Speech at the opening of the 2017 Summer School in Celtic Studies
A dhaoine uaisle. Tá an-áthas orm a bheith anseo inniu le Scoil Shamhraidh na hInsitiúide Ard Léinn a oscailt go foirmeálta. Cuireann sé gliondar orm daoine as gach cearn den domhan a fheiceáil cruinnithe anseo i lárionad domhanda an Léinn Cheiltigh lena gcuid eolais ar an ábhar seo a leathnú agus le blaiseadh de shaol agus de chultúr na hÉireann.
Our culture is one of our greatest and most richly celebrated treasures – from our music and dance to our literature and language. The latter, with its deep Celtic roots, has engaged scholars the world over as one of the oldest living languages in Europe.
Celtic is one of the six main language groups, which for more than two thousand years, have shaped the linguistic ecology of Europe. Given their long history, Celtic Languages have some of the oldest and most diverse literature in Europe and, for this reason, form a hugely important part of our European cultural heritage.
It is said that a people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
In the words of the the poet, the late Séamus Heaney, “ Not to learn Irish is to miss the opportunity of understanding what life in this country has meant and could mean in a better future …
If we regard self understanding, imaginative enhancement and cultural diversity as desirable, we should remember that knowledge of the Irish language is an essential element in their realisation”.
This is why it’s so important that we continue to promote study and research into this area of our heritage. Through studying the vast number of literary texts our ancestors left behind, we can gain a greater understanding of those that have gone before us.
The School of Celtic Studies at the Dublin Institute was established almost eighty years ago to promote and develop this field of study and to be a world centre of excellence. It achieves this through its research, publications, and through the training it offers to advanced students.
In those eighty years, countless numbers of students and scholars have passed through its doors, many of whom have gone on to achieve eminence in the world of academia.
I am confident that the School will continue this great tradition of education and research while at the same time strengthening its reputation as a centre of excellence for Celtic scholars and scholarship.
The international dimension of Celtic Studies is reflected in the diverse gathering here today, where scholars of many nationalities will take part in the 2017 Summer School. This year, students will have the opportunity to attend lectures in Early Modern Irish, Middle Welsh and Mediaeval Lordship in the Gaelic Literary Tradition.
I understand that there are close to 50 participants from Ireland, Britain, mainland Europe, Russia and North America here today. This demand for places for the 2017 School is a clear indication of the importance of the leadership role of the School of Celtic Studies in promoting global research in this area.
The Irish Government strongly supports the Irish language and the broader field of Celtic Studies. Indeed, the Government’s commitment to the promotion of the Irish language is evident in its 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030. The objective of this Government policy in relation to Irish is to increase the use and knowledge of Irish as a living community language. This strategy promotes an integrated approach to the Irish language, with actions and targets set out for areas including education, the Gaeltacht, the family, public services, the media and technology, dictionaries, legislation and the economy.
Significant strides have been made in particular in education and we have recently had the publication, for the first time ever, of a specific education policy for Gaeltacht areas. Through this and other initiatives the Government will continue to ensure that Irish remains an integral part of everyday life in the Gaeltacht and indeed non Gaeltacht areas, including public life in Ireland.
Baineann an-tábhacht leis an Léann Ceilteach mar chuid d’oidhreacht chultúrtha na hEorpa, agus go deimhin mar chuid d’oidhreacht an duine daonna.
Cuid lárnach den oidhreacht sin ná an litríocht shaibhir atá againn sna mílte lámhscríbhinní atá againn anseo in Éirinn, sa Bhreatain agus i dtíortha níos faide ó bhaile ná sin. Ach ní mór ardscileanna teanga agus litríochta a bheith againn leis an oidhreacht sin a thuiscint agus a chaomhnú mar is ceart.
Cuireann an Insitiúid seo an teagasc sin ar fáil agus tugann sí deis do scoláirí óga a gcuid eolais ar an Léann Ceilteach a leathnú trí ócáidí ar nós na Scoile seo a eagrú.
In your pursuit of that knowledge, I would like to wish all of you here today every success in your future academic endeavours and am delighted to formally open the 2017 Celtic Studies Summer School.
Go raibh mile maith agaibh.