One of the first projects launched by the government of the independent Irish state in 1922 was to change the language spoken by the population from English to Irish. The initial aim of the project was widespread change of the population’s vernacular but time and experience brought about the adoption of lesser aims, never precisely defined. This project has continued until to-day, maintained through state regulations and by the study of Irish in the schools. The population has remained English-speaking throughout.
The failure of the project has not led to the abandonment of its underlying ideology in spite of the wide gap between that and the linguistic reality in the community. It is this gap which makes the Revival interesting as a political and historical phenomenon.
In his treatment of Rationalism the philosopher Michael Oakshott provides insights into the way that ideologies and politics operate in tandem and he mentions the Revival of Irish as an example of political Rationalism in action. His insights are referred to in the text as are those of other authorities such as Kevin Williams, Adrian Kelly, E.F. O’Doherty, Tom Garvin, John Macnamara, and Donald H. Akenson.
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