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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 1999-2004 » 2001 (January-June) » When Irish was spoken in Tasmania! « Previous Next »

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Seán de Burca (ryd-pr1.tpgi.com.au - 203.29.129.28)
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2001 - 01:30 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Not many people know of this story but for a time Irish was indeed spoken in Tasmania.Thiss story is factually based on Tazzy history and was told to me by the leading Gaelgeoirs in Oz.In the 1840's a group of Irish convicts were brought to Tasmania and put into a prison.After 3 months three men escaped and headed off into the bush. Here they spoke only Irish among themselves. Many months passed until they were captured by the british.The British were annoyed that these men spoke in Irish as they must have thought that three Irish speakers in the middle of the Tazzy bush were somehow a threat to their unglorious empire. Anyway, they killed one of the men and told the other two to speak only english which they both agreed upon.

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Laighneach (oak.may.ie - 149.157.1.55)
Posted on Thursday, February 08, 2001 - 12:16 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

I'm quite sure irish has been spoken anywhere that the irish have tread globally.Tasmania is no exception.

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Liam OBriain (ryd-pr1.tpgi.com.au - 203.29.129.28)
Posted on Thursday, February 08, 2001 - 09:33 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Indeed Irish was spoken in Canada up to the 1920's in a place called Irishtown in Halifax, Nova Scotia by a number of families. I learned of this through the website comhairle gaedlig na hAlban Nua or The Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia. Also Irish was spoken in Wisconsin during the late 1800's.Who knows what would have happened had those Irish guys not been caught?

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Seosamh (2cust103.tnt11.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.133.231)
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2001 - 03:34 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Seosamh Mac M. and others posted fascinating stuff on Irish in places in Ireland in the early 1900's where it has since died out. It would be interesting to see the question of Irish outside Ireland addressed too. Of course, as an Laighneach pointed out that means anywhere the Irish went, but in the last 120 ++ years or so English has strongly predominated.

It's sad that prejudice against the language (and to some extent against the Irish, generally) is wiping out memory of the language. There is a history of Brooklyn, where I live, where an otherwise apparently qualified scholar states that the Brooklyn accent could not have come from Irish Gaelic (as often believed) because there could never have been more than a literal handful of Irish speakers here!

There are probably some hundreds of native and fluent speakers scattered about even now and entire communities flourished in places like Red Hook and Bay Ridge. There's a street on the other side of the park from me where Gaoth Dobhair people traditionally settled. I met one of them, a ninety-year old woman, a few years ago, still living there. There were thousands of Irish speakers in Brooklyn.

When my father was studying Irish around 1958-60, he attended a monthly Irish-language rosary group in Paterson, NJ. It was mostly women from the Gaeltacht. A classmate of mine remembered picking up Irish in Paterson because it was spoken natively in his family.

Indeed in the 1890's (hope that's the right decade), the first Irish-American governor of New York spoke Irish, which he said he had spoken in the street with his playmates in Upper Manhattan "like any Irish-American children". That's an exaggeration, surely, but gives an insight into how widespread the language really was. It is well to remember how massive emigration was and how great was the loss of the language.

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Liam O Briain (202.143.71.43)
Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 01:14 am:   Edit Post Print Post

Seosamh,

I find your piece on the use of Irish in New York fascinating. Where is Red Hook and Bay Ridge and is Irish spoken by anyone there?Is Paterson an area populated by Irish people? Is Irish spoken in Brooklyn as I've heard someone say it can be heard there by recent emigrants from Gaeltachts? I am always amazed at the way different nationalities in cities like New York or Sydney can keep their languages while Irish people when they come over don't transmit the language to their children. I would like to see a short project/study done(maybe by Daltai) on Irish today in New York.

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Laighneach (ts14-013.dublin.indigo.ie - 194.125.175.13)
Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 08:40 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I also know for a fact that an irish woman was burned at the stake in New England (New Haven, Conneticut, I think)around the time of the whole Salem Witch Trial thing, because she had been caught, by obviously english speaking zealots, saying the rosary in irish.I don't think that it had any perticular anti-irish predudice to it, at least not intentionally.The nutcases just heard her reciting in an alien language and assumed she was speaking the languge of the devil....and well, you know the rest!

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Seosamh (1cust96.tnt12.nyc3.da.uu.net - 63.23.136.96)
Posted on Saturday, February 10, 2001 - 02:37 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

Léigh mé an scéal céanna, a Laighnigh. Is dócha go bhfuil sé fíor.

Laura Guardi and Maidhc Ó Gacháin here in the Windsor Terrace 'Gaeltacht' put a bunch of Irish-speaking people in Brookly on videotape, from learners to an elderly man from the Mayo Gaeltacht. I remember Laura asking him if there were many Irish speakers in Brooklyn when he came over in the 20s. 'O, bhí neart acu ann', a dúirt sé. There were many of them.

Today there are elusive networks of Gaeltacht emigrants who speak it with friends and relatives on the phone, at wakes, maybe at a local pub. I've heard occasionally of non-Gaeltacht speakers doing the same, here in Brooklyn and elsewhere. Laura was in a shoe store one day when a family came in speaking Kerry Irish. But that is rare.

Red Hook has few Irish left but Bay Ridge has many. Paterson was 'the Silk City' and had immigrants from Brittany to Syria. The Irish were mostly from Ulster and Connaught, I think. It's still an immigrant city.

Brooklyn may now have the strongest community of Yiddish speakers in the world but it exists in a selfenclosed world and you don't hear it often outside of Hasidic neighborhhoods.

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Cailleach (modem-36-112-60-62.vip.uk.com - 62.60.112.36)
Posted on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 08:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

It's normal enough that the children or grandchildren of immigrants will adopt the main language of their neighbours. What is so sad is that most of the Irish who did NOT emigrate lost their native language.

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