Language, Resistance and Revival

Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland.

“I wanted to tell the story of how and why the prisoners did what they did and to show how people and communities, when organised and committed, can achieve great things. Importantly, from an historical point of view, it was about shining a light on an aspect of our history that has spent too long in the darkness.”


About Feargal

Feargal is a former pupil of Bunscoil Phobal Feirste and Meanscoil Feirste here in West Belfast. He attended Queens University Belfast and completed his PhD thesis in 2009 on Republican prisoners and the Irish language revival in the North of Ireland which he is currently preparing for publication as a book.  He is also a founder-member of Irish-speaking Gaeltacht quarter football club, Laochra Loch Lao CLG and is active in the Irish language revival in the city. He is chairperson of Glór na Móna and works full-time as Project Worker with Gaeltacht Quarter Irish Language development Agency, Forbairt Feirste.

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Explore Feargal's Book


groundbreaking linguistic and educational

Language, Resistance and Revival tells the untold story of the truly groundbreaking linguistic and educational developments that took place among Republican prisoners in Long Kesh prison from 1972-2000.


period of bitter struggle

During a period of bitter struggle between Republican prisoners and the British state, the Irish language was taught and spoken as a form of resistance during incarceration. The book unearths this story for the first time and analyses the rejuvenating impact it had on the cultural revival in the nationalist community beyond the prison walls.


unprecedented interviews

Based on unprecedented interviews, Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh explores a key period in Irish history through the original and ‘insider’ accounts of key protagonists in the contemporary Irish language revival.

Language, Resistance and Revival


Dr Ruan O’Donnell

Lecturer in History at University of Limerick and author of Special Category: The IRA in English Prisons.

Dr Fionntán De Brún

Head of Irish language and Literature, University of Ulster.

Dr Féilim Ó hAdhmaill

Republican ex-prisoner and Lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy in University College Cork.


This fascinating and most original study is to be warmly welcomed. We have here a work which should appeal to a wide readership both among the general population and among students of a variety of academic disciplines, including Irish, sociology, sociolinguistics, modern history, education, law, and conflict and peace studies.
(Dr Nollaig Ó Muraíle, Senior Lecturer in Irish, National University of Ireland, )
‘This is an original and thought-provoking work, in which the combination of an author engagé and a rich body of primary evidence has produced a study that challenges many conventional features of ethnographic research’
Prof Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Historian and former Emeritus Professor of History in National University of Ireland, Galway and Member of Council of State for President of Ireland,
Michael D O’Higgins
Fascinating study of the Irish language and its core place in the politics that have emerged from the prisons and protests of recent history.  This is a strong and valuable contribution to our understanding of language and politics in contemporary Ireland.
Cathal Goan, Founder and former Director of Irish Language Television channel, Teilifís na Gaeilge, later Tg4 and former Director-General of
RTE (Raidió Telilfís Éireann)

Author Appearances

Meet Feargal

EventLanguage, Resistance and Revival: From Prison to CommunitySaturday 19th October 2013Queens University, Belfast
Language, Resistance and Revival: From Prison to CommunityThursday 17th October 2013The Bluecoat, School Lane
Book luanch/seoladh leabhairFri 31 Bealtaine/ May, 7pmGrand Hotel, Tralee, Co Kerry
Book Luanch/Seoladh LeabhairWed 26 June/Meitheamh 7.30pmClub an Chonradh, 6 Sráid Fhearchair, Báile Átha Cliath/Dublin
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival'
Mon, 22 Aibreán/ April, 12pmEmerald Isle Immgration, the Bronx, NY
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival'
Thu18 April/Aibrean 2013, 7.30pm Coláiste Feirste, Béal Feirste
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival
Tue, 23 April/ Aibrean 2013, 8pm Rocky Sullivans bar, Brooklyn, New York
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival
Wed, 24 April/ Aibrean 2013, 7.30pmWilliam Barnacle's Tavern, 80 Saint Marks, New York 10003
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival
Mon, 29 April/ Aibreán 2013, 5pm Food for thought Bookstore
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival
Thu, 25 April/ Aibreán 2013, 6.30pmEmerson College, Boston
Book launch/ seoladh leabhair
'Langauge, Resistance and Revival
Thu, 9 Bealtaine/ MayMarketplace Theatre, Armagh City
Book Launch/Seoladh LeabhairFri 28 June/Meitheamh, 7.30pm Gaelphobal Centre, Melvin Street, Strabane
Book Launch/Seoladh leabhairWed 19 Meitheamh/ June, 7.30pmTí Chulainn Cultural centre, South Armagh