ON HIS HOLIDAYS in Galway recently, Spectator columnist and native of Scotland Alex Massie was less than bowled over to encounter a sign instructing all visitors to Galway cricket club that the only acceptable language was the native tongue.
The new rules applies “even to non-national members”, a sign affixed to the walls of the club states.
Massie points out that this perturbing policy may have something to do with the fact that the club was recently the beneficiary of a significant grant from the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, adding perhaps not unreasonably:
If ACG had sufficient largesse to be supporting cricket clubs in the west of Ireland it just might be that there were other, more significant, areas of government spending – and indeed an entire political and economic culture – that were out of control.
In return for this money from the ministry, the deal was that Irish would be promoted as the language of cricket. As Massie puts it in his Speccie column: “This, no matter what language you put it in, seems a sticky wicket.”
He points out that there are some practical issues that may have been overlooked when it was decided to introduce the policy (not least the fact that only half the Irish national team are actually, er, Irish):
Needless to say, in two visits to Galway’s pleasant ground I’ve yet to hear a single word of Irish spoken … there’s a limit to how much the business of the club can be conducted “through the medium of Irish”. What, in the name of the lord, is the Irish for “googly”? Keen eyes will also notice that the club’s Irish language policy is written in English.
That might have something to do with a further practical issue that Massie himself seems to have overlooked.
The policy had to be written in English: how else to ensure that all the county’s elected representatives would be able to read it?