Language, Resistance and Revival: Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland

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9780745332260: Language, Resistance and Revival: Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland
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Language, Resistance and Revival tells the untold story of the truly groundbreaking linguistic and educational developments that took place among Republican prisoners in Long Kesh prison from 1972-2000. During a period of bitter struggle between Republican prisoners and the British state, the Irish language was taught and spoken as a form of resistance during incarceration. The book unearths this story for the first time and analyses the rejuvenating impact it had on the cultural revival in the nationalist community beyond the prison walls. Based on unprecedented interviews, Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh explores a key period in Irish history through the original and 'insider' accounts of key protagonists in the contemporary Irish language revival.

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Review:

The most comprehensive and accessible account of the relationship between the Irish language and the Long War in the Six Counties. Essential reading for anyone interested in the dynamics of political and cultural revival in a revolutionary context. Mac Ionnrachtaigh makes skilful and extensive use of interviews with many of the principal actors to document this phenomenon with great authenticity. (Dr Ruan O’Donnell, Lecturer in History at University of Limerick and author of Special Category: The IRA in English Prisons)

This fascinating new study examines an essential part of the story of language revival and political conflict in Ireland. The interviews and analysis undertaken by the author promise to be of great interest to a wide readership. (Dr Fionntán De Brún, Head of Irish language and Literature, University of Ulster)

An important contribution to our understanding of the impact of colonialism on minority languages, and attempts to revive those languages. It also explores a rarely documented aspect of the lives and struggles of political prisoners in Ireland and shows their contribution to the Irish language revival. (Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill, republican ex-prisoner and Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy in University College Cork)

A very important study of a group of individuals, incarcerated in the harshest of conditions, who found sustenance, hope and comfort in reclaiming a language denied to them by the long colonisation of their country. This book explains, as many in the international community will recognise, the importance of reclaiming native culture and language as a step towards national self-esteem and freedom. (Seamas Mac Seáin, founder-member of Shaws Road Gaeltacht and leading Belfast language revivalist)

This fascinating and most original study is to be warmly welcomed. We have here a work which should appeal to a wide readership both among the general population and among students of a variety of academic disciplines, including Irish, sociology, sociolinguistics, modern history, education, law, and conflict and peace studies. (Dr Nollaig Ó Muraíle, Senior Lecturer in Irish, National University of Ireland, Galway)

An excellent account of cultural colonialism in both its historical and contemporary context. While concentrating his examination on the case of Ireland, the author also places the process in an international context. He has had intimate access to sources beyond the reach of many others. This, along with his acute analytical and observational skills, has resulted in a work of real merit. A genuine treasure. (Tommy McKearney, Former IRA Hunger Striker, historian and author of The Provsional IRA- From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press))

The resistance of politically motivated Republican prisoners during the recent conflict in the north of Ireland has been well documented, but this is the first account which has the language revival as its central focus. That alone makes this a valuable contribution to knowledge. The story is a fascinating and politically instructive one which has not been told before. (Professor Bill Rolston, Director of Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster)

This book provides the perfect synthesis of insider knowledge and serious academic reflection. It benefits from extraordinary access to the ex-prisoner community, and the author shows a unique capacity to understand the historical and political complexities of their accounts. It will have an enormous impact on research seeking to understand grassroots resistance movements throughout the world. (Professor Kristin Bumiller, Department of Political Science, Amherst College, MA, USA)

In this magnificent book, Mac Ionnrachtaigh for the first time gives a long history of the Irish language movement and its place in resistance and social transformation. Necessary reading for anyone who wants to understand the Irish conflict right up to the present day. (Professor Denis O'Hearn, Head of Graduate School, Department of Sociology in Binghamton University, New York, prison activist and author of Bobby Sands: Nothing but an Unfinished Song (Pluto Press))

This excellent book is not simply about the Irish language or its revival; it is a story about a community in struggle. In an age of globalisation it is more critical than ever to remind ourselves of the need for de-colonisation, and it is a joy to read again the powerful, insightful comments on that topic from Fanon, Freire, Chomsky, Said and many others whose writings I was first introduced to, and took inspiration from, whilst incarcerated within a prison cell. (Dr Laurence McKeown, former IRA hunger striker, playwright and author ofOut of Time: Irish Republican Prisoners, Long Kesh 1972-2000)

About the Author:

Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh is a Belfast-based community activist. He works as a Project Worker with Gaeltacht Quarter Irish Language Development Agency, Forbairt Feirste, and is chairperson of Upper Springfield Irish Language organisation, Glór na Móna.

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