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Wikipedia articles about the Irish War of Independence, The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film), and Irish Language

Author: Wikipedia and Robert Nielsen

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Irish War of Independence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Irish War of Independence was fought by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British soldiers who were trying to keep Ireland under British control.

The war was fought between 1919 and July 1921, when the fighting was stopped while a peace treaty was worked out.

It began because of the 1916 Easter Rising held in Dublin. The men who fought the British soldiers that day wanted Britain to move its army out of Ireland and for Ireland to be its own country.

Only 66 of these men were killed and sixteen of the leaders were executed. This angered Irish people. Many Irish people turned against British rule. Such Irish people were called Republicans. Republicans lived all over Ireland except in areas in Ulster where people called Unionists lived. The Unionists wanted to stay under control of the British Government. In Dublin, the political partySinn Féin won most seats in the Irish Dáil. They set up the IRA (Irish Republican Army) to fight the British soldiers in Ireland. The British government hated the Dail. The British wanted to destroy the Dail.

In 1919, fighting started. By 1921, the IRA had beaten the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Ireland had no police. In London, the British government began to row over Ireland. The war went on until 1922 when Irish Sinn Féin leaders and British MPs made a peace treaty. Besides six of the nine counties of Ulster where Unionists still lived (they were a majority of the population in four of those six counties while nationalists were a majority in the other two), Ireland was made its own country. The area where Ireland was its own independent country was called the Irish Free Stateand the area that stayed under British rule was called Northern Ireland.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 war drama film directed by Ken Loach, set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922–1923). Written by long-time Loach collaborator Paul Laverty, this drama tells the fictional story of two County Cork brothers, Damien O'Donovan (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy O'Donovan (Pádraic Delaney), who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom. The film takes its title from the Robert Dwyer Joyce's "The Wind That Shakes the Barley", a song set during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland and featured early in the film. The film is heavily influenced by Walter Macken's 1964 novel The Scorching Wind.

Widely praised, the film won the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.[4] Loach's biggest box office success to date,[5] the film did well around the world and set a record in Ireland as the highest-grossing Irish-made independent film, until surpassed by The Guard.[6]


County Cork, Ireland, 1920. Dr. Damien O'Donovan is about to leave his native village to practise medicine in a London hospital. Meanwhile, his brother Teddy commands the local flying column of the Irish Republican Army. After a hurling match, Damien witnesses the summary execution of his friend, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, by British Black and Tans. Although shaken, Damien rebuffs his friends' entreaties to stay in Ireland and join the IRA, saying that the war is unwinnable. As he is leaving town, Damien witnesses the British Army vainly trying to intimidate a railway personnel for refusing to permit the troops to board. In response, Damien decides to stay and is sworn into Teddy's IRA brigade.

After drilling in the mountains, the column raids the village's Royal Irish Constabulary barracks to acquire revolvers, then uses them to assassinate four Auxiliaries. In the aftermath, Anglo-Irish landowner Sir John Hamilton coerces one of his servants, IRA member Chris Reilly, into passing information to the British Army's Intelligence Corps. As a result, the entire brigade is arrested. In their cell, Damien meets the train driver, Dan, a union official who shares Damien's socialist views.

Meanwhile, British officers interrogate Teddy, pulling out his fingernails when he refuses to give them the names of IRA members. Johnny Gogan, a British soldier of Irish descent, helps all but three of the prisoners escape. After the actions of Sir John and Chris are revealed to the IRA's intelligence network, both are taken hostage. As Teddy is still recovering, Damien is temporarily placed in command. News arrives that the three remaining IRA prisoners have been tortured and shot. Simultaneously, the brigade receives orders to "execute the spies".

Despite the fact that Chris is a lifelong friend, Damien shoots both him and Sir John. Later, the IRA ambushes and wipes out a convoy of the Auxiliary Division, and in retaliation another detachment of Auxiliaries loots and burns the farmhouse of Damien's sweetheart, Cumann na mBan member Sinéad Sullivan. Sinéad is held at gunpoint while her head is shaved dry, cutting her scalp. Later, as Damien treats her, a messenger arrives with news of a formal ceasefire between Britain and the IRA.

After the Anglo-Irish Treaty is signed, the brigade learns that a partitioned Ireland will only be granted Dominion status within the British Empire. As a result, the brigade divides over accepting the terms of the Treaty. Teddy and his allies argue that accepting the Treaty will bring peace now while further gains can be made later. Others oppose the Treaty, proposing to continue fighting until a united Irish Republic can be obtained. Dan and Damien further demand the collectivisation of industry and agriculture. Any other course, declares Dan, will change only "the accents of the powerful and the colour of the flag".

Soon the Irish Free State replaces British rule, and Teddy and his allies begin patrolling in National Army uniforms. Meanwhile, Damien and his allies join the Anti-Treaty IRA. When the Battle of Dublin launches the Irish Civil War, the Anti-Treaty column commences guerrilla warfare against Free State forces. As the violence escalates, Teddy expresses fear that the British will invade if the republicans gain the upper hand. His position is: "They take one out, we take one back. To hell with the courts."

Soon after, Dan is killed and Damien is captured during a raid for arms on an Irish Army barracks commanded by Teddy. Sentenced to death, Damien is held in the same cell where the British Army imprisoned them earlier. Desperate to avoid executing his brother, Teddy pleads with Damien to reveal where the Anti-Treaty IRA is hiding the stolen rifles. In return, Teddy offers Damien full amnesty, a life with Sinéad, and the vision of an Ireland where Pro- and Anti-Treaty Irishmen can raise families side by side. Insulted, Damien responds by saying that he will never "sell out" the Republic the way Chris Reilly did and Teddy leaves the cell in tears. Damien writes a goodbye letter to Sinéad, expressing his love for her, but he says that he knows what he stands for and is not afraid. At dawn, Damien dies before a firing squad commanded by a heartbroken Teddy. Teddy delivers Damien's letter to Sinéad who is distraught and heartbroken. She attacks Teddy and orders

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Why Don’t The Irish Speak Irish? (an excerpt) by Robert Nielsen

Why Don’t The Irish Speak Irish? (an excerpt) by Robert Nielsen

Places where Irish is spoken on a daily basis according to the 2011 Census

Places where Irish is spoken on a daily basis according to the 2011 Census

In theory, Irish is the official language of the Republic of Ireland and people have the right to deal with government bodies through Irish. Signs are in both languages and if the Irish translation of the Constitution conflicts with the English, the Irish takes precedence. Irish is mandatory subject for all students born in Ireland and you must pass it in order to go to college. In school, there are three core subjects of English, Irish and Maths to which most resources are devoted. The government subsidies the language in many ways such as through the Irish language radio and TV station.

However, in practice, English dominates. Everyone born in Ireland grows up fluent in English. It is the language of TV, radio, newspapers, work and shops. Almost all jobs are done through English as well as almost all business. Politicians occasionally make symbolic gestures like using Irish for the first line of their speech, but quickly switch to English because otherwise they won’t be understood. Unless you live in the small Gaelthacht region, speaking Irish would be considered odd when you can use English. Speaking Irish can sometimes been seen as a sign of contrariness or just being difficult, as why would you do that we you can just speak English? In most of the country, the only place Irish is spoken is in classrooms. I myself, have only a basic grasp of the language and have never used it outside school.

How did this happen? Like many aspects of Irish society, the English can be blamed. For most of Irish history, the English ruled Ireland, but the language only really began to decline after 1600, when the last of the Gaelic chieftains were defeated. While the Irish language was never banned or persecuted (despite what Republicans may claim), it was discouraged. English was the official language of rule and business, and there was no one to support the Irish language and culture. It was the language English slowly spread, especially in the East and in Dublin, the capital, while Irish remained strong in the West. By 1800, Ireland was roughly balanced between the two languages.

There were two major events that destroyed Irish. The first was the Great Famine (1845-50) which hit the Irish speaking West hardest of all. Out of a population of 8 million, roughly 1 million people died and another million emigrated. From then on emigration became a common part of Irish society as huge numbers of Irish left the country every year, primarily to English speaking countries like Britain and America. This meant that most Irish people needed to speak English in the likely event that they would leave home. Irish would be no good to them in America, English was a necessity. English was the language of the future and of economic opportunity; Irish was the past and the language of a poverty stricken island that couldn’t support them.

The second major event was the advent of education. Starting in the 1830s national schools were created across Ireland to educate people through English and Irish was strictly forbidden. While nothing could be done to prevent Irish from being spoken in the home, it was strongly discouraged and shamed. Irish was depicted as an ignorant peasant’s language, whereas English was the language of sophistication and wealth. Poor potato farmers spoke Irish, while rich and successful businessmen spoke English. Other organisations too promoted English, such as the Catholic Church and even Nationalist politicians like Daniel O’Connell. English become the language of the cities while Irish retreated to the most remote and underdeveloped parts of the country.

The state of the Irish language in 1871

The state of the Irish language in 1871

The language declined to such an extent that there were fears that it would die out altogether by the end of the 19th century. However, at this time the Gaelic Revival began, when writers and educated people generally began to promote and use the language more. Poems, stories and plays were written in the language and groups were set up to support and use the language. When Ireland became independent in 1922, the state officially encouraged the language and made knowledge of it mandatory for state jobs. However, the newly independent state was very poor and recovering from a bitter civil war and didn’t have the resources or the national will for a full revival. It couldn’t change the fundamental fact that people needed English, not Irish, to find work and make a living.

However, while government support slowed the decline (compare Northern Ireland for example where the language is practically dead even among Irish Catholics) too much damage had already been done. The vast majority of people already spoke English, so what did you need Irish for? There was still massive emigration (until the 90s) so English was still the language that would get you a job, whereas Irish was the language your grandfather spoke. The base of Irish speakers was small and remote and the output in the language was tiny compared to that in English, especially with the advent of radio and TV.

Languages are strongly subject to economies of scale. Parents taught their children English because that was the language that most people spoke, which caused more people to learn it and so every generation English grew stronger and stronger. Likewise, Irish weakened as less people spoke it because few people spoke it which caused fewer still to speak it. It became more and more confined to elderly speakers which discouraged young people and continued the vicious circle. As less people spoke it, less people used it for art and literature, which gave people less of a reason to learn it. In short, Irish was/is trapped in a vicious downward spiral.

DMU Timestamp: November 01, 2017 20:56

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