Unfirm Ground: a Re-assessment of Language Policy in Ireland since Independence

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This paper is the first of a two-part article which examines the implications of the transformations in the relationship between those who exercise political and State power in Ireland and those who adhere to the minority Irish language culture. The evolution of language policy in the Irish State since independence in 1922 is considered from the perspective of linguistic sustainability, as opposed to the well-established trend in language policy discourse in Ireland which primarily focuses on institutional provision. The analysis here delineates the various policy phases which defined the official approach of the Irish State to its national but minority language. This analysis provides the basis to the examination in the second article of the process of contemporary language policy reform in Ireland. From the joint perspective of legacy issues in language policy and planning and the current transformations in relevant State policy, these two papers contend that the Irish State effectively abandon
ed the language revival in the early 1970s and that the current reform process marks an equally significant policy watershed in that the independent State is now preparing to abandon its policy concerning the small surviving Irish-speaking districts (Gaeltacht).
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)19-41
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage Problems & Langauge Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2014


  • language revival
  • language minoritisation
  • Irish language
  • the Gaeltacht
  • language policy reform
  • minority language regeneration
  • minority language


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