The following course of simple lessons in Irish has been drawn up chiefly for the use of those who wish to learn the old language of Ireland, but who are discouraged by what they have heard of its difficulties. A language whose written literature extends back for over a thousand years, and which has been spoken in Ireland for we know not how many centuries, must naturally differ in many ways from the modern language now generally studied. But the difficulties of Irish pronunciation and construction have always been exaggerated.
As I myself was obliged to study Irish as a foreign language, and as I have been placed in circumstances which have made me rather familiar with the language as now spoken, I have at least a knowledge of the difficulties of those who, like myself, have no teacher. I have tried to explain everything as simply as possible and I have the satisfaction of knowing that these lessons during their appearance in the Weekly Freeman, and afterwards in the Gaelic Journal, have made some thousands of Irish people acquainted with what is really our National Language.
I am convinced that a person who speaks Irish, can learn to read and write the exercises of their lessons in a month; and I believe that one totally unacquainted with the language can master the pronunciation of every word in the lessons (Parts I and II) in six months.
The following plan of working out the exercises of the Lessons appears to be the best.
To those who, in many ways, have assisted in the construction of these lessons, I offer my hearty thanks. The Archbishop of Dublin first suggested the bringing out of a series of lessons, in which the pronunciation of each word should be indicated in accordance with some simple phonetic system, and His Grace afterwards took a large share in developing and applying that system. I am also indebted to Mr. C. P. Bushe, Mr. John M'Neill, Mr. J. H. Lloyd, Father Hickey, Mr. MacC-Dix, and many others, for valuable suggestions.
In the meantime, I shall be grateful for any suggestions in connection with those lessons, an I shall publish in the Gaelic Journal, whatever corrections or improvements may be suggested.
I may add that it is to the generosity of Mr. J. J. Murphy, of Cork, that the publication of this first part of the lessons at such a low price is due.
9th June, 1894
as in English