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Contests and Contexts

The Irish Language and Ireland’s Socio-Economic Development


John Walsh

Despite being Ireland’s national and first official language, Irish is marginalised and threatened as a community language. The dominant discourse has long dismissed the Irish language as irrelevant or even an obstacle to Ireland’s progress. This book critiques that discourse and contends that the promotion of Irish and sustainable socio-economic development are not mutually exclusive aims.
The author surveys historical and contemporary sources, particularly those used by the Irish historian J.J. Lee, and argues that the Irish language contributes positively to socio-economic development. He grounds this argument in theoretical perspectives from sociolinguistics, political economy and development theory, and suggests a new theoretical framework for understanding the relationship between language and development. The link between the Irish language and Ireland’s socio-economic development is examined in a number of case studies, both within the traditional Irish-speaking Gaeltacht communities and in urban areas.
Following the spectacular collapse of the Irish economy in 2008, this critical challenge to the dominant discourse on development is a timely and thought-provoking study.


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List of Abbreviations and Terminology xxi


Abbreviations and Terminology ADM Area Development Management BCI Broadcasting Commission of Ireland BMW Border-Midlands-West (administrative region of NDP) CILAR Committee on Irish Language Attitudes Research CnaG Conradh na Gaeilge (Gaelic League), national vol- untary Irish language body CNnaG Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge, umbrella body for Irish language voluntary sector (Republic of Ireland) CSO Central Statistics Of fice Dáil Éireann Lower house of Irish parliament (Oireachtas) DCAL Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Northern Ireland) DCEGA Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Af fairs DCRGA Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Af fairs DETI Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry (Northern Ireland) DRD Department of Regional Development (Northern Ireland) DSD Department of Social Development (Northern Ireland) EBLUL European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages ED Electoral Division EPA Environmental Protection Agency FnaG Foras na Gaeilge, cross-border implementation body for Irish language xxii Abbreviations and Terminology FOI Freedom of Information (legislation) Foinse Weekly Irish language newspaper Forbairt Feirste Economic body for promotion of Irish in West Belfast Gaillimh le Gaeilge Body to promote use of Irish among businesses in Galway City GCDB Galway County Development Board GÉ Gaeltarra Éireann (Gaeltacht development body, 1957–1979) GSTF Greater Shankill Task Force IDA Industrial Development Authority IDF Integrated Development Fund for supporting deprived areas of Northern Ireland ITÉ Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann (Linguistics Institute of Ireland) Lá / Lá Nua Daily Irish language newspaper (defunct since 2008) LDSIP Local Government Social Inclusion Programme (NDP) LHRs Linguistic human rights MFG Meitheal Forbartha na...

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