This week’s Irish Vocabulary lesson (see menu, above) includes Names of people and places that appear in Irish Firebrands.
In general, most ethnic Irish surnames are patronymic. There also are Gaelicized names that were assimilated from other peoples who settled in Ireland, such as Scandinavians, Anglo-Normans, and Anglo-Saxons. But the spellings and interpretations of many of these names can be debated.
Likewise, nobody knows for sure what was the original purpose of the earthworks on the Hill of Tara (I have my own theory, which I hope to use in a future novel).
We’ve learned a few Gaeilge words in Irish Firebrands, and now we’ll put together some phrases, found on the Irish Vocabulary menu, above. To hear the pronunciation, copy the bold words and paste them into the box at abair.ie, and push the “Synthesise” button. The page will re-load, and then it will speak.
Ireland is officially a bilingual country, but the Irish language is struggling to survive. It lacks the kind of comprehensive vocabulary that would enable it to be used easily in science, industry and world trade, and the three regional dialects compete with the recently standardized version that is taught in school. The maps below illustrate the decline of the Gaeltachts (Gaeilge-speaking areas) since the early 20th Century.
Irish is compulsory for most schoolchildren, government websites and documents are offered in Gaeilge and English, road signage is usually bilingual, and there is some amount of Irish-language TV programming (with English subtitles). Remedial Irish summer schools are held in the Gaeltachts for all ages. But there are no major newspapers or magazines published in Gaeilge, and more people seem to be interested in preserving Irish music and dance – after all, that’s what tourists will pay to see.
Irish is taught in the USA at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, which offers it in Undergraduate majors and minors, as well as Graduate degrees.