ROSSA Ó SNODAIGH KÍLA
AGUS ANOIS AN AIMSIR... (AND NOW THE WEATHER)
Gaeilge is the language of our soul, and art and music the weather forecast of our soul.
I feel we have been disconnected from our soul. Imagine that Irish broadcasters would only forecast the English and American weather, and worse, saw nothing odd about this. The disconnection would be enormous. The Irish broadcasters have been doing much the same by not playing songs in our soul language.
English songs from Éire
English language music from Éire has been knocking on the doors of the mainstream media for generations, in the hope that those in charge of the airwaves would proudly broadcast their music.
Back in the '90s, the French government were supported by the EU in enacting Tourban's law, which brought in a 40% French music quota to protect the French language. Taking their example, the then IRTC (Independent Radio and Television Commission) were able to convince the EU that music in Ireland was a language that was in need of protection, and thus the EU and the Irish government approved a 30% Irish music quota.
But when the BAI superceded the
IRTC, they dropped the quota system, and instead monitored the quotas the stations themselves agreed in their licence submissions. This could be as low as 5-10%, and despite each station having to agree an Irish language policy, a secret broadcast policy of 'English lyrics only' has prevailed. A quota for Irish language songs is now the only way this situation will change.
Are there enough songs as Gaeilge?
I’ve been running An Puball Gaeilge, the Irish language performance tent at the Electric Picnic, for 11 years; there were 35 bands on this year alone. On another stage called Hazelwoods, Conradh na Gaeilge – who’ve just released their umpteenth Irish song CD, Ceol 2018 – presented 15 acts. The combined 50 bands performed everything including rock, pop, barbershop, trad, rap and hip hop.
Most performers were fluent, but for those who weren’t, this was the first time they were applauded for using their cúpla focal. They sang in the language of their soul, to an amazed audience who were like people who had heard the actual Irish weather forecast for the first time.
It reconnected the audience to something that had been absent since birth; it raised their spirits, gave them pride, and made them feel like the sun was suddenly rising.
The people of this country deserve to have their spirits raised by songs