Queen Elizabeth I probably conversed in Gaelic with Grace O'Malley
I apologise if I appear pedantic, in bringing a correction to Sandra Chapman's most interesting article ('˜Could Irish language issue be solved with a look at history', July 1).
Ms Chapman implies that Grace O’Malley and Queen Elizabeth 1 parleyed, perforce, through the medium of Latin.
While it is, perhaps, a possibility that both ladies understood Latin (which was the Lingua Franca of the educated in Europe at the time), it is more likely that they would have conversed in Gaelic.
Queen Elizabeth 1 was an accomplished and remarkable linguist and, among her many languages, she was fluent in Gaelic. (I don’t know if Grace O’Malley spoke English). I understand that the beautiful Gaelic script adopted and used (until quite recently) since the time of Elizabeth 1 was due to the Virgin Queen’s interest in the Irish language.
Incidentally, Elizabeth 1 commissioned an Irish language grammar for her own use.
(I should point out that Latin was an important early British language; it was introduced following the Roman Empire’s conquest of Britain. The later Latin offshoot, French, was also widely disseminated in Britain following the Norman conquest).
It is a bit rich of Ms Chapman to chide Grace O’Malley for practicing piracy.
The English of that period needed no lessons from Grace O’Malley, or anyone else for that matter, in the dark art of piracy; for instance, I understand, one of the Virgin Queen’s favourites, Sir Walter Raleigh, was executed for piracy.
Micheal O’Cathail, Fermanagh