What Does “Gaelic and Free” Mean in 2016?

Plé '16International speakers to present at bilingual seminar hosted by Trinity College’s Irish-Language Office and Conradh na Gaeilge in Dublin as part of Plé ’16 series

The question of what “Gaelic and Free” means in the context of modern life and the philosophy of the Irish-language movement in the lead up to the 1916 Rising will be the topic of debate by both Irish and international speakers at a bilingual public seminar organised by Trinity College’s Irish Language Office and Conradh na Gaeilge in TCD’s Science Gallery, Dublin 2, at 7.00pm on Monday, 23 November 2015.

Cóilín Ó Cearbhaill, President of Conradh na Gaeilge, says:

“Conradh na Gaeilge is delighted to be launching the Plé ’16 seminar series, which will inspire a new conversation on the revival of Irish, in Trinity College, across the road from the house in which the Pearse brothers were born.

“In 1915 Patrick Pearse stated his intention to achieve an Ireland, “Not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well” ; today, in 2015, we are inviting speakers from all over the Gaelic world to help us reimagine what being Gaelic and free means in the 21st Century.”

Speakers from a range of diverse backgrounds will share their perspective on the question of Cad is brí le “Saor agus Gaelach” in 2016? at the seminar in Trinity College on 23 November 2015, including: Professor Eunan O’Halpin from the School of History in Trinity College, Dublin; Professor Allan MacInnes from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland; Dr Chris McGimpsey, former Belfast City Councillor and member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP); Íte Ní Chionnaith, former President of Conradh na Gaeilge and former Senior Lecturer with Irish in the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT); The Right Reverend Michael Burrows, Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory; and Mary Harris, Senior Lecturer in the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).

Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, says:

“Trinity College is greatly honoured to be involved with Conradh na Gaeilge in an event as significant as this discussion on What does “Gaelic and Free” mean in 2016? Conradh na Gaeilge is an organisation which had a major influence on Irish life in the period prior to the Easter Rising almost one hundred years ago, and was of course founded by a distinguished alumnus of Trinity, the scholar and first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde.

“This series of seminars “Plé ’16” will provide occasion for much public reflection in relation to the importance of the revival of Irish in the context of the Easter Rising 1916 and its upcoming centenary. Our Irish Language Office looks forward to the internationally-based seminar on 23 November inspiring fresh thinking on the concepts of “freedom” and “Gaelic” in the national discourse inspired by the commemorations.”

A simultaneous translation system will be available for the public seminar entitled Cad is brí le “Saor agus Gaelach” in 2016? or What does Gaelic and Free mean in 2016? in the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, at 7.00pm on Monday, 23 November 2015, and all are welcome to attend.


Aonghus Dwane
Irish-Language Officer, Trinity College, Dublin
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Cuan Ó Seireadáin
2016 Coordinator, Conradh na Gaeilge
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The bilingual public seminar will be preceeded by the launch of Conradh na Gaeilge’s 2016 Commemoration Programme.

In addressing the key question What does “Gaelic and Free” mean in 2016? at the bilingual seminar in Trinity College on 23 November 2015, the following key issues will also be examined:

  • Is the understanding of freedom shared by many in the Irish language movement in 1916 appropriate to contemporary contexts?
  • Is political sovereignty necessary in the conservation and promotion of language?
  • What do Unionists with an interest in the Irish language take from the connection made between “Gaelic and Free”?
  • How has linguistic diversity been accommodated in those nations in these islands which did not achieve political sovereignty?
  • How does the southern Protestant minority view the legacy of 1916?
  • What does cultural freedom mean in a globalised world?

The Irish Language Office – Oifig na Gaeilge, TCD – exists to promote the Irish language in Trinity College Dublin, among both staff and students, and to develop outreach to with Irish speakers from the wider community. The Irish Language Officer works with the Irish language committee, Coiste na Gaeilge, to achieve this aim. The Office provides services and information to the university authorities and community concerning the Official Languages Act, and supplies a translation service to staff. The Office also administers Trinity's Irish Language Residency Scheme for students. More information: www.tcd.ie/gaeloifig/

Conradh na Gaeilge is the democratic forum for the Irish-speaking community, and its main aim is to promote the use of Irish as the standard language in Ireland. The organisation works on behalf of the Irish language and the people who use it throughout the island of Ireland and around the world. There are almost 180 branches of Conradh na Gaeilge and it is also possible to register as an individual member. Since the establishment of Conradh na Gaeilge on the 31st July of 1893, its members have been active in promoting the Irish language in every aspect of life in Ireland – from legal matters and education issues, to developments in the media and Irish language services. Conraitheoirí are at the forefront of campaigns to secure and strengthen the rights of the Irish-language community, and all members of Conradh na Gaeilge work hard to develop the use of Irish in their own areas. Conradh na Gaeilge runs Irish-language courses in Dublin, Ennis, Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Newry, Tipperary, and elsewhere across Ireland. More information: www.cnag.ie/courses

Associated Organisations of Conradh na Gaeilge