Speak Irish

When Haines's "loud voice" bids the milkwoman be silent, her "wondering unsteady eyes" gaze on him as he declaims phrases in some unfamiliar language. She asks, "Is it French you are talking, sir?" No, it is the language of her own people: "Irish," also known as "Gaelic." It is, of course, ironic that the woman who has been symbolically identified with Ireland should have no understanding of its native speech, and even more ironic that the Englishman Haines should have come to Dublin to proclaim that "we ought to speak Irish in Ireland." The Irish language was approaching extinction at this time, preserved only in certain remote western regions known collectively as the Gaeltacht. When the old woman learns that Haines is speaking Irish she asks, "Are you from the west, sir?

John Hunt 2011

The Gaeltacht in 1926. Source: en.wikipedia.org.

Official Gaeltacht regions in 2007. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Penguin paperback edition of Finnegans Wake.