Survival of Celtic languages

In Scotland, the Highland and Lowland division meant that until recently, only the Highlanders were considered Celtic (or Gaelic), and in

Below: Drivers entering Wales across the border with England will immediately notice that the Welsh language takes precedence on the roadsigns.

Irish still retain their opposition to Gaelic, and treasure their political adherence to Britain. Since the independence from Britain of Eire (Republic of Ireland), Irish Gaelic has been recognized as the official national language, while English is the official tongue in Ulster (Northern Ireland).

For the Welsh, the revived interest in the Welsh language that came with the advent of institutions like the Eisteddfod (see page 183) developed rapidly after 1945, and today Welsh is a compulsory subject in schools, while all remote corners of the Highlands and Islands, Gaelic was spoken in addition to Scots-English. Although writers such as Rolx-rt Burns helped establish recognition for the Scottish tongue as a culturally distinct dialect, it is nevertheless an Anglicized language. Scottish Gaelic is the direct ancestor of the Scottish accent, but it remains a foreign language to the vast majority of Scots.

Irish Gaelic was always spoken in Ireland, but English became the dominant language, its use encouraged by political administrations and the Church. The Gaelic tongue continued to bespoken in rural Ireland, however, and formed a focal point for the Irish independence movement from the 19th century onward. The exception was Ulster (Northern Ireland), which was essentially a Protestant Scots colonv. These Scots-

government forms, road signs, and even television channels and some publications are bilingual.

The smaller regions of the Celtic fringe maintain independence movements. In Brittany the Union Democratic Brctonne has campaigned for self-determination with partial success, although the region's linguistic assimilation is as complete as Scotland's. Any future political union of the Celtic Fringe is extremely unlikely. Nevertheless, their shared cultural consciousness is a tangible force.

Above: The annual Eistedfodd at Llangollen attracts music lovers from around the world to celebrate this most Celtic of festivals.


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