Presbyterians and the Irish Language

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Presbyterians and the Irish Language by Roger Blaney, originally published in 1996, is the first to establish the rightful place of the Irish language in the Presbyterian heritage in Ireland. It traces the Presbyterian Irish-speaking tradition from its early roots in Gaelic Scotland through the Plantation and Williamite War periods to its successive revivals in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

There are biographies of influential Irish-speaking Presbyterians, clerical and lay, whose love of the language helped to ensure its survival. The author contends that the origins of the Gaelic League are as likely to be found in Presbyterian Belfast as in Catholic Dublin. At a time when the Irish language was losing ground to a combination of forces, it was Presbyterians who were to the fore in saving valuable manuscripts, in teaching through the language and in publishing works in Irish.

The result is an absorbing account of an integral, important but little-known strand in the fabric of Irish Presbyterianism. It adds significantly to the mutual understanding between the main traditions on our island and provides evidence for the view that we share more than divides us.

Roger Blaney qualified in medicine from Queen's University, Belfast in 1957. After a number of appointments, he specialised in public health medicine becoming head of the Department of Community Medicine at Queen's. In addition to Presbyterians and the Irish Language,  he has written on the history of the Irish language and has  contributed to An tUltach and the newspaper LA.

Roger Blaney

Roger Blaney son of Mary Ellen and William Patrick Blaney of Lurgan, Co. Armagh, was educated in Lurgan, Armagh and Queen'€™s University Belfast where he qualified in medicine in 1957. After a number of hospital appointments, including three years in Guy'€™s Hospital, London, he specialised in public health medicine and was head of the Department of Community Medicine at Queen'€™s University before he took early retirement in 1988.

His publications include papers in the medical press, co-authorship of books on public health and he is author of Belfast: 100 years of Public Health (1988). He has written on the history of the Irish Language and has contributed to An tUltach and the newspaper LÁ. He is married to Brenda Quinn, has two sons and three daughters and lives in Holywood, Co. Down.

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