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The Irish-Speaking Clergy in the Nineteenth Century: Education, Trends, and Timing

The Irish-Speaking Clergy in the Nineteenth Century: Education, Trends, and Timing Nicholas M. Wolf Of all the factors once seen as central to Ireland's nineteenth-century language shift, the Catholic church has received the least scrutiny in attempts to reassess the period. The opprobrium heaped on Daniel O'Connell by later cultural nationalists for his utilitarian approach to language and culture--an attitude long portrayed by historians as contributing to a disdain for Irish among his multitude of followers--now looks misplaced in light of investigations into popular culture that have revealed no apparent concern with the politician's ambivalence on the issue.1 On the contrary, folk accounts about "Counsellor O'Connell" that broached the subject of language offered tales about his ability to use Irish to avoid cunning traps laid by English-speakers.2 The emphasis once placed on the national school system established in 1831 as the primary force for Anglicization has been repeatedly called into question by historians, and more recent studies have even challenged the facile connection between the acquisition of English and school-acquired literacy in general.3 As 1. Speaking of O'Connell's statement that "he could witness without a sigh, the gradual disuse of Irish," Daniel Corkery, for example, wrote, "It was these very peasants who most worshipped O'Connell. He was one to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png New Hibernia Review Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas

The Irish-Speaking Clergy in the Nineteenth Century: Education, Trends, and Timing

New Hibernia Review , Volume 12 (4) – Dec 19, 2008

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Publisher
Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 The University of St. Thomas
ISSN
1534-5815
Publisher site
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Abstract

Nicholas M. Wolf Of all the factors once seen as central to Ireland's nineteenth-century language shift, the Catholic church has received the least scrutiny in attempts to reassess the period. The opprobrium heaped on Daniel O'Connell by later cultural nationalists for his utilitarian approach to language and culture--an attitude long portrayed by historians as contributing to a disdain for Irish among his multitude of followers--now looks misplaced in light of investigations into popular culture that have revealed no apparent concern with the politician's ambivalence on the issue.1 On the contrary, folk accounts about "Counsellor O'Connell" that broached the subject of language offered tales about his ability to use Irish to avoid cunning traps laid by English-speakers.2 The emphasis once placed on the national school system established in 1831 as the primary force for Anglicization has been repeatedly called into question by historians, and more recent studies have even challenged the facile connection between the acquisition of English and school-acquired literacy in general.3 As 1. Speaking of O'Connell's statement that "he could witness without a sigh, the gradual disuse of Irish," Daniel Corkery, for example, wrote, "It was these very peasants who most worshipped O'Connell. He was one to

Journal

New Hibernia ReviewCenter for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas

Published: Dec 19, 2008

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