HC Deb 05 March 1877 vol 232 cc1359-60

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If, having regard to the Clause in the New Education Code for England and Wales, which directs that in districts where Welsh is spoken the intelligence of the children examined may be tested by requiring them to explain in Welsh the meaning of passages read, Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to afford the same recognition to the Celtic language in the Irish National Schools, from which it is now practically excluded?


Sir, I am informed that Inspectors of Schools in Ireland, in the comparatively few districts in which the Celtic language is the only language spoken by the peasantry, generally take pains to test the intelligence of the children by requiring them either directly, or through the teachers, to give explanations in that language of the English passages which may be the subjects of examination. But I cannot admit the assumption in the hon. Member's Question—that the Celtic language occupies in Ireland a similar position to that which the Welsh language holds in Wales, as being founded on fact. In Wales the Welsh language is not only spoken, but is also in constant use as a written and printed language. Books and newspapers are constantly printed and published in it, placards and advertisements in Welsh may everywhere be seen; but in Ireland the Celtic language may be said, even by the few who use it, to be a spoken language only. No Celtic newspaper or advertisement is ever seen, and, with one or two very rare exceptions, no modern literature in it can be said to exist. I cannot, therefore, think that it would be reasonable to treat the two countries in a precisely similar way in this matter.