Monday, August 22, 2016

The Lads at the Back

"Dearfá uaireanta nuair a d'fhéachfá timpeall ort sa séipéal agus go bhfeicfeá an mathshlua mórthimpeall an doras ag bun an tséipéil, gur poiblicéanaigh is mó atá inar measc. Is ar éigean, áfach, go bfhuil aon bhaint ag an traidisiún ársa sin, atá chomh seanbhunaithe faoin tuaith go háirithe, le humhaíocht an phoibliceánaigh. Tuigimid dó; cúthaileacht níos mó ná umhlaíocht, agus beagán neirbhíse croite anuas ar an gcúthaileacht chéanna is mó a bhíonn i gceist."

That's a passage from the biography of Monsignor Pádraig Ó Fiannachta, by Risteard Ó Glaisne, that I'm reading now. As I mentioned recently, Pádraig Ó Fiannachta was an Irish priest, scholar, editor and publisher who died very recently. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

I have written of my increasing concern for the Irish language. There seems something a bit hypocritical about lamenting it, or encouraging it, but never using it. On the other hand, I know I'm not proficient enough to write in it without tons of mistakes. So the only compromise I can think of, at the moment, is to quote a piece now and again. I've been reading a lot of Irish language books so I have plenty to draw from.

This is the translation, as far as I can manage. "One would sometimes think, from the sight of a whole crowd of people standing at the back door of the church during Mass, that we are mostly dealing with Publicans in Ireland [as in the tale of the Publican, or Tax-Collector, and the Pharisee]. But it's seldom that this hoary tradition, which is so established in rural areas especially, has anything to do with the humility of the Publican. It has much more to do with timidity than with humility, and faintness of heart."

If I got any of that wrong, I'm sure any Irish language speakers reading will rush to correct me. (That's a joke.)

It is indeed a well-established tradition in Ireland, especially amongst young men. Even a lover of tradition like myself can see that it's one tradition that shouldn't be celebrated.

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