Sunday, June 26, 2005

Wimbledon on TG4 - Liathróidí Nua, le Bhur dToil! Ó, Deirim!

Of all the zany programme scheduling decisions that TG4 have made during the eleven glorious years of their existence, nothing seems as incongruous to An Spailpín Fánach than the fact that the station is currently broadcasting the All-England Lawn Tennis Open Championships from Wimbledon, London, England, for this week and the next.

It really is the damnedest thing. Wimbledon was so long a part of the Irish summer, as Jim Sherwin and Matt Doyle droned on and on and on as one big kraut followed the next in booming serves and curtseys to the Royal Box. Then it suddenly disappeared, only to pop up again, from out of nowhere, on TG4. If you can imagine R na G broadcasting the Ashes you get an idea of the shock of it.

The mystery of it all was: why Wimbledon on TG4? I have no doubt that it gives the Fíorghaeil a vicarious thrill of pride to think of the ancient language of the Gael being spoken and broadcast from the beating heart of Empire, but a lot of Fíorghaeil don't approve of TG4, and it would be a lot of money to spend on making a point that most people wouldn't get - An Spailpín Fánach will not quickly forget the fact that when Carrie Fisher first heard Irish on TG4 she thought it was "the language of the elves."

And then, after co-incidentally discussing the language and issues arising there from in a public house during the week, An Spailpín began to wonder if the tennis broadcasting isn't a sneaky means of maintaining the Gaelscoileanna kids, to keep them speaking a language that the majority have used in school but not at home.

While there are no doubt many idealistic parents who send their children to Gaelscoileanna for the most idealistic of reasons, it would be naïve in the extreme not to realise that the reason the vast majority of children are sent to Gaelscoileanna is to keep the sons and heirs as far away from pikies as humanly possible. But it has to be having the effect of giving these children a very strong Irish vocabulary, too strong for it to wither on the vine, as An Spailín's school Irish did as soon as he arose from the second paper in the Irish in the last Leaving Cert of the 1980s. Is it possible that the language will be saved by a bizarre alliance of stealth and co-incidence? Is it possible that the presence of leadóg on TG4, and rugbaí before it, will slowly hook in that great decision making mass of humanity that is identified in the mass Irish psyche as Dublin 4? That these movers, shakers and decision makers, when they arise to power as they inevitably, inexorably, will, that they will say let's cut out the nonsense, Ireland will speak Irish once more?

An Spailpín doubts it too. Still, even if that never happens, at least somebody in Foxrock is pissed off. That's something to be going along with, and An Spailín Fánach has enough circuits of the block under the belt not to be grateful for small mercies.