Donnybrook: 285 Years Ago


Donnybrook: 285 Years Ago
By John Myers

In 1737, the Penal era law outlawing the Irish Language in Irish Courts was put in place with the assent of the House of Hanover’s King George II. On December 6, 2022, King Charles III signed The New Identity and Language (Northern Ireland) Bill, giving “Royal Assent” to the law.  

Acht na Gaeilige, the law’s name in the ancient Irish Language, repealed the prohibition of the Irish Language and provides for the creation of an Office of Irish Language Commissioner and an Ulster Scots Commissioner. Remarkable that it has taken this long to recognize the right to speak one’s own language in one’s own court. 

The Bill gives equal standing for the Irish Language with the English Language in the Six Counties. Street signs and official documents can now use the Irish Language.  he Loyalist political parties, DUP, UUP, etc. have fought tooth and nail to kill the bill any chance they got. Even though other parts of the United Kingdom have given equal status for Scottish in Scotland and Welsh in Wales for many years, Loyal intransigence had been successful until now to stop any recognition of the native language of Ireland. 

Of course, this is a milestone to celebrate, however the devil will be in the details and in the implementation of the law. Loyalists will continue to work to trivialize and/or minimize the new law.  It was notable that Westminster had to go around the Northern Ireland Assembly to pass the law as it had continually been blocked by the Loyalist’s officeholders. 

Conradh na Gaeilige’s young, dynamic president, Paula Melvin, shared the following upon Assent of the law: “The Irish language community has been fighting for these rights for decades and in that regard to see the Irish language be afforded official recognition here for the first time is indeed historic. We want to pay tribute to all of those activists and community pioneers who have been advocating for language rights down through the years. Today is but another historic staging post in this ongoing campaign for equality. 

“This Bill, however, is not our final destination. We have pushed hard on several important amendments to the legislation, and we now turn our attention to both implementing and to strengthening the bill and bringing it up to international standards of language legislation in the future. But let’s be clear, we now immediately enter the implementation phase of this legislation. Painful experience with the British Government has taught us to take nothing for granted. Until we see this Bill fully enacted and indeed implemented in practice, we will continue to push ahead with the campaign.”

I believe the Irish, “Coimeád an creideamh” translates to, “keep the Faith” in the American language. 

The Beginnings of Golf
“ROYAL” Curragh is the oldest golf course in Ireland. Golf was first played in an area known as Donnelly’s Hollow in County Kildare in 1852. A formal club was established a couple of years later and the RC was granted a Royal Charter by King George V in 1910. This course is located about 45-minute drive west of Dublin, as part of the 5,000-acre Curragh Plains, one of Europe’s oldest grasslands. 

Near the town of Newbridge, the area also is the center of Irish thoroughbred horse breeding and racing.  The Irish National Stud and the general Curragh compete with Lexington, Kentucky as the heart of horse racing and breeding for the world.

St. Brigid
The Curragh is also home to a large collection of pre-historic and ancient Ireland sites.  Nearby in Kildare town is the Cathedral of St. Brigid, the Patroness of Ireland. Brigid, one of the “Big Three” saints of Ireland (Patrick, Columbkille and Brigid), established her monastery in Kildare in 453, and was consecrated a Bishop by St. Patrick’s nephew, St. Mel.

Also in Kildare is the site of St. Brigid’s well, a site of prayer and healing. February 1st is the feast day of her most Reverend Excellency Brigid. The good saint likely has more important matters than to improve your golf score, but perhaps a visit to the well after your time at Royal Curragh to ask for peace to accept one’s miserable level of play would be more spiritual.  “Brid agus Muire dhoit”: May Brigid and Mary be with you.

Groundhog Day
is in February. However, last month, on December 7th, could have sufficed. A Plenary Session of the Northern Ireland Assembly met, only to, once again, have the DUP boycott their democratic obligation to sit and govern. Once again, the DUP, under Jeff Donaldson’s ‘leadership’ choose to boycott the Assembly. Once again, they claimed they would not meet until the Irish Protocol (Irish Sea Border) is scrapped.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has no ability to alter the Protocol. The Protocol is part of the Brexit, an international treaty of which the Assembly has no say. It was the Tory’s colleagues in Westminster who negotiated and created the Irish Protocol, it was the DUP’s partners who agreed to the Protocol. It is still clear that their boycott since elections last year (May, 2022) is designed to keep Michelle O’Neil from becoming First Minister of the Assembly; the Loyalist can ot accept the result of democracy and continue to sit on the sidelines while important needs of the Six Counties are left unmet. 

The Tory’s Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Chris Heaton-Harris, has continued to push back any new Assembly elections for the Six Counties, contrary to the provisions of law, he has continued to coddle the DUP and the other Loyalists. Heaton-Harris continues to fail to use the power of Westminster to bring the parties together.  

Michelle O’Neil, the leader of the largest party in Northern Ireland, claimed she had heard “neither hide nor hare” from Mr. Heaton-Harris. Clearly the new Tory Government of Richi Rich Sunayk sitting at Westminster does not take their international treaty obligations under the Good Friday Accord seriously.   

It is one of London’s responsibilities to make the GFA work. I trust London must be clueless that they are creating a foundation of deceit and ill-will with Washington when they come hat in hand to seek a free trade agreement with the U.S.A.

Happy New Year 
2023 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Accord; the twentieth anniversary of the Twinning of Cleveland and Mayo/Achill; 
the 100th anniversary of William Butler Yeats receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature; 
the 100th anniversary of the opening of Sean O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunmen at the Abbey Theater in Dublin; 
the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Irish Civil War (May 24th); the 100th Birthday for poet Brendan Behan (Feb 3rd); 
The 100th Anniversary of the founding of Cumann na nGaedheal (the political party formed by pro-treaty forces and headed by W. T. Cosgrave, the Party eventually became today’s current Fine Gael party and controlled the Free State in its first decade of existence); 
the 100th anniversary of Ireland joining the League of Nations; 
the 50th Anniversary of Ireland joining the European Economic Community (EEC); 
the 50th Anniversary of Erskine Childers being elected President of Ireland; 
the 50th Anniversary of three IRA prisoners escaping Mt. Joy prison via helicopter; 
the 25th anniversary of the Omagh bombing (29 dead) and 
25 years since the death of American Human Rights Lawyer and Irish Political Activist Paul O’Dwyer.  
Athabhliain faoi mhaise
Click on icons below to share articles to social.

Recent issues

E-Bulletin Signup

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive news and event emails from: iIrish. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.
New to Cleveland Ad

Explore other topics