Friday, July 15, 2011

The Irish Language, Visiting the Abbey

The Irish language is one that the Irish tend to feel one of two ways about… there are those that are extremely passionate about preserving this Celtic language and those that are far from enthralled to learn the language in school. After talking with some locals, the Irish language taught in school is very basic, providing students with a very limited array of talking points. On the other hand---there has been, from what I can tell, a recent trend for enthusiasts to revive the use of the ancient language.
Language is a huge defining factor in terms of ones nationality. It is a regional aspect that ties people not only to one another but also to their family lineage. Ireland is the home to many influential writers; four alone have been recognized and given the Nobel Peace Price for their work. Of these four writers is William Butler Yeats.
Yeats himself was an idealist. Throughout his work, he acknowledged the fact that Ireland was a separate entity, unique in its rural simplicity. His work based off a fanaticized land that he dreamt about while away in London. Due to his relocation, Yeats formed a strong sense of nationalism towards his home country as he remembered it. Yeats wrote about this pride in the rolling hills and his rural life so much so, that this was often the only part of Irish society portrayed. Every piece of Yeats’ work included this idealism and played to his thoughts on nationalism, of which spoke volumes to his concept of conserving Irish heritage. 
In addition to diving into the work of Yeats, we were fortunate enough to visit the Abbey Theater. This historical monument has offered great works of literature performed on its stage since 1904. The play Translations was exceptional. One critic was quoted, “More than thirty years since it was first produced, Translations is now regarded as a modern masterpiece. Subtle and resonant, it’s a political drama, a historical tale, a funny and clever play about language and a tender love story”. Brian Friel’s, Translations was an amazing introduction into the series of events that almost forced the Celtic language out of use. The Anglicization of words, started with the renaming of the Irish landscape. Taking place solely around the structure of a hedge school, the audience is told the story of the importance of language for Ireland’s people.

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