for schools due to development not keeping up with the radipidly changing demographic of the past years.

In Dublin 15 we need schools that are inclusive and offer education to the greatest number of children, and by that definition the vernacular is the best medium to provide education to a diverse population.

You might claim the vox pops from the Sunday Business Post selective, but it does not make the sentiments expressed in them any less valid. I have no doubt the narrow insularity expressed in them is more widespread than many who champion Gaelscoils - to promote their contrived definition of Irishness - would admit. As I've said before on this blog, I do not subscribe to the exclusive, Gaelic definition of Irishness. And the reason I love soccer is the very fact that it is global, and international. Unlike some other sports.

Also, I'm not living in a bubble out here in Blanchardstown, and I know full well that racist attitudes are rife here. So, sometimes two and two does actually make four. The actual extent of racism behind the movement, in areas like mine, I cannot quantify with precision - but I am certain it exists.

ciara said...

GB man, Ciara here again. No I defo dont own a motorbike! Im lucky to be able to aford rent these days!
I agree with a little bit that most people have to say but for me the bottom line is, I am Irish, I am very proud of that fact and delighted that in this age of globalisation and cultural blandness,some irish people who wear Celtic jerseys and sing rebel songs are finally embracing the language by sending their kids to gaelscoils. Maybe their reasons for doing this arent solely to preserve the language but it will do for now.
When people move to ireland from other cultures, they themselves are quite insular and tend to hang on to their own culture for generations so whats wrong with us doing the same in our own country? These days theres nothing to identify us from the Brits or yanks so why not embrace our own culture and not be so suspicious of peoples motives?

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Ciara. Well, you'll see from this blog that I don't share your views on Gaeilge or that view of what being Irish is, but there you go.

Just on your second last point, I remember when I lived in London (for nine years... when people where leaving here in droves for work) I remember there were Irish people in places like Kilburn and Cricklewood whose work and social contacts were exclusively Irish people.

In my experience, most Londoners were perfectly decent sorts (I worked in a print house in the East End at the time). Yet you'd have Irish people there for years who might not have an English person among their friends... I just found that a bit odd, especially as there were no linguistic barriers to integration (once you got used to those cockney accents!!!!).

So Irish people can be as bad as those they might criticise, but in my experience in London, the natives made it as easy as possible for people to fit in there - apart from nationalistic types and supporters of the BNP and the NF, but you'll get people like that every host population, who will never accept immigrants no matter how they try to fit in.

They were interesting times for me though, experiencing life first-hand as an immigrant. I think it's something the younger generation of Irish might benefit from, as the recession worsens. I personally don't think it would be any bad thing, to be honest.

Ciara said...

There are plenty of immigrants here who dont have an irish person among their friends. There are immigrants here who barely bother to speak to Irish people. Its not just an Irish immigrant phenomenon. There are chinese all over the world who dont speak the language or their host nation, instead they chose to live in their little insular environment, speaking their own language and never integrate into wider society.
If Irish people chose to send their kids to an irish speaking school in their own country then why not?

The Gombeen Man said...

Integration (and the desired educational medium of most Irish, as well as "immigrant" people) in my area will be achieved by education through the spoken language of our country - English.

Schools for Gaelic enthusiasts won't achieve this... but that's not the goal of the Gaelscoil movement, is it?
For everything else, I refer to the original blogs and the comments I've made since.

ciara said...

Gaelscoils were not set up for immigrants children, they were set up long before immigrants started coming here in any significant number. They were set up so that irish people with an interest in their own language and culture could immerse their kids in same. There is nothing wrong with that. The aim of the Gaalscoil movement is to teach kids the same subjects as kids in english speaking schools through irish, thats the way to learn it! They learn about irish music, history,culture etc but through irish.

You seem to have a total disregard for the Irish language and irish culture!
If I were emigrating to another country, Id check out their education sysyem first if i was bringing kids with me and if I didnt like it then Id not go!

You mentioned earlier:-"My" culture is football (soccer), popular music (punk, soul, ska, reggae, lots of others... certainly not someone in an Arran sweater, playing the uilleann pipes).

Well I love all that kinda music too but it is not part of the irish culture and that is a fact! Tourists come here for irish culture, not to see ska or mod bands.

You cannot fully understand a culture without knowledge of their language. There are plenty of irish people who travel Asia and Europe etc but will never fully understand the culture of these areas if they dont have some knowledge of their different languages.

Ive met people from all over the world on my/their travels and I have been asked why we use certain phrases or where do we get certain phrases from, i like being able to tell them that these sayings etc come from Irish phrases. it shows Im aware of my culture and language.

its the only thing is this globalised world that makes us any different from any other English speaking nation.
I reckon people need to get the chip off their shoulder in this country about a lot of things but irish is definitely one of those.

The Gombeen Man said...

Ciara, I think we are going around in circles here.

ciara said...

At least no one will fall off the edge.

Anonymous said...

The report on the Gaelscoil in the local paper said that there were immigrant parents at the meeting, you chose to dismiss that because it didn't fit in with your predjudice.
You don't really believe racism is behind the growth of Gaelscoileanna, you want to believe it.
If racism explains the current growth what about before the recent rise in immigration?
Was Irish language education ok with you back then? No of course not, back then you said parents were 'elitist', 'Shinners' etc. If in the future, as I hope, more children from ethnic minorites go to Gaelscoileanna, you'd just find some other excuse to attack Irish language education, the reason you dislike Irish language education is because you have a phobia about the Irish language itself, there is no other reason.

Also Gaelscoileanna are not against the teaching of English, that's just another canard. Children who get a bilingual education get better results in English than children in English language schools do, and that's true in Ireland, Wales, Canada etc and across all socio-economic backrounds.

The Gombeen Man said...

Those campaigning for the Gaelscoil said there were "immigrant parents" at the meeting.

You chose to dismiss the comment made to the reporter which explicitly cited the fact that there would be "no blacks" in the Gaelscoil as an attaction for sending her kids there.

You chose to dismiss the comment made by the headteacher who admitted racism was a factor.

Gaelscoils have been trying to limit the teaching of English. There was a big fuss about it recently.

My post is about the recent growth in working class areas.

They get "better results" because they get more points.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable!
Figures for English fluency are based on standardised tests done in primary schools, not the Leaving Cert.
Gaelscoileanna ensure that children are fluent in Irish and English, more fluent in English than children who go to English language schools are, across social class. The Dept of Education wants to change that system so that they will be less fluent in Irish without making them better at English.

There is no 'recent growth in working class areas,' Gaelscoileanna have been in working class areas for years, before the Celtic Tiger people who sent their children to them they were labelled 'Provos' by anti-Irish extremists.
I don't dismiss the comments in the story, I've no doubt that among the parents of the 20,000+ pupils in Irish language schools there are some who are racists.
I'm just wondering what your line of attack will be in the years to come when second generation Polish-Irish, Nigerian-Irish, Latvian-Irish etc start to send their children to Gaelscoileanna.
(Some first-generation all ready do btw, see below).

"2004 Rang A Dó TG4-Irish speaking school Lios na nOg in Dublin is a wellspring of Irish language and diversity. Ola and Bolu are two seven year old girls originally from Nigeria who give us a look inside the world of this unique school."

The Gombeen Man said...

"Gaelscoileanna ensure that children are fluent in Irish and English, more fluent in English than children who go to English language schools are, across social class. The Dept of Education wants to change that system so that they will be less fluent in Irish without making them better at English."

Irish language extremists have argued for "total" immersion in Irish, and have objected to even 30 minutes' a day tuition in English (the vernacular of our country) after Mary Hanafin requested 2-and-a-half hours of tuition in English in a week.

"Children who get a bilingual education get better results in English than children in English language schools do.... across all socio-economic backgrounds."

Where's your "bi-lingual" education, on the basis of what I've just said? So, do your Gaelscoil figures, which indicate that students come out of a Gaelscoil education with "better English" than those who go to a mainstream school, mean that the best way to get results in a subject is not to teach it? Fascinating. But figures can be so, depending on who compiles them.

Furthermore I am not aware that there is any accurate monitoring here of progress specific to "socio-economic background" in this context.

I can cite two recent Gaelscoils that have sprung up in my area or thereabouts (working-class areas). I continue to maintain it's in working-class areas that this recent growth has taken place.

I don't believe you know the area where I live, but can you tell me how a Gaelscoil - that does not teach the spoken language of the host nation, can be of any benefit to immigrant children whose parents do not have good English? It can't possibly be, pure and simple. In fact, it's a recipe for disaster.

"I'm just wondering what your line of attack will be in the years to come when second generation Polish-Irish, Nigerian-Irish, Latvian-Irish etc start to send their children to Gaelscoileanna.

I honestly don't think I'll have to worry about that.

Anonymous said...

I thought:

1) a lot of the Gaelscoils now have minimum quotas for foreign nationals now. (assumabley in responce to attacks such as yours)

2) And that most Gaelscoil children master English anyway, though maybe a year or two later, that goes for the non nationals too - basically because English is everywhere - Gaelscoil kids get the same marks in LC English at the end of their education anyway (1990 DOE report).

3)The English hours requirement debate you mentioned relatted only to infant classes, and the requirement was accepted by Gaelscoils from 1st class on. A compromise has since been reached.

4) that you cannot draw a direct line between any political ideology and a language like Republicanism. If I learn Russian am I then a Stalinist? German A Nazi? Chinese a Maoist? This is obviously overgeneralising and nonsense. Isn't wild overgeneralisation just like this the cornerstone of the very bigotry?

5) That bilingualism is preferable to monolingualism, regardless of what languages are in quetion.

6)that measures to encourage multilingualism in society arecriticised by people who are too lazy to learn any language as it might disadvantage them, while over 60% of the planet is bi- or multilingual.

But what would I know? I'm just an English-Irish-German-Russian speaking Shinner-Nazi-Stalinist who took the time to look at a few Gaelscoil websites. Bilingualism in children is obviously evil.

The Gombeen Man said...

The headmaster saying he is aware of parents sending their kids to school to avoid mixing with “coloureds”, and the woman telling the reporter she does so for that very reason are from the Sunday Tribune. They have not been made up by me. If you think the journalist is dishonest, I suggest you contact the Tribune and ask that the sources be verified.



1) Even if they did include “minimum quotas” I can’t see how these would be enforceable, or what real weight they would carry. Methinks token gesture. Even if they were geniuine, there would still be fewer non Irish nationals at Gaelscoils, so the central argument of the post remains. Try standing outside a Gaelscoil here and see the make-up of the attendees.

2)English is everywhere? The area in question, and I live in nearby working-class Blanchardstown, has a population mix of 50% Irish and 50% non-Irish nationals (Sunday Tribune, 4th April, 2010). Knowing the area, I would be very surprised if the non-national figure is not higher, as the area contains many buy-to-lets registered to, presumably, Irish people. A walk around the area and the local shops confirms this.

3) In light of point 2, it is difficult to fathom how deliberately not teaching English to the children of immigrant Irish (whose parents command of English may also be poor), can benefit an area like the one in question. Due to the shortage of schools in this area, many local children have to commute to Hartstown for their education.

4) I didn’t say you could. But Sinn Feiners would be most amenable to Gaelscoil promotion, as they fulfill a cultural nationalist agenda.

5)Education, in general, is preferable. Children cannot be taught through the medium of a language they, and their parents, don’t understand. Already, immigrant children are lagging behind in English – the vernacular – language skills.

6)You’re making a big assumption there. I am all for teaching languages, and the more living and relevant they are the better. I have enough German to get by, but I don’t envisage going on a Gaeltacht course any time soon.

A final point. Gaelscoil students answering the same questions, in the same subjects, as those answering in English can achieve up to 10% more marks in their exams. This is the difference between getting into Uni and not.

If Gaelic revivalists wonder about the resentment engendered in some on the subject of Gaeilge, look no further than promotional policies such as those.

Anonymous said...

Gombeen Man, A chara,

As chairperson of the Founding Committee for "GAELSCOIL AN CHUILINN", the new Irish- Medium school in Mulhuddart/Tyrrelstown I would like to set straight some facts outlined in the above article.

1) The correct spelling is Tyrrelstown and not Tyrellstown. Sorry, but it bugs us residents!

2) I am not racist nor as you descibe or a"shinner". I am a resident of the above area and an Irish speaker.My husband is of a non-national background, my sister-in-law is Indian and my niece is half-Ugandan. Neither of my parents were/are fluent Irish speakers. I was educated through the medium of Irish and would like my children to experience the same benefits of a bi-lingual eduction.

3) I initiated the first public meeting in Tyrrelstown for the gaelscoil because of difficulties in securing a gaelscoil place for my daughter in the Dublin 15 area. From this a small group of parents organised a pre-enrollment evening which was attended by over 100 people and did include non-national parents.

4) As of September 2011 another ET school will open in Mulhuddart and the Gaelscoil will open in September 2012. 30% of pupils enroled in the school have at least one parent of a non-national background.(I can provide evidence of this if you like) I am aware this falls way short of the 50% average in the general area but it is something the gaelscoil hopes to work on and improve over the coming years.

5)It would be our hope that the Gaelscoil in Mulhuddart will act a as flagship school for similiar areas throughout the country promoting a more inclusive and multi-national intake in our gaelscoil.

6) As from September there will be five ET schools in Dublin 15 and one gaelscoil. I hope you agree this number of ET schools will hopefully accommodate the number of non-national in the area. However, we hope the the new gaelscoil will also serve their needs as well.

I would love to meet up with you over coffee and discuss this further with you if you wish. I have nothing to hide. It saddens me to think you would assume the Founding Committee would have more sinister reason(s) behind our campaign for a gaelscoil.

Is mise, le meas,

Alison Carruth
Cathaoirleach ar an gCoiste Bunaithe
Gaelscoil an Chuilinn

The Gombeen Man said...

Dear Alison.

Thank you very much for your polite, reasoned and informative comment. Much appreciated.

I wrote this back in 2008 having read about the campaign in the local paper. Back then my impression was that the area was not too well served schools-wise, with many kids having to make the trek to Hartstown Community School for instance.

As you'll know Hartstown is a bit of a hike from Tyrrelstown (sorry about my dodgy spelling - you've every right to be bugged!) and I think there was a bit of a problem with regard to schooling in the area back then.

Like a lot of new areas in the Dublin 'burbs, there was a bit of a "develop first - infrastructure second" (I live in D15 myself, and Ongar was similar - there was even housing in places where there was no footpath! Residents had to wait for them - there is still one housing development on the road that runs from Hansfield to Clonee that still has no footpath to Hansfield Station, if it ever opens! It’s crazy, it really is.

I'm glad to hear that there is a good selection of schools in your locality now, and that is to be welcomed. I do, however, think the DoE are lagging behind on the subject of English language multi-d schools, as I think they only recently gave the go ahead for the country's first ET secondary school...

I still maintain that these schools are the most suitable for areas with large New Irish populations, especially at a time when the Government have cut back on English language support for the children of families who do not have good English.

I mean, English is the vernacular and if a child cannot speak it they cannot learn anything and they will be disadvantaged in education and, as a consequence, employment. I take your point about the number of schools now in your area so hopefully that will help in that respect, but I still think the powers-that-be need to get their fingers out to aid integration in Ireland in general.

I am not, of course, saying that all who send their children to Gaelscoileanna are Shinners or racists... I certainly don't believe for one millisecond that you are such. In fairness, I did also mention Irish language enthusiasts as a distinct grouping. I am also pleasantly surprised to hear your 30% figure, which I accept unreservedly.

My blog was taking up from the Sunday Business Post article which discussed the issue of racism and Gaelscoilleanna in general and how some Irish people might use Irish language education as a means of not having their kids mix with children of other backgrounds and origins (the bit in green text).

I was shocked to hear my own next door neighbour (a lovely woman) for instance, say her daughters' kids were sent to one for that very reason (Navan, I think) which she seemed blithely uncritical of.

Now I know this is anecdotal, but I do think that attitude is out there in some quarters - as the Sunday Business Post reporter and the sources quoted seem to support - I really do.

Good luck with your school, Alison, and I hope we get to see a few ET secondaries setting up in D15 soon.

And sure I'm always partial to a coffee, though not as much as I am to pints!

All the best. GM.

Anonymous said...

Panu Höglund (posting on this thread under his name) mentions you in a couple of his posts on Ireland and the Irish language.
You probably couldn't care less, but I'll write anyway. Panu is a usually interesting writer with an unfortunate authoritarian tendency when it comes to language teaching. There is a reason for that, back in Finland.
Finland is officially bilingual, but in practice about 90% monolingual. Swedish is a compulsory subject hated by the many kids who know they will have no use for it. It's not as useless as Gaelic, of course, as we have Sweden as our closest neighbour and a major trade partner. You can't get a civil service job that would involve interacting with members of the public unless you are nominally fluent in both national languages, but that fluency is mostly on paper only. A lot of time and effort gets wasted. Arguably we'd lose nothing if we at least made the subject voluntary -- it's not like the less enthusiastic kids actually learn it.
But. The loudest opponents of the official bilingual policy are nationalists as nasty as you may care to imagine. The Finnish League did expel their more openly fascist members, but whats left is bad enough, and that expelled fascist splinter has now gone entryist and joined our populist True Finns, getting four MPs. (Most of the True Finns are your basic populists: pissed-off right-wingers with no very clear agenda. Not Nazis but quite dim enough to let a bunch of Nazis infiltrate and take over their party.)
Most Finnish people probably do not care for our official bilingualism, but most also regard it as a tenth rate issue, so the only people seriously concerned are the Swedish Party (liberal and not remotely nationalist) and the Finnish-speaking bigots. The Swedish party is a very convenient little party in any coalition: they'll vote for any policy as long as the language policy is left alone. The bigots are in the margins, and I hope they stay there. Panu is letting this Finnish context (plus his love of Gaelic) cloud his vision.
--- the lurker

The Gombeen Man said...

Thank you for your very informative and illuminating comment, Lurker.

At least that goes some considerable way to explaining it all - I had just assumed he was stark, raving mad.

Once again, thanks for taking the trouble to give us the backgound.