- Taschenbuch: 216 Seiten
- Verlag: Lonely Planet Publications; Auflage: 1st ed. (März 2002)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1740590384
- ISBN-13: 978-1740590389
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,7 x 1,3 x 19,7 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 4.328.104 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Lonely Planet Home With Alice: A Journey in Gaelic Ireland: Travels in Gaelic Ireland (Lonely Planet Travel Literature) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – März 2002
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When a personal crisis looms, the author returns to Ireland in search of answers. His quest for answers takes him to the Gaeltacht, the heart of Irish-speaking Ireland, where he has to cope with the spirit of his (dead) Aunt Alice.
Derzeit tritt ein Problem beim Filtern der Rezensionen auf. Bitte versuchen Sie es später noch einmal.
Who drank Guiness' beer by the gallon,
While learning the Gaelic,
From Paddy each day, Mick,
In Dysent, Roscommon and Teilann ;-)
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The direct prose reflects Fallon's profession, the writing and editing of many travel guides (thanks, Steve, for the Lonely Planet Hungary, which I found typically concise and cogent), and does not have a lot of dazzle. This may detract from some of the book where I thought that more descriptive scene-setting would have aided those who had never seen what I and Fallon may have, but it does make for a brisk narrative. He does obscure exactly what's at the bottom of his quest in terms of his own psyche, but (as Maureen Dezell's "Irish America" book--also reviewed by me on Amazon--shows), this is a typical and ineradicable foible of all Irish. The conclusion, with his triumphant speech in Irish to a gaggle of dumbfounded Bretons, makes for a wonderful summation of the success of his mission to gain Irish fluency.
What works clumsily is the sub-plot involving the ghost of his aunt, the titular Alice, who accompanies him on his travels. I am not doubting that her spirit might transmogrify, this being an Irish tale, but this conceit was not very entertaining or enlightening to me as a reader. I felt as if I was a parent intruding on a child's conversations with an "invisible friend."
Confusingly, after a lull in the morale of he and his learners mid-way through the course, he suddenly absconds temporarily in a rapid jaunt around much of the remaining Irish-speaking Gaeltachtai. How did he leave, drive around Ireland, and return for the course? Such logistics, as with the exact time and schedule of his summer program, are left vague.
This exploration of Gaeltachtai is an excellent idea for a book, but needed to either be made more seriously and extensively, or made into another book entirely. It's shoehorned into this personal tale, and does not quite fit neatly enough. Places that Fallon should have investigated like Muscraigh, Tory Island, Rath Cairn, Belmullet, and especially the West Belfast Irish-speaking community: these important centers where Irish is either ebbing or cresting are all bypassed or rushed past, one senses for lack of time.
This detracts from the otherwise thoughtful interviews with experts and encounters with native speakers with whom he tries to "leave behind" as well as "take away" Irish as an active language. He finds his efforts often belittled, reflecting too the disdain many Irish have, English and Irish-speakers, for those trying to pick up the "native" language as outsiders. His honest attempts reminded me of Pamela Petro's "Travels in an Old Tongue: Touring the World Speaking Welsh" (see my review) as another American learner of the baby boomer generation eager and scared to converse through a Celtic language with its natives. The collusion of the native speakers against the incomers reveals a crucial difficulty discouraging many well-intentioned learners as well as making native speakers feel the brunt of endlessly rudimentary verbal exchanges with strangers.
Unlike Welsh, however, Irish because of and not despite its state-sponsorship remains threatened. Fallon seeks to learn its Connemara dialect, but who can he talk to? And will they respond in Irish, in a place where all speak English anyway? The problem seems only growing worse in the Gaeltachtai, even as adults learn it. Most who claim to speak Irish daily are, of course, students between 10-14, as Fallon reminds us in an intelligent if dispiriting analysis of census figures. He quotes the Donegal activist Liam O Cuinneagain, who wonders if Irish will survive as a community-based or only as a network-connected language. Certainly a vexed question for many concerned with the present and future of Irish as more than, say Klingon, Elvish, or Esperanto. Will Irish come to be used only in a course by teens or a hobby for adult learners? I further pondered its unstable prognosis after reading Fallon's encounters with those Irish men and women charged with diagnosing and boosting Irish today.
Fallon offers much that transcends the easy sentiment of emigres or the inherited disdain of many who have been force-fed Irish over the past century, and I only wish this had been made more prominently the focus rather than its few pages here.
Also, Fallon's reminiscences of growing up in Irish America in a Boston suburb in the 50s and 60s, while informative in showing Fallon's initial attraction to the remnants he heard of what he and his family believed already a "dead" language, do not show much that is distinctive. This effort, I realize, is to delineate how Fallon later felt such a need, as if from "racial memory," to return to study Irish and recover a severed link with his past and present identity. But much of the book is taken up with this and the addition of a potted history of the Celts and how Irish came about and went away, that is all known to anyone already literate in Irish or Irish American culture, and is only needed for the complete newcomer to such subjects, and I doubt that such a reader would start with this book. But, you never know, and if this does inspire such a quest, more power to the author and you the reader.
This book does deserve a wider audience among Irish wherever they live and all curious about the "first official language"; I only stumbled across it via an Amazon subject search, and I wish it gains more attention. I might add that some of the proposals for greater state recognition and services for Irish-speakers beyond lip service have been implemented two years after the 2001 date of Fallon's book. Whether these will help remains to be seen.
For more on these matters, see these newer titles, appearing after Fallon's book. These are all reviewed as well by me on Amazon: dense and scholarly: "The Irish Language in Ireland," Diarmuit MacGiollaChroist; short bilingual monograph: James McCloskey "Voices Silenced?"; essays by its speakers: Ciaran MacMurchaidh "Who Needs Irish?"; one man's depressing journey across the Celtic fringe: Marcus Tanner "The Last of the Celts." Another bilingual monograph, not listed on Amazon but available from the Dublin publisher Cois Life: Michael Cronin, "Irish in the New Century."
My main criticism is relatively minor. I would have liked to have a short chapter or appendix on the Irish language itself. Although he peppers his account with his attempts at Gaelic, there is no guide to pronounciation or general structure of the language. I'm not looking for a "Learn Irish in 20 lessons", but just a brief description to understand why it's so hard, etc.
The other criticism has to do with the periodic imaginary conversations with his aunt (Alice). They pop up now and then, and seem rather pointless. I don't think that's a bad idea, but he could have used it more strongly to explain differences between Irish-America, old and modern Ireland. Again, a minor quibble.
Overall, the subject matter is quite interesting, and Fallon writes well. If you're interested in Ireland and not just green beer and "erin go bragh" , it's highly recommended.