February 28 - Gaeilgóirí respond to Patricia Feehily’s column

Patricia Feehily's column of February 22 raised a few hackles
I would like to lodge a complaint about the article by Patricia Feehily in the Limerick Leader (Leader 2 section last week and on www.limerickleader.ie) regarding the march in Dublin for Irish-language rights.

I would like to lodge a complaint about the article by Patricia Feehily in the Limerick Leader (Leader 2 section last week and on www.limerickleader.ie) regarding the march in Dublin for Irish-language rights.

While Patricia is entitled to not speak the Irish language she is not entitled to attack those of us who do speak the language. I was not at the march myself on Saturday, but in the pictures that I saw of ‘Lá Mór na Gaeilge’ in Dublin everyone had a smile on their faces. This is a far cry from Patricia’s description.

Patricia, it would seem to me, is just another of a long line of so-called journalists who are seeking to make a career out of their lack of knowledge and hostility to the Irish language and Irish speakers.

Dónall Mac Murchaidh

Béal Feirste, Éire

Patricia Feehily refers to “fanatics” using “bully tactics and guilt provocation”, evoking imagery of “the most pampered and indulged minority group in the EU” “beating English out of us with whips”, and expresses her wish to be freed from their “incessant whinge”, criticising the “farcical antics” of many of the demonstrators.

This is a mischaracterisation of the mood, the aesthetic, and of the language expressed by the protest that day, and would, were this style of rhetoric used to describe any other sector of society, be rightly regarded as borderline hate speech.

Furthermore Feehily claims that “there is no public service now that isn’t available in both Irish and English”. This not only ignores official reports to the contrary from the office of An Coimisinéar Teanga and public statements by many of our political leaders, including members of the governing coalition, but also the campaign literature of the protesters themselves. She goes on to state that the protestors “want nothing less than a fully staffed alternative administration for themselves - all 70,000 of them”. This is a ridiculous assertion for which she provides no evidence.

The entire article can most charitably be described as a careless and slovenly misrepresentation of the facts, written by somebody who has not done their best to research the issue thoroughly. It appears to me, however, more likely to be a deliberate attempt to distort the public record, and could well have the unfortunate effect of inciting ill feeling and even hatred towards a considerable number of citizens of this country.

Cuan Ó Seireadáin

Rath Fearnáin, Baile Átha Cliath 16

It surprises me that the Limerick Leader is willing to publish such a bigoted article against the Irish language rights. I am one of the parents who marched in Dublin on that great day in which Irish language enthusiasts from all over the country (many from Limerick and the Munster region) decided to protest at the government in-action to protect the rights of what has become a minority in our own country. Gaeilgeoirí are not a privileged people but constantly harassed by what has become an embarrassing media.

Pádraig Ó Baoill

Baile Locha Riach Co na Gaillimhe

Patricia has had her rant. She has the privilege of being given considerable space in a weekly newspaper, and uses it to denigrate the Irish language, the revival of which was one of the aims of the leaders of the founders of this state.

However, as the Limerick Leader is owned by Johnston Press (Chairman Ian Russell, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), Patricia may cunningly have chosen a good way to curry favour with the big bosses.

Brian Ó Baoill

Cois Fharraige, Co na Gaillimhe

the language and tone used in the article by Patricia Feehily is not acceptable. I find it very insulting and derogatory. I can’t believe the tone of this article - an attempt unfortunately to silence a minority group because she thinks it is acceptable or even popular to do so. I feel an apology is required by Patricia Feehily.

Joanne Callinan

Inis, Co an Chláir.

I love my country and I love our language, and I will defend people’s constitutional rights to be able to speak it as much possible in their daily lives. This article was a cheap attack on those of us that love the language, and ironically from a ‘journalist’ working in Limerick where a lot of great work is being done to promote the language.

Barry Dunne

Co Phort Láirge

I am the National Director of Oireachtas na Gaeilge, the largest Irish Language event in the country; this event regularly attracts a following of 10-12,000 visitors to the host town in late October/early November each year. Far from costing the taxpayer, this event generates in the region of €6.25 million in the locality. Ask Letterkenny, Killarney, Westport etc.

I was recently invited by some very hard-working people in Limerick to consider the city as a possible host for Oireachtas na Gaeilge in the near future.

However, high amongst my criteria for choosing a host town is an assurance that these thousands of Irish-speaking people will feel welcome and comfortable. I can ignore Ms Feehily’s ranting. My late mother would say, “Take insults as compliments from those who know no better” but the fact that the Limerick Leader published the article raises a more significant barrier.

A short apology from you, sir, would be most welcome and greatly appreciated. It would give us to understand that we, Gaeilgóirí, might in the future be welcome in the city of Limerick or should events such as ours find a more hospitable home?

Liam Ó Maolaodha

Oireachtas na Gaeilge, Baile Átha Cliath 2

THE EDITOR REPLIES: Should the Oireachtas na Gaeilge event be staged in Limerick at any stage in the future, I am quite certain that Gaeilgóirí would receive an exceptionally warm welcome from the people of Limerick, as well as positive coverage in the Limerick Leader. The paper welcomes contributions in Irish and we’ve been more than happy to publish articles from Conradh na Gaeilge, Limerick when submitted to us.

In its 125-year history, this newspaper has published the opinions of countless people – many of which have been very strongly worded and unpalatable to some readers. To those who take issue with some of the opinions expressed, we always offer right of reply, as evidenced by the response this week to Patricia Feehily’s column, some of which has been expressed in similarly robust language.

We take pride in the fact that the Leader has long had the most comprehensive letters section in provincial Irish journalism and we appreciate the input to this page from all readers, whether it be criticism of what we publish or – occasionally – praise.

- Alan English