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Language and Literature

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Irish language books are often overlooked -but present a rich tradition in both Gaeilge agus Béarla.

The Irish Language has had a difficult century. With independence came hope that we could become a truly bilingual country, but in the intervening years that hope has been replaced with a quiet pleading that the language can just last on.

The key to having a relevant language is to have a relevant culture. Irish has changed so much since I started learning it - schoolbooks now don't have to have pictures of An Cheathrú Rua or The Great Blasket, beautiful as they may be, but now can instead be full of images of Raidió na Gaeltachta, TG4, Foinse or Aer Arann. No longer merely associated with history and failure Irish has a future through the culture it has created for itself.

A huge part of this culture is literature. While the English speaking Irish literary world has given us Joyce & Wilde, its Irish speaking counterpart has luminaries of its own - such as O'Conaire and O'Cadhain. The publishing industry has gone from strength to strength, and there continues today to be wonderful titles published, both aesthetically and on literary merit. (Niall McCormack has a terrific site with details of old Irish book covers, well worth a look)

These books are certainly worth a look, from learning books to mid level Irish books, to academic and literary works, if only to know they are there - as they are so difficult to come by in almost any bookshop in the country. They are evidence of a language that remains relevant to many, and that hopefully will continue to do so for centuries to come.