Gael force to be reckoned with
Published: 27 Sep 2012 13:000 comments
And 165 years after his death the sharp tongue of O'Connell, a formidable political leader, still riles those who are passionate about speaking Irish.
"It was unfortunate that historical figures compounded the colonist idea. What O'Connell said didn't do the language any good," admits Thomas Maguire, a fluent Irish-speaker.
The Sinn Fein councillor from Enniskillen is a member of Sruth an hÉirne, an Irish-speaking group that was set up in 2005 and has since flourished into something very special indeed.
"Why is it called Sruth an hÉirne? Because the name means the stream of the Erne. We want the language to stream, to flow. We are not doing it to show off and it certainly isn't being done to confront anyone. It is to try and make Irish as naturally as possible. There is a desire to learn it."
The group meets every Wednesday night at Blakes of the Hollow, one of the town's oldest pubs, where they discuss life and language over a few pints. But don't be fooled into thinking this Irish language group is confined to the pubs - or the past - because that would be "missing the point".
"This isn't about sitting around like people did in the old days and speaking in Irish. This isn't about going to a farmer's house in the evening and sitting around the fire. That type of image is wrong. The significance of the old pub isn't how old it is. The significance is we are getting the Irish language out there to the centre of the town. We are not trying to do this to be nostalgic and we are not trying to promote this as a nostalgic language either. It is a social event," he said.
The emphasis across Ireland, North and South, is that the language is alive, says Mr Maguire.
"It is a vibrant language. We aren't looking back at it, we are looking forward, especially with the blossoming of all the little Gaels clubs around the county. It is useful for young people because it covers all aspects of life. Take a dander around the internet and you can do anything in Irish; use Facebook, read articles on Wikipedia."
Mr Maguire says looking ahead to the future and encouraging young people to get involved is important for the group.
"There is an onus on us, the older guys, to create an Irish-speaking community," he says, before adding: "It is not being done for tokenism but to promote a very rich culture".
He recalls sitting in a local pub and speaking to a young man for 45 minutes in Irish.
"There wasn't one bit of English spoken in that time. On another occasion I remember standing on the steps of the Townhall, too, and someone went past and I engaged with them in Irish. If you want to have a conversation -- two people is enough. That's our group's motto," he added.
Mr Maguire says he would prefer if Irish didn't create an impact in Fermanagh, but that others acknowledged that many people of all backgrounds speak it.
Commentscomments powered by Disqus
Get more stories from our Roundup section
8 Dec 2013 14:30 • Editorial Department
A 32-year-old pregnant mother of three has lost her baby while in prison awaiting trial for the burglary of the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.
8 Dec 2013 12:00 • Editorial Department
First place in this year’s Soroptimist International Enniskillen and District Annual Youth Award Public Speaking Competition was awarded to Siobhan Kerr, a pupil at Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School.
8 Dec 2013 09:00 • Editorial Department
The first woman to be appointed a bishop in the Anglican church in the British Isles, has local connections.
7 Dec 2013 20:30 • Editorial Department
A 23-year-old man had his teeth knocked out in what he claimed was a “sectarian” attack in Lisnaskea last Christmas.
7 Dec 2013 19:49 • Meadhbh Monahan
“I was beaten with a baseball bat with nails on it, in the dark, at 4am; [deciding whether to protest at a frack site] is a big challenge for parents and a big decision to make.” That was one message given to over 100 people who attended a Ban Fracking Fermanagh meeting in the Railway Hotel today (Saturday), from Tara Canon from Bundoran, who protested for two years against a motorway going through The Hill of Tara in County Meath.
7 Dec 2013 17:16
Ballinamallard claimed the points at Ferney Park today as Davy Kee's 69th minute goal earned them the victory against Ards.
7 Dec 2013 14:15 • Rodney Edwards
A man in his early fifties has died following an accident in Lisnaskea this morning (Saturday).
7 Dec 2013 14:00 • Editorial Department
FERMANAGH District Council has vowed to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the workers at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Enniskillen following the news that the organisation has introduced a voluntary redundancy scheme.
7 Dec 2013 11:30 • Rodney Edwards
A YOUNG mother struggling to keep her home warm turns the heating off when her children are out and wears an extra jumper.
7 Dec 2013 09:00 • Editorial Department
HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots says he will continue to challenge the Western Trust when he needs to get answers on issues in Fermanagh.
6 Dec 2013 21:30 • Julie Kenwell
A substantial infestation of Japanese knotweed could spell “dire consequences” for Fermanagh property owners, a weed management company has warned.
6 Dec 2013 18:00 • Lily Dane
‘One hundred years young’ would certainly be an apt description for sprightly centenarian, James McDonnell, from outside Irvinestown.
6 Dec 2013 17:00
Our photographer John McVitty captured this stunning rainbow which appeared over Cornagrade in Enniskillen this afternoon.
6 Dec 2013 16:55
"Preditory sex offender" John Michael McDermott already serving over nine years for his involvement in the abuse of eight children, stands to be sentenced again in the New Year after pleading guilty today (Friday) to abusing a ninth victim.
6 Dec 2013 16:30 • Editorial Department
A selection of topical, amusing, noteworthy tweets from Fermanagh and beyond. Check below to see if you have been featured this week...
6 Dec 2013 14:00
Tomorrow (Saturday) is Small Business Saturday; a day when shoppers are encouraged to support local businesses in towns and villages across Fermanagh.
6 Dec 2013 12:30 • Rodney Edwards
IT appears relations between political opponents Arlene Foster and Phil Flanagan are improving after one of them suggested going for a coffee with the other.
6 Dec 2013 12:30
Goalkeeper Ronan Gallagher has become the latest Fermanagh player to bring the curtain down on his inter-county career.
6 Dec 2013 11:30 • Editorial Department
Irish police officers colluded in the IRA murder of a senior policeman from Kinawley, the final report of the Smithwick Tribunal has found.
6 Dec 2013 09:30
A 21-year-old man with mental health problems threatened to shoot police after they took him to hospital for treatment.