Address to Seanad Éireann by Mr. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Uasal Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh; a bhean chéile, Helena; baill dá chlainne, Éamonn Ó Muircheartaigh, Niamh Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Aonghus Ó Muircheartaigh, Neasa Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Nuala Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Eadaoin Ní Mhuircheartaigh agus Doireann Ní Mhuircheartaigh; Dominic Wilkinson, céile Neasa; Éibhlín, Máire agus Caitlín, deirfiúracha Mhícheál; Liam de Barra, céile Chaitlín; Dónal, dearthair Mhícheál; Éibhlín, céile Dhónail; Caitríona Ní Dhúbháin, iníon Éibhlín agus neacht Mhícheál; Bríd Uí Mhuircheartaigh, baintreach dhearthair Mhícheál; Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, mac Bhríde; agus Emer Uí Chrualaioch, neacht Mhícheál.

Is onóir speisialta atá agam inniu bheith in ann, thar ceann gach Comhalta sa Teach seo, fáilte mhór go Seanad Éireann a chur roimh an Uasal Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Aoi speisialta atá ann, anseo linn inniu faoi fhorálacha Bhuan-Orduithe an tSeanaid. Tugann na forálacha sin deis dúinn cuireadh a thairgeadh do dhaoine a bhfuil obair mhór déanta acu i réimse an tsaoil phoiblí agus an tsaoil chathartha chun aitheasc speisialta a thabhairt don Teach. Theastaigh uainn Bliain na Gaeilge a chomóradh agus a chéiliúradh agus ba dheacair duine níos oiriúnaí a roghnú don ócáid seo ná Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

Is duine é an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh a bhfuil an-aithne air i ngach contae agus ag gach crosbhóthar in Éirinn mar thoradh ar na blianta a chaith sé ag craoladh ó Pháirc an Chrócaigh agus go leor áiteanna eile faoinár gcluichí náisiúnta. Agus é ina chraoltóir den scoth, thug an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh an Ghaeilge díreach isteach i ngach teaghlach in Éirinn agus chuig na mílte Éireannach atá scaipthe ar fud an domhain.

Ní hamháin gur sheas an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh amach mar gheall ar an stíl chraolacháin speisialta a bhí aige agus an saineolas atá aige ar chúrsaí peile agus iomána, ba é freisin an modh inar nós leis an Ghaeilge a úsáid, í fite fuaite leis an mBéarla, blas breá Chiarraí le clos, chun scéalta na gcluichí a thabhairt dúinn. Thuig an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh go maith, in ainneoin easpa líofachta a bheith ar chuid mhór den lucht éisteachta agus féachana, go raibh dúil ag líon suntasach acu sa Ghaeilge. Thug sé rochtain do dhaoine ar a dteanga náisiúnta féin leis an stíl nádúrtha cainte a bhí aige agus an meon dearfach a léirigh sé.

While the death of the Irish language has been foretold on many occasions, and while we would be failing in our duty not to recognise the challenges it faces, I believe that there are also many reasons for positivity. The evident goodwill that so many of our people have towards the language needs to be harnessed and their use of an Ghaeilge encouraged. I hope that the presence of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh here today, with the popular approach to the language which was the hallmark of his broadcasting style, will help to remind people that the language can be accessible and inspirational at the same time.

Sula leanfaimid ar aghaidh, ba mhaith liom ár mbuíochas a ghabháil leis an Seanadóir Pádraig Ó Céidigh a mhol dúinn an ócáid seo a eagrú agus a rinne go leor oibre chun an ócáid a chur i gcrích. Tá an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh ar na daoine is mó a spreagann muid chun úsáid a bhaint as an nGaeilge anseo sa Seanad, fiú mura bhfuil Gaeilge líofa againn. Anois tá an fheadóg séidte agam agus tá Mícheál i lár na páirce.

Mr. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

Gabhaim míle buíochas leis an gCathaoirleach agus leis na Seanadóirí uilig. Tá sé i gceist agam labhairt faoin tionchar a bhí ag an stair ar chúrsaí Gaeilge agus gnéithe eile de chultúr na hÉireann i rith na mblianta fada. Táim thar a bheith buíoch as an gcuireadh seo a sheol an Seanad chugam chun aitheasc a thabhairt anseo agus Bliain na Gaeilge mar théama. Tá sé i gceist agam labhairt faoin tionchar sin, mar a dúirt mé, a bhí ag an stair. Bhíomar go léir imithe i dtaithí ar Sheachtain na Gaeilge i rith na mblianta when it was suggested to people to use whatever Gaeilge they had during that special week. Mar sin, tá sé ionann agus bheith réabhlóideach, revolutionary even, to brand 2018 as Bliain na Gaeilge. It is a mighty leap forward in comparison with the usual reminder about a week’s promotion of the native language.

Molaim Conradh na Gaeilge agus eagrais eile as ucht an mhisnigh agus an díograis atá acu i leith na bliana seo, the 125th anniversary of the founding of Conradh na Gaeilge, or the Gaelic League as some people refer to it. Dar liomsa tá cúrsaí i bhfad níos fábharaí ag an bpointe seo dár stair ó thaobh cur chun chinn na Gaeilge agus na préamhacha eile de chultúr na tíre ná mar bhí aon uair ó bunaíodh an Stát. The present is a time of great opportunity for further development in the cultural field and I will return to that later.

Más ea, beidh gá le dáiríreacht - sincerity - a chur leis an iarracht ar an mbliain seo a úsáid go tairbheach. The sincerity must come from the top down ag tosú anseo i dTeach Laighean, mar a bhfuil Dáil Éireann agus Seanad Éireann lonnaithe. Nach breá an spreagadh a bheadh ann do phobal na Gaeilge ar fud na tíre agus dóibh siúd go bhfuil bá acu leis an teanga dá mbeadh Gaeilge ar a dtoil ag cuid mhaith dos na Teachtaí Dála agus Seanadóirí? It would encourage the people of Ireland who want Irish to survive if a greater number of Deputies and Senators were fluent in the Irish language.

Beidh cuimhne agam go deo ar chlár teilifíse a craoladh le linn feachtas toghcháin Dála na bliana 2011. During the 2011 general election campaign, bhí ceannairí na bpáirtithe ar fad faoi agallamh trí mheán na Gaeilge ar TG4. Bhí an ceathrar, an Teachta Éanna Ó Coinnigh, an Teachta Micheál Ó Máirtín, an Teachta Gearóid Mac Ádhaimh agus an iar-Theachta Éamon Mac Giollamóir, ar a suaimhneas ag plé na gceisteanna, na polasaithe agus mar sin de. All the party leaders were perfectly at ease debating the affairs of the election in the national language ar an gclár seo a bhí ar TG4 sa bhliain 2011. Maybe this will be expected of future leaders as time moves onwards. Ní nach ionadh go raibh pobal na Gaeilge bródúil as an gclár teilifíse sin. Bhaineadar taitneamh agus sásamh as agus thug sé misneach dóibh. Tá súil agam go bhfeicimid a leithéid go luath arís, maybe during the next general election campaign. It is a question of whether the leaders of the moment will be ready. I hear that one leader is already in training for it. Tarlóidh sé má bhíonn an toil ann. If the will is there to do it, it will happen. It will put very little strain on the national resources.

Projects and schemes that have been prepared or are about to be prepared by organisations in the wide-ranging cultural wing will need financial support if we want to drift with the renewed interest in language, etc. As I see it, language is by far the most significant element in our culture. Creidim go bhfuil sórt Éire nua againn faoi láthair agus gur athrú meoin is mó atá á spreagadh. Tá an ghlúin óg agus roinnt mhaith de dhaoine beagáinín níos sine ná iad lárnach san Éire nua seo. Is deisceabail iad agus is sárchomhartha dóchais dúinn go léir é sin. The new Ireland I see is of relatively recent birth. It is accepted that the gradual decay of the use of Irish as a spoken language began in the cities and towns of eastern Ireland many years ago. There is no need to list the causes right now, but the wheel turns if it is given time. Eastern Ireland is now foremost in embracing a good deal of what we call Irish heritage. For example, tá níos mó imreoirí le Gaeilge labhartha le fáil iontu ar fhoirne Bhaile Átha Cliath. There are more people with fluent Irish on Dublin teams of all grades nowadays than there are on the teams of any other county outside the Gaeltacht counties.

A strong leaning towards Irish heritage is evident in most of the country and in many places overseas, go mórmhór i gcás ceol agus rince. Tá teanga na Gaeilge chun deiridh sa rás forbartha leis na healaíona. Ní mór a thuiscint gur moille forbairt ar theanga ná na cinn eile. Is féidir a rá go bhfuil na cathracha agus bailte ag tabhairt tacaíochta don scéim seo anois. Is maith an múinteoir í an stair. Tuigimid go léir go raibh muintir na hÉireann scriosta brúite tar éis an Ghorta Mhóir, the devastating Famine of the 1840s. Mar a déarfadh Peig Sayers, bhí spiorad na ndaoine le cos amháin san uaigh agus an chos eile ar a bhruach. The spirit of the people had one foot in the grave and the other on the brink. That was the measure of the people’s spirit in the post-Famine period. Níor fhollas dóchas i mórán áiteanna. Efforts were made to rekindle the spirit. I refer, for instance, to the Fenian movement and to the agitation among tenant farmers for freedom from the power of landlords.

I mo thuairim, tharla eachtra sa bhliain 1876 a chur síolta as ar tháinig préamhacha athbheochana, agus atá lárnach i stair na tíre. Sa bhliain sin, bunaíodh an Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. This vibrant society attracted the attention of many people, including Michael Cusack, an fear a bhunaigh an GAA ocht mbliana níos déanaí. Ba mhó go mór suim an Chíosógaigh sa Ghaeilge roimhe sin. Cainteoir dúchais Ghaeilge a bhí ann ó Chontae an Chláir. Dúirt Dubhghlas de hÍde, fear eile a bhí sa chumann a bunaíodh in 1876, gurb é Mícheál Cíosóg an cainteoir Gaeilge is fearr a chuala sé riamh. Bíodh sin mar atá sé, ach is féidir a rá gur eascair a lán gluaiseachtaí, coistí agus eagraíochtaí as an Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Chuir sé daoine ag machnamh. There is nothing like putting people thinking. From the varied deliberations, it became clear that the state of Irish music, song, dance, sport and drama, etc. was poor and low. It was almost close to extinction at that time.

It was timely for the seeds of preservation of the many facets of the old native traditions to be truly sown. The results are relevant to us today as a vital part in defining who we are. Tháinig an dóchas thar n-ais. Bunaíodh Cumann Lúthchleas Gael nó an GAA sa bhliain 1884, Conradh na Gaeilge in 1893 agus Sinn Féin in 1903. Several other movements began at this time. All of them were geared towards getting Ireland to be a better place. Bhí an seanspiorad thar n-ais i muintir na hÉireann. Bhí éileamh mór ar chraobhacha de Chonradh na Gaeilge. Chláraigh daoine gan Ghaeilge agus lucht gnó leo. Is é sin an míniú ar an gcúis gur i mBéarla a bhíodh miontuairiscí roinnt de chruinnithe chraobhacha an chonartha sna blianta tosaigh. That the minutes of meetings of the Gaelic League in many places were written in English suggests that people with little or no Irish were anxious to be part of the new confidence. Is cosúil go raibh fáilte roimh gach duine a tháinig thar thairseach isteach.

Ina iomláine, the last 25 years of the 1800s must be viewed as setting the scene for Ireland’s future, with thoughts of freedom and self-government becoming more frequent as the years went on. Bhí an spiorad i réim arís, buíochas le Dia, agus tá sé linn ó shin. Bhí daoine cumasacha bainteach leis an Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Mar a luaigh mé, bhí Mícheál Cíosóg, Dubhghlas de hÍde agus go leor eile gníomhach ag múineadh ranganna Gaeilge in ionaid mar an Celtic Literary Society. They were all active where action was needed. Músclaíodh arís an tsuim a bhíodh i gceol na hÉireann sna seanlaethanta nuair bhíodh na taoisigh Ghaelacha i gcumhacht agus pátrúnacht á dhéanamh acu ar ghnéithe a bhain leis an traidisiún Gaelach. Bhí an traidisiún sin bríomhar agus folláin agus mar a chéile leis na préamhacha eile de na seantraidisiúin, an spórt ina measc.

Ar shlí amháin, tá sé ait go raibh spórt san áireamh ag an am nuair a bhí na seantaoisigh ann, mar bhí bac ar dhaoine teacht le chéile chun spórt a eagrú de réir Acht a ritheadh 500 bliain roimhe sin agus nár cuireadh ar ceal go dtí aimsir an Ghorta. Is é sin an fáth nár bunaíodh aon chumann spóirt in Éirinn go dtí gur tháinig na 1860í tar éis an Ghorta. Bhí spórt ann d'ainneoin an dlí. A very strange law that was passed in 1367 had made it illegal for any group of people to come together for the purpose of organising sport. Chuirfí i bpríosún iad. Dá mbeadh an riail sin ann anois, bheadh a lán agaibhse agus mise i bpríosún chomh maith. Dar ndóigh, buille trom don chultúr a bhí ann nuair a thit córas agus cumhacht na dtaoisigh Ghaelacha as a chéile tar éis Cath Cionn tSáile na bliana 1603. The defeat at the Battle of Kinsale dealt a deadly blow to Irish culture for a while. The defeat of the Irish chieftains led to a road of decline for poetry, music, language and Irish heritage in general due to the lack of patronage from any source. Is as sin a thuigtear an tábhacht a bhí le gluaiseacht na hathbheochana sa bhliain 1876.

Is as a tháinig na feiseanna a bhí go líonmhar agus cosa curtha i dtalamh athuair ag na míreanna éagsúla den traidisiún. I saol na linne seo, is léas mór dóchais é an fhorbairt atá tagtha ar oireachtas na Gaeilge le cúpla bliain anuas. Is féile mhór í anois, go bhfuil aird ag pobal mór ar le cúpla bliain. Cad déarfadh sibh le hoireachtas breise i mbliain seo na Gaeilge agus an ceann seo amuigh faoin aer mar a bhíonn a lán rudaí na laethanta seo agus é a bheith amuigh faoin aer in aice le Teamhair na Rí? Cinnte go gcosnódh sé roinnt airgid ach deireann Baill an Rialtais linn go bhfuil an eacnamaíocht ag treabhadh leis go maith agus cá bhfios ná go mbeadh deontas le fáil i gcomhair an oireachtas a thabhairt amach faoin aer. Tá sé go maith istigh i dtithe agus in óstáin agus sna hallaí móra ach is fearr fós a bheadh sé anois agus arís amuigh faoin aer.

Creidim go láidir i gcleachtadh na poiblíochta agus nach cuid dár n-oidhreacht é, nach duine dár saoithe fadó a dúirt muna bhfuil agat ach pocán gabhair, bí i lár an aonaigh leis. Even if you only have a puck goat for sale you should be in the middle of the market with it agus sin rud gur cóir breis béime a chur ar phoiblíocht na Gaeilge.

Leanaimis orainn anois i dtreo na linne seo agus b'fhéidir go bhféadfaimis truslóg fhada a thógáil ó thús na haoise seo caite go dtí an lá inniu. Tuigim gur sa tréimhse sin a tharla eachtraí móra i stair ár dtíre ag tosú le réiteach ar Chogadh na Talún le hAcht Wyndham 1903 a bhí i bhfad chun tosaigh ar Achtanna a chuaigh roimhe. Bhí Éirí Amach na Cásca sa tréimhse sin, Cogadh na Saoirse agus Cogadh na gCarad sular bunaíodh An Saorstát. The solution of the Land War and the events of the Rising of 1916, the War of Independence that followed agus an Cogadh Cathartha have all been well chronicled and they are familiar to the current young generations only in recent times.

I suggested earlier that they belong to a new Ireland. Éire nua ach conas ann dó? How did it happen and why did it happen? Athraíonn an saol de réir a chéile agus sin mar a bheidh go deo na ndeor. Is dóigh liom go raibh tionchar an-mhór ar fad ag an mbealach gur deineadh comóradh agus ceiliúradh ar eachtraí Éirí Amach 1916 sa bhliain 2016. Chuaigh an léiriú agus an comóradh sin go mór i bhfeidhm ar na daoine óga agus daoine eile nach raibh eolach ar na cúrsaí sin roimhe sin. Chuaigh an comóradh a bhí snadhmtha le chéile i bhfeidhm ar a lán daoine agus thuigeadar don gcéad uair an spiorad, an dóchas agus an íobairt a rinne daoine ó gach páirt in Éirí Amach 1916 agus na heachtraí ina dhiaidh.

Sin é an ghlúin nua. D'fhoghlaim siad le déanaí agus tá siad fillte ar an ndúchas go mórmhór na daoine óga. Is mó go mór anois a meas agus a grá ar thraidisiúin an chultúir, ná mar a bhí roimh 2016 agus gan amhras ar na daoine a bhí sáite san iarracht chun an lá sin a thabhairt chun cinn, saoirse a fháil agus an cultúr a chothú.

Ní gá go mbeadh aon sampla amháin a thabhairt agus is é Pádraig Mac Piarais a roghnaím agus roghnódh a lán daoine é. Múinteoir a bhí ann. Bhunaigh sé Scoil Éanna i Ráth Fhearnáin i mBaile Átha Cliath. Bhí éileamh ag tuismitheoirí ar an léinn, an Ghaeilge teanga na scoile agus bhí béim ar iomáint mar phríomhspórt na scoile. Bhí baint ag Pádraig le heagrú comórtais spóirt do na scoileanna i mBaile Átha Cliath. Chuir sé féin comórtas ar siúl. File ab ea é agus eagarthóir An Claidheamh Soluis, the sword of light, the promotional organ of Conradh na Gaeilge. B'shin é an sórt duine a bhí ann agus tá cuma ar an scéal gur fear é a bhí thar a bheith gnóthach leis na cúraimí sin go léir ach bhí fís aige. Thug sé cead a chos don bhfís a bhí an-ghar dá chroí agus tá sé luaite i ndán leis ag deireadh an dáin:

Do thugthas [m'aghaidh]

ar an ród so romham,

ar an gníomh do [dhéanfad],

's ar an mbás do gheobhad.

Eisean agus na daoine a bhí ina theannta sa ghluaiseacht a d'fhág oidhreacht shaibhir againn agus tá sé sin anois ag an Éire nua a rinne mé tagairt dó.

Tá muinín agam as an nglúin óg agus creidim go bhfuil sé caothúil don Stát ag an bpointe seo céimeanna a thógáil chun cur leis an dea-mhéin atá ann faoi láthair don Ghaeilge agus iliomad gnéithe eile den gcultúr uasal saibhir atá inár seilbh. Narbh fhiú go mór saineolaithe a ghairm le chéile ag an Rialtas go luath i mbliain na Gaeilge chun teacht ar scéim. A scheme that would give an injection of energy and invention to the giant which is our native language. That language is calling for extra support agus ba chóir go dtiocfadh sé ón Rialtas.

Tugaim an meon nua faoi ndeara nuair a bhím ag spaisteoireacht ar fud na tíre. Labhrann a lán daoine Gaeilge liom agus is léir go mbíonn fonn orthu sin a dhéanamh. Is léir dom go bhfuil méadú mór tagtha ar an líon daoine go bhfuil Gaeilge acu agus a bhaineann úsáid aisti nuair a bhíonn an deis acu. Is breá liom casadh leis na daoine sin.

In a gcás, ní mór creidiúnt a thabhairt do thuismitheoirí agus don gcóras oideachais ó thaobh na Gaeilge de a thug misneach, tuiscint agus mothú tábhachta dóibh. Mar a tharla céad bliain roimhe sin, tháinig eagraíocht nua isteach i réimse an oideachais go luath i 70í na haoise seo caite, Gaelscoileanna. Arís, ní mór dul siar sa stair. Rinne an Rialtas a tháinig i gcumhacht tar éis bunú an Stáit iarracht fónta lena chinntiú go mbeadh fáil ag na bunscoileanna ar fud na tíre go léir ar mhúinteoirí go mbeadh togha na Gaeilge acu. Bunaíodh coláistí ullmhúcháin, coláistí cónaithe in ionaid eagsúla sa tír. Cuid acu do bhuachaillí agus scar eile do chailíní den aois ghrúpa a bheadh ag freastal ar oideachas dara leibhéal. De bhunadh na nGaeltachtaí a bhformhór, ach tháinig daoine ó chontaetha eile chomh maith. Gaeilge gnáth-theanga na gcoláistí sin agus deineadh an múineadh ar fad trí mheán na Gaeilge.

Tar éis dhá bhliain a chaitheamh i gcoláiste oiliúna ina dhiaidh sin, chiallaigh sé go raibh sruth de mhúinteoirí go raibh togha na Gaeilge acu ar fáil chun dul ag múineadh ins na bunscoileanna ar fud na tíre ar fad. Tús maith a bhí ann cinnte ag an Rialtas nua. I lár na 1920í a bunaíodh na coláistí ullmhúcháin sin ach nach bhfuil sé ráite nach mbíonn i ngach aon rud ach seal agus cuireadh deireadh leo go luath ins na 1970í.

Ag an am bhí a lán scoileanna dara leibhéal ag teagasc trí mheán na Gaeilge ar fud na tíre agus baisteadh A scoileanna orthu siúd. Tháinig laghdú de réir a chéile ar líon na scoileanna sin agus ar an líon a bhí ag teagasc trí mheán na Gaeilge ins na bunscoileanna freisin. I dtús na 70í den aois seo caite, ní raibh ach ceithre scoil déag lasmuigh de na Gaeltachtaí ag teagasc trí mheán na Gaeilge agus b'shin géarchéim má bhí géarchéim ann riamh.

Ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, bunaíodh eagraíocht Gaelscoileanna agus é de mhian aige go mbeadh oideachas ar fáil trí Ghaeilge agus go mbeadh béim ar gach aon chéim de chultúr na Gaeilge ins na scoileanna sin. Mar a dúirt mé ní raibh ach seacht scoil sa tír iomlán ag an am a bhí ag teagasc trí mheán na Gaeilge ach d'éirigh go seoigh le gluaiseacht na nGaelscoileanna agus na Gaelcholáistí dara leibhéal atá ar fud na tíre anois agus tá rath orthu. Is folláin é go bhfuil rogha ag tuismitheoirí oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge a bheith ar fáil chomh maith le scileanna trí Bhéarla a deintear an teagasc go léir. It is of the utmost importance that parents have a choice of having their children taught through the medium of either Irish or English agus glacann gach aon duine leis sin anois.

Sula rachaidh mé go dtí cúpla pointe breise, teastaíonn uaim sampla amháin a thabhairt den éifeacht a bhí i bPádraig Mac Piarais chun daoine go raibh fís acu féin teacht go dtí Scoil Éanna. An t-ainm a luafidh mé ná, duine darbh ainm Proinsias De Búrca. Bhí aithne agam ar Phroinsias De Búrca, fear go raibh an-aithne aige ar Phádraig Mac Piarais. Rugadh é i gContae Chill Dara ach d'aistrigh an clann go dtí Ráth Fhearnáin go luath ins na 1990í, 1990 nó bliain nó dhó ina dhiadh sin.

Cuireadh é go dtí scoil chónaithe dara leibhéal thíos i gCeatharlach. Bhí sé bliain ann. Thóg sé a chamán leis ach dúradh leis nuair a shroich sé an áit gur cruicéad spórt na scoile. Ní raibh aon dul as aige ach cruicéad a imirt. Ach ar ámharaí an tsaoil, mar a dúirt sé féin liom nuair a bhí sé sa bhaile ar saoire an samhradh ina dhiadh sin, do chonaic sé fógra i bhfuinneog siopa i Ráth Fhearnáin i dtaobh scoil an Phiarsaigh. Thaitin sé leis go raibh gach rud trí Ghaeilge agus thaitin an Gaelachas leis, ach ba é an rud is mó a chuaigh i bhfeidhm air ná gurbh é iomáint cluiche na scoile. Chláraigh sé ansin ann. Bhí sé faoi thionchar Phádraig Mac Piarais. Chuaigh sé go dtí an ollscoil. D'fhill sé ar an gcoláiste mar mhúinteoir. Ghlac sé páirt san Éirí Amach. Bhí sé sa GPO sa bhliain 1916 agus bhí sé i ngéibheann ina dhiadh sin. Nuair a bhí deireadh leis na trioblóidí bhuaigh sé bonn uile-Éireann faoi dhó san iomáint le hÁtha Cliath agus sa pheil faoi thrí. Go dtí an lá a fuair sé bás níor labhair é le héinne a raibh Gaeilge acu aon rud ach Gaeilge leo. Is minic a dúirt sé mura bhfaca sé an fógra sin a tharraing é go dtí Coláiste Éanna, ní ghabhfadh sé ar an mbóthar ar thug taitneamh an-mhór dó.

Anois mar chríoch, tá cúpla moladh le cur i láthair agam. Is dóigh liom gur chóir díríú ar na Gaeltachtaí. Ní fheadar an dtuigeann a lán daoine sa Rialtas chomh tábhachtach is atá na Gaeltachtaí. Tá an Ghaeilge agus na traidisiúin chomh láidir ansin agus a bhí siad ar fud na hÉireann 500 bliain ó shin. Ba chóir dul i dtoll orthu scéimeanna atá curtha le cheile i rith na mblianta nár cuireadh i bhfeidhm riamh, iad a chur i bhfeidhm agus deis a thabhairt don Ghaeilge leathnú amach ó na Gaeltachtaí. Tá súil agam go dtarlódh sé.

Rud eile a dhéarfainn - agus nílim ag cáineadh an Rialtais - ná go bhfuil dualgas air a chinntiú go mbeidh soláthar cuí d’oidí bunscoile le hardchaighdeán Gaeilge ar fáil chomh luath agus is féidir. Tá sé sin práinneach mar níl dótháin dóibh ann ag an bpointe seo i mo thuairimse. Tá an óige go maith agus tá nós acu anois a bheith gafa leis na meáin chumarsáide. Is dóigh liom gur chóir béim níos mó a chur leis sin - le teagmháil idir na scoileanna éagsúla a bhfuil Gaeilge acu. Tá sé go hiontach go ndéanann siad an rud sin go léir trí Ghaeilge.

Táím chun Páirc an Chrócaigh a lua anois. Bíonn an Ghaeilge labhartha ar fheabhas ar fad ann. Tá tabhairt ainmneacha na bhfoirne, caint faoi na himreoirí agus na hathruithe agus gach rud go hiontach ar fad. Ach níl a oiread agus focal amháin Gaeilge le feiscint os na hardáin ar fud na háite ar fad. Tá a lán fógraí ann ach theip orm - agus thriail mé é cúpla uair - focal amháin Gaeilge a aimsiú. Nuair a luaim é sin le daoine deir siad go gcaithfear a bheith branded chun rudaí a bheith ann agus de réir dealraimh níl an Ghaeilge branded. Fiú amháin nuair a bhítear ag féachaint isteach ar an ardán ón bpáirc, nuair a bhíonn bronnadh á dhéanamh, ní fheictear Páirc an Chrócaigh scríofa faoi ach Croke Park. Ní chosnódh sé aon rud rudaí mar sin a athrú agus tá súil agam go dtarlóidh sé.

Chuala mé ar Raidió na Gaeltachta inné go bhfuil stráice talún ar Oileán an Bhlascaoid fógraithe ar díol. Is cuid dár n-oidhreacht é an t-oileán féin as ucht na ndaoine a tháinig as. Molaim go gceannódh an Rialtas an stráice talún sin agus úsáid a bhaint as chun scéim Ghaeilge éigin a chur ar siúl. B'fhéidir gur mithid go mbeadh club Gaelach i dTeach Laighean nó, mar a thugann na daoine óga air anois, pop-up Gaeltacht.

Pé rud, is dóigh liom go bhfuil mo dhóthain ráite agam. Táim an-bhuíoch ar fad as an gcuireadh a fuaireas. Dúradh gurb é an Seanadóir Pádraig Ó Céidigh a chur tús leis. Gabhaim míle buíochas leis agus le gach duine as an gcuireadh agus an onóir a thabhairt domsa bheith i láthair inniu. Críochnóidh mé le seanfhocal Gaeilge eile - go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís nuair a bheidh an Ghaeilge slán sábháilte.

Bhí sé sin go hiontach ar fad. Is í an chéad chainteoir chun tús a chur leis an ndíospóireacht ná an Seanadóir Catherine Ardagh as Baile Átha Cliath. Tá cúig nóiméad aici.

Ar dtús báire, cuirim fáilte mhór roimh an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh agus a chlann sa Ghailearaí uaimse féin agus ó ghrúpa Fhianna Fáil sa Seanad. Tógadh mé ag éisteacht leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh ar an raidió gach Domhnach. Tá guth álainn suaimhneach aige agus lean a ghuth gach clann, mo chlann fein san áireamh, timpeall na tíre. Bhaineamar go léir an-sult agus an-taitneamh as ar feadh a ghairme ar fad. Gabhaim buíochas leis chomh maith as ucht an obair atá déanta aige maidir le feabhsú agus cur chun cinn na Gaeilge, go háirithe trí mheán an spóirt, le 60 bliain anuas. Gabhaim buíochas freisin leis an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh as an lá seo a réiteach. Is Seanadóir den scoth é agus tá sé an-phaiseanta maidir le cur chun cinn agus feabhsú na Gaeilge sa tír.

Maidir le Bliain na Gaeilge, tá sé ar cheann de chuspóirí Fhianna Fáil ó thráth a bhunaithe an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn mar theanga bheo i measc na ndaoine agus cearta na ndaoine a labhraíonn an teanga a chosaint. Is gá dúinn cinnteacht i bhfad níos dearfaí a chur ar fail ó thaobh polasaithe fádtéarmacha don Ghaeilge. Caithfear deireadh a chur leis an éiginnteacht a tharlaíonn mar gheall ar an ngá a bhíonn ann go rialta le troid i gcoinne iarrachtaí stádas a bhaint ón teanga. Ba chóir go mbeadh meas ag gach páirtí ar an nGaeilge mar ghné éigeantach den scolaíocht agus mar ábhar príomhthábhachtach sa tseirbhís phoiblí i gcoitinne. Nuair is gá díospóireacht a dhéanamh go rialta ag amanna toghcháin, treisítear leis an tuiscint go bhféadfaí athrú a theacht air sin. Cuirtear an díospóireacht féin as a riocht nuair a chuirtear cúis na teanga i gcónaí ar an gcosaint. Ba mhór an chéim chun tosaigh a bheadh ann dá n-aontódh na páirtithe go léir gur cheist sin nach bhféadfaí í a chur ar chlár díospóireachta a thuilleadh.

Nuair a sheol an Teachta Éamon Ó Cuív an straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge ba é an chéad uair gur aontaigh rialtas ar bith cur chuige cumasach fádtéarmach maidir le forbairt na teanga. Is ní aithiseach gur bhrúdh go leor de phríomhghnéithe na straitéise ar leataobh leis an neamhaird ar fhorbairt phobail agus leis an séanadh, le seacht mbliana anuas, Aire sinsearach Rialtais a cheapadh ar a mbeadh cúram pearsanta maidir leis an réimse sin. Cuireadh cuid mhór smaointe iontacha i láthair le linn an phróisis comhairliúcháin don straitéis sin agus níor dearcadh orthu ó shin. Mar a tharlaíonn le réimsí eile chomh maith, is é an teip seo pleananna a chur i bhfeidhm an rud is tromchúisí. Is é mo thuairimse gur chóir cúram pearsanta maidir leis an nGaeilge agus leis an nGaeltacht a leagan ar Aire sinsearach agus gur chóir don Aire sin ceannródaíocht a dhéanamh ina leith. Tá an deis ann i gcónaí maidir le teanga na tíre seo. Tá éileamh mór i gcónaí ar an nGaeilge sa chóras oideachais agus seasann cuid mhór den phobal le bearta cúnta a dhéanamh maidir leis an nGaeilge mar chuid de ghnáthshaol, den gcultúr agus den saol poiblí.

Mar fhocal scoir, ba mhaith liom aontú leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. Ceapaim gur chóir dúinn club Gaeilge a bhunú anseo i dTeach Laighean. Is smaoineamh iontach é seo.

Is é an chéad duine eile an Seanadóir mórthábhachtach, Pádraig Ó Céidigh.

Gabhaim buíochas leis an gCeannaire as ucht a thacaíochta le cuireadh a thabhairt chuig an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh teacht anseo inniu, labhairt linn agus a chuid físe, a chuid tuairimíochta agus an taithí atá aige ó thaobh na Gaeilge de a chur i láthair chuile duine sa Seanad. Ón uair a luaigh mé é seo den chéad uair thug chuile Sheanadóir fíor-thacaíocht don chuireadh d'Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. Tá cúis mhaith leis sin mar is laoch é do phobal na tíre seo.

Ní hamháin do mhuintir an tSeanaid, do mhuintir na Dála agus do phobal na tíre seo, is cuma cén aois iad, óg meánaosta nó sean. Tá níos mo déanta agatsa ní hamháin ó thaobh Chumann Lúthchleas Gael ach ó thaobh an chultúir agus na Gaeilge de, ná mar atá déanta, dar liomsa, ag aon duine eile a bhfuil aithne agamsa air sa tír seo. Luann tú ansin Pádraig Mac Piarais. Bhuel, tá Pádraig Mac Piarais eile ina shuí ansin, agus táimid an-bhuíoch de sin, agus táim lán-dáiríre faoi sin. Do do bhean agus do do chlann, is iontach an onóir go bhfuil sibhse anseo freisin, mar is sibhse cuid de gné lárnach na seoda fíor-thábhachtaí atá againne sa tír seo. Molaim go láidir sibh agus an tacaíocht agus an cúnamh atá sibh ag tabhairt do Mhicheál i rith na mblianta. Go raibh míle maith agaibh.

Rinne an tUasal Ó Muicheartaigh cúpla pointe atá, dar liomsa, fíor-thábhachtach. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir Ardagh ansin, tá sé thar am againn, go mbeadh cumann Gaelach againn anseo sa Seanad. Is é sin rud beag ar féidir linn a thosú. B'fhéidir go labhróimid faoi sin níos deireanaí, go dtosóimid air sin díreach anseo sa bhliain seo. Freisin, a Chathaoirligh, roinn mé mo chuid ama le mo chara agus mo chomhghleacaí as Tír Chonaill, an Seanadóir Brian Ó Domhnaill, agus beidh mé cúig nóiméad nó mar sin uilig ag labhairt. Meabhraigh dom le do thoil tar éis cúig nóiméad.

Cúpla rud ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Rugadh is tógadh mise sa Ghaeltacht i gConamara agus ní raibh aon airgead againn; bhíomar bocht. Is í an Ghaeilge an chéad teanga. B'éigean do m'athair dul go Sasana nuair a bhí sé ina leaid óg. Chas sé le mo mháthair ann, is as Baile Conaola do mo mháthair. Ní raibh aon Bhéarla ag m'athair. Bhí air an Béarla a fhoghlaim. Bhí seisean ag iarraidh go mbeadh cúpla focal Béarla ag chuile dhuine againn mar dúirt sé gurbh shin é an passport a bhí agat le dul thar sáile le jab a bheith agat. Buíochas le Dia tá an saol athraithe. Ta meas mór ar an nGaeilge anois. Tá thart ar 1.75 milliún duine sa tír seo a deir go labhraíonn siad an Ghaeilge, nó go bhfuil roinnt Gaeilge acu. Bhí mé ag plé le páipéar Gaeilge, mar is cuimhin leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh, Foinse. An bhfuil a fhios aige cé mhéad léitheoir sa tseachtain a bhí ag an bpáipéar sin? Suas le 200,000 léitheoir sa tseachtain a bhí aige. Tá suim an-mhór ag pobal na tíre seo sa Ghaeilge, agus cén fáth? Mar feiceann siad gur Éireannaigh iad, agus go bhfuil an Ghaeilge agus an cultúr sa teanga lárnach maidir le cén sórt daoine muid féin. Our language is part of who we are. It is an asset one cannot touch, one cannot feel it, it is like the air one breathes; it keeps one alive. It keeps us energetic, it gives that uniqueness of what we are about. Molaim an Taoiseach go láidir nuair a dúirt sé go mbeidh 2018 againn ó thaobh Bliain na Gaeilge de. Mar a dúirt an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh, is rud é seo nach bhfuil ann ach deireadh seachtaine Lá Fhéile Pádraig. Is rud leanúnach a chaithfimid a choinneáil ag imeacht. Is cuma liom, ní gá go mbeadh tú ar chuid mhór Gaeilge. Má ta cúpla focal Gaeilge ag duine, tá sé sin chomh tábhachtach céanna le duine ar nós an Uasail Uí Mhuircheartaigh nó mise, a bhfuil an Ghaeilge ar ár dtoil againn.

An fhís a bheadh agam ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, ná go mbeadh gach saoránach sa tír seo in ann an Ghaeilge a úsáid go feidhmiúil, go laethúil má tá sé sin ag teastáil uathu. What do we mean when we say that every Irish citizen can use the Irish language on a daily basis, if and when they so wish? Má tá daoine ag iarraidh a gcuid gasúr a thógáil le Gaeilge, do we mean go mbeadh siad in ann é sin a dhéanamh? If they want to send their kids to an all-Irish language education school, or institute, they can do it, they should not be blocked from doing it. Does it mean that we actually become serious, dáiríre ó thaobh na Gaeilge de? Molaim Rialtais éagsúla, ó thaobh na Gaeilge ach tá i bhfad níos mó le dul againn. Mar sin í an fhís. Tá na fíricí ag dul ar an taobh mícheart. Mar shampla sa daonáireamh 2016, bhí 39% in ann an Ghaeilge a labhairt. Tá laghdú ag teacht air sin ó thaobh an phlean 2010 go 2030. Tá na cainteoirí dúchais ag laghdú, cainteoirí na nGaeltachtaí, is é sin tobar na Gaeilge: na Gaeltachtaí. Caithfimid brú mór a chur air sin agus béim mhór a chur ar na Gaeltachtaí, rud nach bhfuil muid ag déanamh. Tá infheistíocht ó Údarás na Gaeltachta laghdaithe go 70% le deich mbliana anuas.

B'fhéidir gur tuairim é seo maidir le cúrsaí gnó de. If one wants to really do something and make a difference where does one start? One starts from where one is at now. One has to understand where one is now. Cá bhfuil mé anois? Where do I want to go? Cá bhfuil mé ag iarraidh dul? The strategy is the road one takes to get there. I am asking that this vision be shared, that every Irish citizen would have the ability and possibility to actually use Irish as frequently as they want, particularly in dealing with State bodies. If that is where one wants to get to, let us look at where we are at now. Let us make sure we build the bridge together. That is not political, that is for the people of Ireland to get there. Micheál, you have inspired us to actually start thinking and working in that direction.

Tá sé an-tábhachtach go dtabharfaimid tacaíocht dár gcomhghleacaithe i dTuaisceart Éireann, ó thaobh Acht na Gaeilge de agus fhorbairt na Gaeilge. Tá an cead céanna acusan agus atá agamsa agus ag aon duine eile ó thaobh labhairt agus úsáid na Gaeilge ar bhonn laethúil de. Tá sé sin an-tábhachtach, dar liomsa, domsa agus do mhuintir na hÉireann ar fad.

An rud deiridh a iarrfaidh mé ná, ó thaobh múinteoirí, tá an ceart ag an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. An bhfuil a fhios aigr go gcaithfidh ábhar oidí dul ag an nGaeltacht faoi dhó i rith tréimhse traenála? Suas go dtí cúpla bliain ó shin, bhí an Roinn ag íoc as sin. The Department used to pay for it, now people have to pay for it out of their own pocket. What is that saying to people who want to teach in our primary and secondary schools? These are students and the State used to fund this. Caithfidh athrú a theacht air sin. It is not a lot of money.

Freisin, ba chóir go mbeadh seans ag chuile scoláire idirbhliana dul go dtí an Ghaeltacht; every transition year student should be given an opportunity to go to the Gaeltacht for a week to learn Irish. It does not cost a lot of money and this also supports the Gaeltacht. There is a lot more I can say, a Chathaoirligh, but I would like to give Seanadóir Brian Ó Domhnaill, an deis cúpla focal a rá.

Tá sé thar am. Beidh seans ag an Seanadóir Ó Domhnaill labhairt níos déanaí. Anois an Seanadóir Joe O'Reilly as Contae an Chabháin.

Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh. Sular fhágann sé an seomra ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas agus mo chomhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh as ucht na hócáide iontaí seo a eagrú. Is cúis áthais agus bróid dom fáilte ó chroí a chur roimh an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. Is laoch mór ár dtír agus ár dteanga é. Craoltóir den chéad scoth é le cumas iontach sa dá theanga. Ba bhreá liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil leis as ucht an méid atá déanta aige don spórt agus don teanga ar feadh na mblianta. Tá líofacht agus flúirse teanga aige. Tá sé nádúrtha. Tá greann faoi leith aige chomh maith agus tugann sé sin beocht croí agus fuinneamh do na cluichí. Baineann achan duine ó gach aois agus gach ceantar ar fud an domhain sult as a líofacht, a ghreann, agus a mhioneolas faoi na himreoirí agus faoina gclanna.

Ba mhaith liom sampla den ghreann sin a chur os comhair an Tí. I would like now to break into English for a moment to remind Micheál of some of those great humorous moments in his commentaries: Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, his father from Fermanagh, his mother from Fiji, neither a hurling stronghold; Anthony Lynch the Cork corner back will be the last person to let you down, his people are undertakers; and, Colin Corkery on the 45, let us go with the right boot, it is over the bar, this man should not be playing football, he has made an almost Lazarus-like recovery from a heart condition, Lazarus was a great man but he could not kick points like Colin Corkery. That wonderful humour has done so much for our language and our games. Before I go back to an Ghaeilge, one of the features of my childhood growing up in the same community as Senator Wilson, was young lads trying to emulate your commentaries and attempting to repeat them. None of them ever reached the standard that need worry an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh but it was the ultimate tribute that young lads were trying to be Micheál Ó Muircheartaighs all over the place.

Inniu táimid ag ceiliúradh Seachtain na Gaeilge. Is eochair do sheoid luachmhar í ár dteanga. Is eochair dár n-oidhreacht, dár gcultúr agus dár litríocht shaibhir. Is fiú í a chosaint agus a labhairt agus a fhorbairt, agus go háirithe a labhairt. Rinne an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh an t-iomlán don teanga, do chluichí Gaelacha agus don chultúr. Tréaslaím leis sin agus lena chuid dea-oibre. Ba chóir dúinne anseo dea-shampla a thabhairt agus iarracht faoi leith an Ghaeilge a labhairt agus aontaím leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh mar gheall ar an gclub Gaelach. Tugann sé dúshlán dúinn iarracht dháiríre a dhéanamh, mar a deir sé féin.

Dúirt sé gur cheart dúinn, mar pholasaí, níos mó acmhainní a chur ar fáil. Is iontach an smaoineamh é an tOireachtas a thógáil amach faoin spéir. Aontaím go mór leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh go bhfuil na Gaelscoileanna ag méadú agus ag spreagadh ar fud na tíre. Ag an am céanna, mar a dúirt an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh, is cúis díomá é dúinn go léir go bhfuil cineál meath ag teacht ar labhairt na teanga sa Ghaeltacht. Tá sé de dhualgas orainn mar pholaiteoirí rud éigin a dhéanamh faoi sin. Mar a dúirt an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh, caithfimid bheith dáiríre faoin Ghaeltacht. Ar ndóigh, ba cheart dúinn cabhair a thabhairt do mhúinteoirí agus seans a thabhairt dóibh dul go dtí an Ghaeltacht. Is iontach an ócáid í seo. Bhain mé an-sult as smaointe an tUasal Uí Mhuircheartaigh a chloisteáil. Labhair sé faoin stair agus faoi rudaí eile. Guím ádh mór air leis an dea-obair atá ar siúl aige.

Is é an Seanadóir Niall Ó Donnghaile ó Bhéal Feirste an chéad chainteoir eile.

Cuirim fáilte mhór chroíúil Ghaelach roimh an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh agus é i dTeach Laighean agus sa Seanad inniu. Tá an cuma ar an scéal, ag amharc ar an nGailearaí inniu, gur thóg sé foireann peile leis. Tá na sluaite Gaeil linn sa Ghailearaí fosta. Is mian liom fearadh na fáilte a chur roimh chuile dhuine atá i láthair. Is ócáid cheiliúrach í seo ó thaobh cúrsaí Gaeilge agus Bliain na Gaeilge de. Tá ardmholadh tuillte ag an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh agus tréaslaím leis as na hiarrachtaí atá á ndéanamh aige faoi láthair chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn sna hinstitiúidí seo.

Mar a luadh cheana féin, tá ról, stair agus taithí lárnach agus thar a bheith tábhachtach agus suntasach ag an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh i saol na tíre seo, i saol Chumann Lúthchleas Gael agus i saol na Gaeilge. Luaigh an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh na tréimhsí sin i stair na tíre seo nuair a bhí an Ghaeilge faoi chois agus i ngéibheann. Níl an stair sin chomh fada sin uainn, áfach. Ba choinneal lasta é an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh le linn tréimhsí mar sin. Lonraigh sé slí chuig an Ghaeilge fá choinne na sluaite daoine amuigh ansin. Táimid fíorbhuíoch agus fíorbhródúil as an mhéid oibre atá déanta aige ar son na Gaeilge.

Mar a dúirt an Cathaoirleach, is Feirsteach bródúil mé. Is Ultach bródúil agus Gael fíorbhródúil mé chomh maith. Déarfainn go bhfuil seanaithne ag an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh ar an dán, "Mórtas Gael", as a thagann an mana a bhí ag Meánscoil Feirste - Coláiste Feirste a thugtar air anois - nuair a d'fhreastail mé air fadó:

Is Gael mise, nach uasal sin?

Gael im' chroí, Gael im' mheoin

Gael ón sheacht sinsear Gael.

Gael mise agus mé á mhaíomh.

Dúshlán faoin domhan uile cine Gael a shárú.

Táimid iontach bródúil as sin go fóill. Is cineál réalt stiúradh dúinn an dán sin agus muid imithe ón scoil agus ag dul tríd an saol. Mar a luaigh an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh agus cainteoirí eile, is cuisle agus bunchloch na hathbheochana é an Gaeloideachas. Is sa chóras Gaeloideachais a thosaíonn an chuid is mó againn ag dul trí shaol na Gaeilge. Mar a luaigh an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh níos luaithe, go bunúsach is saol trí Ghaeilge atá uainn, mar shampla agus muid ag idirghníomhú leis an Rialtas, le seirbhísí Stáit, le cuideachtaí príobháideacha, leis na pobail timpeall orainn, le Páirc an Chrócaigh agus le Cumann Lúthchleas Gael. Tá an t-iarratas bunúsach simplí sin de dhíth orainn in achan réimse. Saol trí Ghaeilge atá uainn.

Roimhe sin, d'fhreastail mé ar Bhunscoil Phobal Feirste i nGaeltacht Bhóthar Seoighe i mBéal Feirste. Scoil aonad dár gcuid féin a bhí againn. Is cuimhin liom go mór agus go maith nuair a bhí an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh mar aoichainteoir ag ceiliúradh 40 bliain na scoile san Óstán Europa. Bhí mé mar Ard-Mhéara Bhéal Feirste ag an am. Is sampla é sin den turas atá glactha ag an Ghaeilge ní hamháin ó Thuaidh ach ar fud na tíre ina iomláine ón tréimhse nuair a rinneadh bagairt ar na ceannródaithe ar Bhóthar Seoighe go gcuirfear i bpríosún iad mura stopfaidís an cineál réabhlóide a bhí ar bun acu ar Bhóthar Seoighe. Dúradh leo go gcuirfear i ngéibheann iad gan bac agus deireadh a chur le scoil Bhéal Feirste. Tá tréimhse iontach gairid agus gasta caite ón ré sin. Nuair a bhí an scoil ag ceiliúradh 40 bliain ar an bhfód, bhí duine d'iardhaltaí na scoile mar chéad saoránach ar an chathair. B'fhéidir gur sampla maith é sin den dul chun cinn atá déanta san earnáil Gaeloideachais.

Cá háit a bhfuilimid faoi láthair? Mar a dúirt na Seanadóirí a labhair romham, tá orainn a lán a dhéanamh. Tá sé tábhachtach a rá go mbeidh mé gasta. Beidh pop-up Gaeltacht againn i mbeáir na Dála an tseachtain seo chugainn. Beidh fearadh na fáilte roimh an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh má tá sé ag iarraidh freastal ar an ócáid sin. Faoi láthair, níl cultúrlann againn i mBaile Átha Cliath. Níl Aire sinsearach don Ghaeilge againn. Níl plean ná straitéis fá choinne an Ghaeloideachais againn. Níl an plean 20 bliain don Ghaeilge curtha i bhfeidhm go fiúntach agus go héifeachtach. Tá titim tagtha ar an mhaoiniú caipitil don Ghaeilge agus don Ghaeltacht ó €75 milliún in 2008 go dtí €10 milliún i mbliana.

Ní theastaíonn uainn béalghrá a thabhairt don Ghaeilge. Níor cheart go mbeadh na ráitis thábhachtacha seo á ndéanamh againn ina n-aonar. Ba mhaith linn go mbeadh níos mó ná béalghrá i gceist ón Rialtas ó thaobh na Gaeilge de. Mar a luaigh mé an tseachtain seo caite, bhí mana simplí - "ná habair é, déan é" ag na seanfhondúirí a bhí mar cheannródaithe i nGaeltacht Bhóthar Seoighe i mBéal Feirste. Is é sin an t-éileamh atá againn mar Sheanadóirí ón Rialtas i dtaobh na Gaeilge de inniu. Ba cheart go mbeadh "ná habair é, déan é" mar mhana ag lucht an Rialtais in achan rud a dhéanann siad ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, mar shampla sna meáin chumarsáide, sa Stát, san earnáil Gaeloideachais agus san earnáil oideachais níos leithne.

Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir O'Reilly, is iontach an ócáid í seo. Tá áthas mór orm caint ar an ócáid thábhachtach seo. I sometimes have a sense of what is being said in Irish, but my confidence in speaking Irish is weak. Today, I publicly ask for the support of others to help me improve my Irish. I also want to ask others to be more conscious and appreciative of how we speak English in Ireland. I will come back to the question of Hiberno-English i gcúpla nóiméad. An Seanadóir Ó Céidigh said that Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh is a hero. I think he is also greatly loved throughout this land by young and old. People who do not have a word of Irish love to hear Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh weave between the Gaeilge and the Béarla. I think it says something about the fact that Irish, and the way we speak English in Ireland, is oral. It is an oral tradition. It has not been captured by the written word and the power of a written grammar in the same way that the English language and other languages have.

Compulsion or force is a very poor teacher. Our first President, Dubhghlas de hÍde, who has been mentioned, founded the Gaelic League. He referred the School Attendance Bill 1942 to the Supreme Court on the question of compulsory Irish. In 1943, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Gaelic League, he said that "a nation without a language is like a soldier without a weapon". If he had been from my native county of Tipperary rather than from County Roscommon, he might have said that a nation without a language is like a hurler without a hurley, but we will forgive him that one.

Micheál went through very well in his presentation that our language and national games, through the work of the Gaelic League, the GAA and others, were vital in raising our spirit and self-confidence, which is an-tábhachtach ar fad, prior to achieving our freedom, and as part of being able to achieve our freedom. This sense of self is a missing ingredient in many of the former Soviet states, as I would see it. I have travelled to many of them in my work with regard to disability, and it is restricting their development. I have mentioned disability, and Micheál has been a great supporter of the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. He has supported my organisation with regard to our disability inclusion and equality campaigns and many others. I thank him so much for this.

As I travelled through other states in Europe with my work, I became aware that I needed to change how I speak. I cannot speak as I speak at home because if I do, no one will understand half of what I say. This is mostly about stripping back my Irish way of speaking English, of which I have not always been aware. We forget we speak English in an Irish way, with an idiom, a turn of phrase, vocabulary and grammar. The further west, south west and north west we go in this country the more we see this. The idea of a cumann Gaelach in the Oireachtas has been rightly mentioned, but let us also remember we have people in both Houses of the Oireachtas and otherwise, and I am thinking of some of the Kerry Members in particular, who speak English in a very Irish way. This is something we should not lose because it is part of not having been consumed by the empire.

I want to mention very briefly Professor Terence Dolan who was professor of old and middle English in UCD. He was the one back in the early 1980s who brought me alive to the idea of Hiberno-English and the way in which we speak and our grammar and turn of phrase, the way words have migrated from Irish into our English language and how words from English have migrated the other way. He said that a great thing about Hiberno-English is that it is a distillation of the Irish character. We often speak in code and people from rural areas can be very oblique. Over the centuries, Irish people have been oppressed and, therefore, they do not want other people to know what they might be thinking or saying. There are lots of influences. Towards the end of his contribution, Seanadóir Ó Céidigh asked cá bhfuilimid anois. From my perspective, two legs of the stool are strongly standing. These are sport and song and dance. We should not be without hope that we will bolster the third leg of the stool, which is to revive and bring back the Irish language. An important step in this is for us to be conscious of how we speak English. We speak it in a very Irish way and we should be proud of this and let it help us.

Ba mhaith liom míle fáilte a chur roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Is cuairteoir cáiliúil, speisialta é. Tá meas faoi leith ag muintir na hÉireann air. Micheál is heartily welcome to Seanad Éireann to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge. I am more than familiar with meeting him over the years, mainly in Croke Park and around the country, and I am delighted to meet him in this setting. He has visited more dressing rooms on tension filled all-Ireland days than any player or manager in the country. What some people here may not know is that over the years he has also been a trainer. For many years, he trained the Kerry and Mayo players in Dublin. He got great credit for Kerry winning all-Irelands, and he is the only man I know who never got any blame for Mayo not winning the all-Ireland. This is unique in itself.

He has been an excellent ambassador for the Irish language over the years, officially and unofficially. He has been instrumental in giving people pride in our native language and has had a huge influence in popularising and promoting the Irish language, our native tongue, over many years. I am not a fluent Irish speaker, but he gave me the love of the language to send my children to Coláiste Iascaigh and the Gaeltacht in Galway over the years. I am proud to say some of them are now fluent Irish speakers because of this. His influence has been paralleled by TG4 and Raidio na Gaeltachta, on which he has been many times. They have also popularised our language, games and culture over the years. Guím rath Dé air agus ar an obair fhiúntach a dhéanann sé.

Anois glaoim ar an Seanadóir Mark Daly ó Neidín i gContae Chiarraí.

Is ócáid speisialta agus stairiúil í seo. Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh agus a chlann. Nuair a bhí mo chlann féin ag féachaint ar chluichí Ciarraí ar an teilifís san am ina raibh Mícheál fós ag tráchtaireacht - when Mícheál was commentating on matches involving Kerry and everybody else - chas siad fuaim na teilifíse síos agus d'ardaigh siad fuaim an raidió. Dúirt sé gur múinteoir maith í an stair. It is true that history is a great teacher. I do not think Mark Twain put it as well, but he did also say history does not repeat itself as much as it rhymes. Micheál spoke about our greatest generation that gave us an saoirse. In many ways, that struggle began with the cultural and language revolution of 125 years ago and the sporting revolution of the GAA. Without all of this creativity in culture and identity there would not have been a 1916 Rising. All of the people who were central to the language revival and cultural revolution over 100 years ago were part of that revolution in 1916.

He also spoke about history being a teacher in terms of the fact it is also part of our future. As well as our sport and culture being part of our future, our language must be part of that identity and future. Micheál touched on a number of issues and I want to address them in terms of the Gaeltacht and the need to assist it in terms of jobs and opportunities. The election of people to represent the Gaeltacht was a step in the wrong direction. It was not something that was positive but, of course, it can be revisited. I agree with my colleague with regard to teaching in schools through Irish and making sure the teachers themselves are proficient. What he has organised is great. With regard to people having to pay to go to learn Irish, every transition year student should go and learn it. There will be an opportunity now, with the change in the transition year teaching methods that will start this September, whereby those ideas and concepts can be embedded, but it comes down to this idea of how it is paid for.

In Clare County Council €35,000 was spent translating the county development plan into Irish as is required by law, which is as it should be. While it would be the right of any citizen to have that document translated into Irish, perhaps that funding should instead be ring-fenced for an initiative to send transition year students from Clare to the Gaeltacht. Senator Ó Céidigh might agree with this as a businessman. If somebody still wanted to have it translated into Irish, so be it. That should happen too. However, a cost-benefit analysis should be done on what would benefit the Irish language the most.

I take the point, which is important and which was well made, on signs and signage being in Irish and on encouraging both State institutions and others - including all our churches whether they be Catholic , Protestant, Muslim or Jewish - to have signage in Irish. Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh also mentioned the Blaskets, which are dear to his heart, to those in Kerry and to those around the world because of their rich cultural and literary history. He also mentioned an Irish club in Leinster House. I know that has been done before and is ongoing. Go mbeirimid beo ag an am seo arís.

Ba bhreá liom i dtosach báire fáilte mhór chroíúil a chur roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Gabhaim míle buíochas leis as a bheith linn. Cuirim fáilte roimh a mhuintir - an treabh mór atá tagtha ó Chiarraí agus, b'fhéidir, ó áiteanna eile le bheith inár measc inniu. Mar a dúirt mé, is onóir mhór é agus is ócáid tábhachtach í freisin.

It is very hard to address the serious points which Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has made without attempting to pay him the tribute he deserves for the important role which he plays and has played in Irish life. Déarfainn go bhfuil trí bhua ar leith aige gur chóir dúinn a bheith buíoch astu. Is é an chéad cheann an chaoi a bhfuil sé ar fáil do dhaoine, is cuma cé hiad. He is to be seen everywhere. He could be speaking at a novena, he could be visiting a school and he is turning up on our televisions. He is a cultural unifier in a way that is very important but at the root of it is his generosity with his time. Is cuimhin liom féin, nuair a bhí mé i mo mhac léinn in DCU ag déanamh máistreachta san iriseoireacht, go raibh mé ag déanamh tionscnaimh bheag faoi stair an Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, faoi ghnéithe den chultúr agus faoi cheisteanna conspóideacha a bhí ann ag an am maidir le cluichí eile a bheith á n-imirt i bPáirc an Chrócaigh nó na bans éagsúla a bhí ann. I remember how Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh did not just give generously of his time but came to meet me and shared his expertise, a shaineolas, ar go leor bealaí. Tá feicthe agam ó shin go ndéanann sé an rud ceannann céanna le gach duine. He is comfortable with the daoine mór le rá inár sochaí, but he is just as comfortable with gnáth-chosmhuintir na hÉireann. That is why he is so appreciated.

Is é an dara rud ná a thuiscint ar an gcultúr. Spreagann sé tírghrá ar leith atá cuimsitheach agus oscailte. He is a cultural unifier and a carrier of an attractive kind of patriotism. Spreagann sé an Ghaeilge gan a bheith ag crá daoine fuithi. Bíonn sé ag moladh daoine agus ag tabhairt spreagadh dóibh teacht leis. It is remarkable how two of the best cultural unifiers in Irish life during my time came from the world of GAA commentary. Mícheál Ó hÉithir, before Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh, was something more than a commentator. He had a special place in many people's hearts. He figured at other important moments outside of sport and Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has done the exact same thing. That is very important at a time when there are things that can divide us and when there is a screechy element in our culture. We have been talking a lot in these Houses about social media - its use, its misuse and how people can attack each other, sometimes very gratuitously. Léiríonn an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh go bhfuil bealach eile le pointí a dhéanamh. He is not someone who has the uncharitable word, a mhalairt atá fíor. He is an encourager and he brings people with him.

Is é an tríú rud ná, é sin ráite, tá rudaí tábhachtacha le rá aige. Níor chaill sé riamh seans an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn. Ní hé an cúpla focal atá i gceist. Bhí go leor daoine ann nach raibh sásta lena gcuid scolaíochta agus leis an gcaoi inar mhúineadh Gaeilge dóibh - b'fhéidir an ghlúin a chuaigh romhainn. Déarfainn go ndearna an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh cúiteamh tábhachtach sa chaoi sin. A lot of people who might have had negative experiences of the Irish language through schooling were encouraged by Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh's attractive presentation of Irish to take an interest agus a bheith báúil don Ghaeilge. Tá sé sin fíorthábhachtach.

Tugann sé inspioráid freisin do dhaoine atá ag dul in aois. Tá sé tábhachtach go bhfuil sé chomh gníomhach ag an staid seo dá shaol. Ní tharlaíonn sé do gach duine go mbeadh siad chomh géar san aigne agus atá an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh. Tá sé tábhachtach freisin. That is also really important. He probably has not heard of a thing called head tingles. Perhaps he has. I do not know if he is an expert on autonomous sensory meridian response, but that is one of the many gifts that he is supposed to have. Somewhere in the happier parts of the Internet, one can find a video of Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh making a ham sandwich in a very entertaining way and talking about it in very sporting terms. Apparently it caused a sensation because people thought this guy was so relaxing to listen to. They said it caused this phenomenon.

That is the lighter side of Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh but níor mhaith liom tógáil, mar a dúirt mé, ó na rudaí tábhachtacha atá le rá aige agus atá le múineadh aige, mar is múinteoir den scoth é. As part of our response around the promotion of the Irish language ba chóir dúinn chuimhniú i gcónaí gurb é an áit le tosú an earnáil phoiblí. Ansin, rachfaidh daoine eile. I understand what people say about compulsory Irish and how it can create the wrong effect but is mór an trua the decline of Irish within the Civil Service and the fact that the rules were changed so that there are now very few people in the Civil Service who can provide people with a basic service through Irish, if that is their wish. Léiríonn sé gur gá le níos mó ná lip service ón Rialtas agus ó na daoine mór le rá sa tír seo maidir leis an nGaeilge. We have to find ways to put Irish at the centre of life. We need to look again at how Irish has declined within the Civil Service and to address that.

Tá áthas orm col ceathrair Mhíchíl, Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, a fheiscint inniu. Is iar-uachtarán mo choláiste féin é - UCG, nó NUI Galway mar a ghlaoitear anois air. Dar ndóigh, fear mór Gaelach le Gaeilge é freisin. Tá áthas orm gur Gaeilgeoir a chomarba is déanaí, Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh. I mention that because, linked with the respect that our public institutions need to show for the Irish language, I was disappointed that my own alma mater, NUI Galway, changed the rules about the selection of presidents of the college so that Irish would no longer be a requirement. Tá áthas orm, I am delighted, that they picked a very fine Gaeilgeoir as well as a very competent person to be Iognáid's latest successor as uachtarán. Dr. Jim Browne also had that capacity.

I say that because ba chóir go mbeadh sé indéanta go mbeadh sé riachtanach go mbeadh Gaeilge ag uachtarán Choláiste na hOllscoile i nGaillimh. If some very talented person from abroad is found, he or she should be given three or four years to get to a certain standard mar tá ionadaíocht i gceist maidir lenár gcuid ollscoileanna. Ní chun airgead a mhealladh isteach ag an tír le haghaidh taighde amháin atá na hollscoileanna. Tá fíor-ról ionadíochta i gceist le huachtaránacht agus le hollscoileanna - go háirithe an ollscoil i nGaillimh. I make that point in passing by way of welcoming Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh's distinguished relative, Iognáid, but also to say that is an example of how the public sector needs to take Irish more seriously.

Leis sin gabhaim buíochas leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh arís as ucht na n-éachtaí uilig atá déanta aige go dtí seo. Gabhaim buíochas leis ach go háirithe as ucht an bhealaigh agus na cuirtéiseachta atá aige agus a theachtaireacht a chur ar aghaidh. Ach gabhaim buíochas níos mó ná sin as tábhacht na teachtaireachta atá aige dúinn inniu.

Gabhaim pardún as a bheith déanach. Bhíos thuas sa Mater. Bhí check-up bliantúil agam.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte is fiche a chur roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh agus é sa Seanad inniu. Tá náire orm, go háirithe mar Chiarraíoch, nach bhfuil ach Gaeilge bhriste agam. Bainim triail as mo chuid Gaeilge chomh minic agus is féidir liom. One of the reasons people like me love Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh is that he understands that not everybody has Gaeilge líofa and he encourages us to use what we can. As a Kerryman, I am ashamed of the Irish I have. Níl an cleachtadh agam. I am not keeping it up. Every now and again, I make my mind up to improve my Irish. When my children were going to school, we used to speak Irish at the table as much as we could. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh has made the Irish language attractive and appealing to people who do not have Irish but would like to have it. Down through the decades, we have had a lot of coercion in relation to the teaching of Irish. Perhaps there was too much pressure on people. Many of my former colleagues in school would say that the manner in which Irish was taught to them meant they did not learn a love of the language. Regrettably, there is a certain validity to that argument.

Is fear cáiliúil agus spóirtúil é Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Go háirithe, is fear na ndaoine é. He is a people's person. I will not labour this point. I was late for this debate because I had an unavoidable medical appointment. I think Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has done more for the Irish language than many professors, scholars and experts. Regardless of whether he is speaking in Irish or in English, he speaks the language of the people. When he is commentating on a game or talking about how to make a ham sandwich, as mentioned by Senator Mullen, he has an appeal and people take to that. I had the privilege of being ar an ardán leis i Lios Tuathail ar Lá Fhéile Pádraig. We shared a platform in Listowel last week. Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh is always willing to come when he is called. Many people are called and do not turn up, but Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh always turns up and it is appreciated. Mícheál O'Hehir was famously the voice of Gaelic football at one time. There is no doubt that Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh is the voice of Gaelic football and a living successor to Mícheál O'Hehir. He is totally unique in his own way. As a Kerryman, I am proud to be able to be here in the Seanad. I am ashamed of my Irish, but I am certainly proud of Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

Ba mhaith liom fosta fáilte mhór a chur roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh agus a chlann go dtí an Teach seo inniu. Labhair mé leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh ag Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta ar an gCeathrú Rua i gContae na Gaillimhe na blianta ó shin. Bhí mé ag imirt ar fhoireann an Tearmainn ó Thír Chonaill ag an am sin. Bhí eolas an-mhaith ag an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh ar na himreoirí go léir ó gach Gaeltacht sa tír. His knowledge of the GAA and of all the players who had assembled in An Cheathrú Rua in Connemara for the all-Ireland Gaeltacht football championships has stayed with me until the present day. At the time, I was playing for a team called Termon from County Donegal. As we spoke on the sideline, I was impressed by Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh's knowledge of the team. He asked about imreoir an-mhaith, Tomás Ó Riain, a bhí againn agus a bhí ag imirt d'fhoireann an chontae ag an am. Thomas Ryan would have been our most famous player at that time, which was 20 or 25 years ago. Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh knew about him and about the minors who played on the team in a small country area like the area I come from thuas i dTír Chonaill. It has stayed with me that he took the time to inform himself about the players from our club who had previously played with Donegal. There is no better ambassador for the Irish language or for Gaelic games than Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. As a sporting person, I often listen to commentators as they try to explain a crucial moment during a football or hurling match. There are some who get it and some who do not. Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has the God-given gift of being able to capture the moment and set the scene when commentating on a hurling match in a way that allows someone travelling in a car to envisage it in his or her mind's eye. As one listens to his commentary, it is as if one is actually looking at what is happening on the pitch. That is a fantastic gift.

What I like about today is that it gives us an opportunity to look back with fond memories on Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh's fantastic talent as a commentator and to hear about his love for the Irish language. People normally have to pass away before we get an opportunity to idolise them. I am glad Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh is alive today and his family is here with him. I am glad we have this opportunity to pay tribute to him by highlighting the respect and love that we, as a nation, have for him. I wish him many more years of good health and happiness. I have no doubt that he will continue to promote Gaelic games and the Irish language. An advertisement for the Allianz football leagues that is running on RTÉ at present sets a unique and iconic scene. It shows Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, after being involved with the GAA for many years, with some children at an under age football match against a backdrop of the wild Atlantic Ocean. It is a fantastic image and one I associate with Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh. I wish him many more years of good health and happiness. I hope we will get an opportunity to enjoy listening to him yet again, regardless of the subject matter he is discussing. I suppose there is an onus on us all le bheith ag caint as Gaeilge. Cosúil le mo chara, an Seanadóir Ned O'Sullivan, bhí níos mó Gaeilge agam nuair a bhí mé óg ná mar atá agam anois. Nuair a d'fhreastail mé ar an scoil náisiúnta thuas i dTír Chonaill, bhí orm an Ghaeilge a labhairt an t-am ar fad. With the passage of time, ní cuimhin liom an chuid is mó den mhéid Gaeilge a bhí agam ag an am sin. Déanaim iarracht an Ghaeilge a labhairt anois is arís. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. It is a pleasure and an honour to be in his presence here this afternoon.

Is é an Seanadóir Terry Leyden an chéad chainteoir eile.

Or even an Seanadóir Traolach Ó Loideáin. Cuirim fáilte roimh Mhícheál Ó Muircheartaigh. Níl móran Gaeilge agam. In 1982, when I was appointed as Minister of State by Charles J. Haughey, I spent many weeks travelling to Dublin to do a Gael Linn course. I was very conscious of the fact that my Irish was not up to standard. I had a driver who spoke fluent Irish, so I used to be briefed before I went into functions so that I could speak as much Gaeilge as possible. Fortunately, my wife Mary, my daughter Orla and my granddaughter speak very good Irish. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh has brought Irish to the fore. Many years ago, RTÉ had a very good Irish-language programme that he might recall. He has done a tremendous amount for the Irish language and for sport. He is basically an icon. I am delighted that he has been given this honour in the Seanad today. As I reflected on what he said, I wondered why, after all these years, Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has not been made a Senator. He would be a fantastic ambassador here. I am sure Senator Ó Céidigh will decide to give up his seat. Maybe Deputy Micheál Martin will appoint Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh as well. No greater love can one give.

Senator Leyden has been around for a long time so he might make way.

Éirigh as an suíochán.

Even though I was taught Irish by a lovely brother, Brother Paul O'Dwyer from Tipperary, who had lovely Irish, I must say that when I was in school there was far too much emphasis on the past, present and future tenses instead of the spoken language. Perhaps the Government or some Minister will research the teaching of the Irish language to make people love speaking it. That would be a great thing for Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh personally. All the young women who came out of the Convent of Mercy schools in Roscommon spoke very good Irish, but very few of the lads who left the CBS spoke good Irish. We were taught Irish for an hour nearly every day of the week, but we were not spoken to about things like the weather. My appeal is for people to be taught ordinary phrases like "tá an aimsir go maith", "tá sé ag cur sneachta" and "tá mé ag dul abhaile" so that they can speak the language. I was not going to contribute to this debate because I am conscious of the factors I have mentioned. Senator Ned O'Sullivan has excellent Irish. I must say that Senator Mullen has lovely Irish. If we are to achieve something today, I would like it to be a renewed focus on spoken language in schools to make people love the language and get speaking it as well as they can.

There should not be this kind of elitism. Senator O'Sullivan made the point that some people who are too fanatical about the language are elitist about it, but Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh embodies the real Irish language and the love of it. The fact that he is bilingual and so fluent in both languages is brilliant. I am just delighted to be here today. It is a great honour for the Seanad that Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh addressed us here today. I wish him continued success. He is a national figure and long may that continue.

Mar chríoch, táim an-bhródúil a bheith in ann fáilte mhór go dtí an Seanad a chur roimh duine eile ón ríocht. Is mór an onóir dúinn go bhfuil an tUasal Ó Muircheartaigh anseo chun cabhrú linn Bliain na Gaeilge a chéiliúradh. I agree with everything that has been said by all of my colleagues. It is well deserved. Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh has been a great ambassador for our language and his broadcasting has been truly wonderful down through the years. Ar son Sheanad Éireann, mar Leas-Chathaoirleach, gabhaim buíochas dó as a bheith anseo inniu agus as an aitheasc spéisiúil ar thug sé dúinn. He has done us proud. Gabhaim buíochas leis. Ar mhaith leis freagra a thabhairt don Teach? He might like a very brief focal scoir.

Mr. Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh

Bhí sé an-suimiúil a bheith ag éisteacht leis na Seanadóirí. Tuigim ó bheith ag éisteacht leo go bhfuil sé in aigne acu anois rud éigin gníomhach a dhéanamh i leith na Gaeilge agus i leith gnéithe eile de chultúr na hÉireann i rith na bliana atá romhainn. Is maith an rud, ar shlí, gur Bliain na Gaeilge í in áit Sheachtain na Gaeilge. D'fhéadfaí rud a chur ar siúl ar feadh bliana ach ní fhéadfaí mórán a dhéanamh i seachtain ach an spiorad a chothú.

Bhí rudaí suimiúla le rá. Labhródh faoi éigeantas, compulsion. Bhí sé sin ann ó, b'fhéidir, na 1940í agus na 1950í. Níl sé ann a thuilleadh. Nuair a théitear isteach anois go dtí na bunscoileanna, if one goes into primary schools now, the múinteoir is not Ms or Mrs. so-an-so agus ní hé an fear an tUasal, he or she is Múinteoir Máire nó Múinteoir ainm éigin eile. The students just take the teacher's name as if he or she was one of themselves. It is a group thing. Mar a dúirt peileadóir ó Chiarraí, Mick O'Connell, liom uair amháin, nuair a chuir duine ceist air cé a bhí ar a mharcáil, nó who was marking him, on a given day, dúirt sé nach raibh éinne riamh ar a mharcáil ach go raibh sé ag imirt leo. He said that he did not play against the others, he played with them. Tá an rud sin sna scoileanna anois. Tá na daltaí agus na múinteoirí le chéile. It is not that one has all the power. Tá an éigeantas imithe and that is a great thing for Irish. People who learned Irish in school in the last 20 or 30 years have a different experience completely. The compulsion was there in a time when everything was certain agus gach rud. It did a lot of damage. It turned people who did not have the ability to learn Irish quickly against it. That was a pity. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil sé sin thart.

Luaigh mé ré nua. We are into new times now and there is an opportunity. It is okay to talk about things and to have strategies and everything, but one must be able to say five years later that strategy worked. Caithfear gníomh a dhéanamh. That is what I like about all the people connected with that Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language. Not alone did they point needs out but they actually went to do different things where they saw such needs and brought other people in. From what I heard here from the Seanadóirí I am very hopeful that they will do their part. Tá a lán daoine anseo a bhfuil Gaeilge acu. If they can have any influence on it and if the people are available I would love it if, when elections come around, as well as having debates in RTÉ and other stations, there were also some as Gaeilge ar TG4 - Teilifís na Gaeilge nuair a bunaíodh é.

Ba é ár nUachtarán, Michael D. Higgins, who launched Teilifís na Gaeilge, as it was called, way back in 1996. Is cuimhin liom go maith an oíche sin agus ba chóir creidiúint a thabhairt dó. Dúirt sé go raibh sé an tAire - that he was the Minister - but he also said that only for the people that went before him who got the legislation through and made the money available, ní bheadh sé ansin agus ní bheadh Teilifís na Gaeilge ann. Dúirt sé go gcaithfear féachaint amach ar an rud go léir. Cuireann rudaí mar sin áthas orm mar ní maith liom rudaí caolaigeantach. Cosúil leis na scoileanna, if the Irish club develops bheadh na Teachtaí Dála, the Senators and others meeting more often and, unknown to themselves, in a while they will be speaking as Gaeilge when the opportunity is there. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis na Seanadóirí.

There was a move a few years ago to get rid of Seanad Éireann. I do not know what the purpose of that was. It would be a sad day. Going way back to an old Irish poem: ná tabhair do bhreith ar an gcéad scéal go mbeiridh an taobh eile ort - do not pass judgment on a story you hear until you hear the other story. You are in a better place then. A system that allows for two levels, two views, is a better way to form positive opinions. Is dóigh liom go bhfuil mo dhóthain ráite agam. Táim dóchasach that the future is good. On some aspects like the music and the dance, people are dancing Irish dances all over the world - Australia, America, and so on. With the new opening up of China there will be Chinese people coming here to the Oireachtas in a few years' time. Beidh siad ann. Gabhaim míle buíochas leis na Seanadóirí. Tá áthas orm go bhfuair mé cuireadh agus go raibh fáilte romham ar son na Gaeilge.

A standing ovation such as that is very rare in the Chamber.

Gabhaim míle buíochas leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh. Leis na himeachtaí a thabhairt chun críocha, glaoim ar an gCeannaire, an Seanadóir Jerry Buttimer.

Nílimid críochnaithe fós. Is cúis mhór bróid orm fíor-fháilte a chur roimh an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh agus a chlann ar an ócáid speisialta seo. Lá iontach ab ea é. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Seanadóir Ó Céidigh as ucht an rún a chur faoi bhráid an Choiste um Nós Imeachta agus Pribhléidí. Bhí tacaíocht mhór ó gach duine sa Seomra seo.

Tá muintir na hÉireann faoi dhraíocht Mhíchíl Ó Mhuircheartaigh le blianta fada. Anuas ar thráchtaireacht a dhéanamh ar chúrsaí Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, bhíodh sé in ann an Ghaeilge agus an Béarla a mhúineadh fiú agus é ag tabhairt ár ndúshlán dúinn. Agus sinn ag éisteacht leis, bhí an suim, an dúthracht agus na sceitimíní orainn chomh tréan riamh agus a bhí sé anall thar na blianta. Is fíor a rá go bhfacamar an suim agus an dúthrácht céanna ann agus é ag gníomhú mar chathaoirleach ar Bhord na Gaeilge. Mar chraoltóir, thug sé grá don Ghaeilge dúinn, uaireanta le corrfhocal, uaireanta le frása agus uaireanta eile le habairtí iomláine. Cuireadh múscáilt suime agus bá dár dteanga dúchais orainn. Tréasláim leis an saibhreacht theanga a spreagann an chuid eile a bhíonn ag gníomhú i dteannta a chéile chun cloí le labhairt na Gaeilge.

Táimid ag plé cúrsaí Gaeilge agus táimid i measc bliain na Gaeilge. Mar a dúirt an Taoiseach ar ocáid an Rialtais a phlé, is é aidhm an Rialtas ar feadh bliain na Gaeilge, an Ghaeilge a chéiliúradh agus an gnáthduine a spreagadh páirt a ghlacadh ann. Sin í aidhm an Rialtais agus mar a dúirt gach duine inniu ba chóir dúinn an Ghaeilge a úsáid i dTeach Laighean, i gCorcaigh nó gach áit. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh for a long time. We had the distinction of working in RTÉ; I was a lowly RTÉ radio Cork sports commentator, Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh was a man we all admired and loved. I had the pleasure of working alongside his daughter and his son who travelled the country with him, ag scríobh na notes agus gach rud mar gheall ar an gcluiche. Their love, their interest and their comhrá epitomised what this man stands for. It is not the grand plan, it is not the overarching vision. It is an Ghaeilge a úsáid gach lá, mar a dúirt gach duine, an advertisement ar RTÉ for the ham sandwich. Fear an-speisialta is ea é, a man who deserves to be here today. Not because of what he did in making our Gaelic games attractive, inviting him into our homes, but for the way he made the Irish language accessible. In my humble opinion, we speak about great people like Pádraig Pearse but to me, i ré nua, we have a patriot in front of us today. This is a man who took his love of the Irish language from west Kerry and brought it to the four corners of our country. Senator O'Mahony spoke about the exhilaration of being in a dressing room on Munster final day in Thurles or Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I had the pleasure of being there too. For every player, official, steward, maor, bhí focal leis an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh aige nó aici. He spoke to everybody. It was not the Pope, it was not the prince, it was the ordinary person that was treated the same way. It is the measure of a man that he treats everybody fairly.

In his use of the Irish language and the way in which he has challenged us, he is an inspiration to a new generation. Mar a dúirt an Seanadóir O'Sullivan, níl an Ghaeilge go líofa agam, ach d'úsáid mé é. Rinneamar cleachtadh, téann muid go dtí an coffee dock le ranganna Gaeilge agus údáideann muid í timpeall an Tí seo. For as long as the name Míchaél Ó Muircheartaigh is spoken about, the Irish language will always be remembered and will always be used. For as long as we remember Mr. Ó Muircheartaigh and as an Seanadóir Reilly said, the phrases he used in his match commentary, then our Gaelic games will be safe and secure. We stand here today Cathaoirleach, to pay tribute and say thank you, in a very humble but very symbolic gesture by us as Baill Sheanad Éireann. Bhí ceist againn ar an ráiteas, cad é Éire nua? What is the new Ireland? What do we stand for? "Reeling in the Years" was on on St. Patrick's night and Riverdance was being played. Tá an ceart ag an Uasal Ó Muircheartaigh; Irish music, Irish song is being celebrated around the world. We paid tribute today to Liam Ó Floinn on the Order of Business. Tá spiorad an Uasal Uí Mhuircheartaigh láidir. Fear íontach is ea é, lán de chreideamh, míle buíochas dó as ucht a mhéid oibre ar son na gnáthdaoine, ar son Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, ar son chumann polaitiúil agus go mórmhór ar son chúrsaí Gaeilge. Mar Cheannaire an Tí, gabhaim mo buíochas leis. Maith thú.

Sin deireadh na n-imeachtaí. Go raibh míle maith agat arís a Uasail Uí Mhuircheartaigh as a bheith anseo linn inniu. An féidir leis an gCeannaire moladh go gcuirfí an suí ar fionraí go dtí 3.15 p.m.? An bhfuil sé sin aontaithe? Tá an suí ar fionraí go dtí 3.15 p.m.

Sitting suspended at 2.45 p.m. and resumed at 3.15 p.m.