Irish Language (Moore, 1925)

1.428-29. George Moore, Hail and Farewell!, 2 vols. (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1925), vol. I, p.371. BL 010856.dd.38

An extract from George Moore, Hail and Farewell! (1925), on the Irish language.

Moore here records a conversation between himself, Æ and a ‘young Celt’, all three of them on bicycles at the time and with Moore holding forth on the subject of language:

¶¶If Irishmen would only read English literature, Æ shouted from the other side of the road, but they read the daily paper.
¶¶But, Æ, a nation reads the literature that itself produces. Ireland cannot be as much interested in Shakespeare as England is, or in the Bible, Ireland having accepted the Church of Rome, and the two ways of learning English are through the Bible and Shakespeare.
¶¶But there is an excellent Irish translation of the Bible, nearly as good as the English Bible, and Æ appealed to the young Celt, who admitted that he had heard that Bedell’s Bible was in very good Irish.
¶¶But it isn’t read in the classes.
¶¶And why isn’t it read in the classes? I asked.
¶¶Well, you see, it was done by a Protestant.
¶¶I screamed at him that it was ridiculous to reject good Irish because a Protestant wrote it.
¶¶You are a native speaker, sir?
¶¶No, I answered, I don’t know any Irish.
¶¶The young man gazed at me, and Æ began to laugh.
¶¶You should begin to learn, and I hope you won’t mind taking this little book from me; it is O’Growney’s. I am in the fifth. And now, he said, I don’t think I can go any farther with you.