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The Anglicisation of the G.A.A.
It appears the GA.A. may well have broken it's ties with Irish heritage
Is a decline in the glorification of Irish heroes and the use of the Irish languge just a fad or a worrying, long-term trend on the part of the Gaelic Athletic Association? The disappointing latter may well be true.
We are all aware of the extensive and admirable association that exists between the G.A.A. and Irish people. We Irish, as a race, have also been idoctrinated with regard to the deep-rooted connection between C.L.G. and the Irish language.
This connection is seen in club names and grounds, is heard in victorious speeches and jubilent songs which make the hairs on impressionable young boys necks stand up, straight and proud, like their intercounty idols marching on the field behind the bands. Or do these traditions belong to a bygone era? A past generation? To be simply dusty newsreel waiting to be pulled out of archives for pre-match montages?
Can we really sit back as we witness the anglicisation of all things Irish? I do not believe this to be a racial or anglophobic view, but a patriotic one. It is impossible for us to commemorate our proud history when we ignore our heritage and native tounge. The G.A.A. in it's steadfast position as an Irish institution and corner stone of Irish life is permitting this. I myself am a proud Charlevillian, a town where nasal intrusions of the cheesey variety are subject to wind direction but also a town which has allowed this decline in the celebratory function of the Irish language. At our most recent A.G.M. the decision was taken to rename the juvenile branch of the G.A.A. club from Sean Clarachs juvenile G.A.A. club to Charleville juvenile G.A.A. The influential poet, Sean Clarach Mac Domhnaill was another proud Charlevillian although admittedly cheese only invaded his nasal capacities while amking his own. Remarkably Mac Domnhaill combined his role as poet and farmer during Penal times due to his inability to obtain finance through writing as a result of colonial rule. Mac Domhnaill is another example of an Irish hero snubbed by the G.A.A., the must notable example of course being Michael Collins who has yet to have a G.A.A. club named after him as cited in Sean Kelly's autobiography, ' Rule 42 And All That'.
Decisions such as these show a blatent disregard to our heritage and a lack of respect (in the case of Mac Domnhail) for one of Ireland's premier poets, a man who piercingly chronicled every heartbeat of Irish society under the Penal Laws.
" O mo laoch, mo gille maer"- lament of Sean Clarach Mac Domnhail in 'Bimse Buan ar Buairt Gach Lo'.
More frustrating then the disappearing act that the Irish language is currently engaged in is it's rather embarressing misuse. Again we need not look beyond my own club for some insight. The poet Sean Mac Domhnaill was born in 1691, although I imagine his poetic life began some years later. During the course of his life he obtained the nickname 'Clarach' meaning flat in reference to his flat face. This michaelangelan similarity may well mean little to most, but for those of us whose childhoods were coloured by their experiences with the club formerly known as Sean Clarachs it is quite humourous while simultaneously irritating to learn that we played under the guise of 'Flat Sean's'. For reasons unknown this name has a negative connotation for my good self. Images of brothels in the wild west ( of Ireland) and potteen outhouse belonging to " the man himself" tend to take up residence in my head. For the most part we know of the great Flann O'Briens's opposition to this misuse but who else cares? Are we really too ignorant to use our so-called native tounge accuarately?
The hard naked truth is that we are losing touch with our ancestry. We are so heavily influenced by our neighbours across both respective ponds that we all look the same and though we differ on accents our vocabulary is capable of being very much the same. This philological analogy my be tough to bear but it would be a lot tougher to concede that the Irish language has no place in Irish institutions. A nation's language is certainly the mirror by which it views itself. The question is- can we look ourselves in the mirror if we allow the Irish language to fade out of the G.A.A., the organisation that sets pulses racing and ash prices soaring across our country and beyond. If so, the Artane Band might as well play ' God Save The Queen', 'Star Spangled Banner' and for good measure ' Waltzing Matilda' on All-Ireland final days in September.