Wednesday 12 September 2007
Irish Books II: Leabhair Ghaeilge II
In the previous post I lashed B na LG for failing to stop the disappearance of Irish language books from the shelves. I certainly hope I didn't give the impression that B na LG were solely to blame, for they aren't. There is another body involved: ÁIS. I should have known. How could one body suffice to oversee the wellbeing of the vast publishing realm of Irish language books! Surely, besides schoolbooks and government publications, there must be at least dozens of books passing through their capable hands.
So ÁIS apparently are responsible for distribution. They see to it that shops are aware which books are being published and that they are delivered copies when required. Here's how they do it. They have a team of reps who scour the country, targetting mid to large bookshops with attractive promos and samples. Trouble is - the team is rather small. They have one person. ONE PERSON. For the entire country. ÁIS went to the same school of economics as the Irish offshore Customs who have a single craft to patrol the entire coastline. So I've heard that the ÁIS man or woman gets to visit say Donegal about every 6 months. Lamentable. Now I have no idea what size ÁIS is as an organization in total, probably quite small, but I'm certain they have a board, a manager and so on. They must wreck their heads trying to figure out a route for our friend, the rep, who has to cover all of Ireland with this leabhair Ghaeilge. It is no surprise then when we hear that on those odd occasions when a book shop orders a leabhar, they can wait for weeks and weeks for delivery.
I wondered how could ÁIS be so ill equiped for the job, and yet so happily silent: SSssssh. For faic sake, don't let éinne know that our jobs are based on supporting a single rep. They'd cut the deontas! Dún do bhéal.
Then I learned that Áis had been taken over by Farce na Gaeilge, I mean Foras na Gaeilge - that infamous sícín gan cheann, that neurotic, catch-all body - back in 1999. If you follow Tuaráscáil in the Irish Times, Pól Ó Múirí will have bashed your ears about this body. The shambles it is. How it is aimless, incompetent, and divisive. On a discussion on the state of Irish Language publishing on R na G this week, the Farce, could not provide a spokesperson. Not for the first time, when questions are asked, the old Farce is as láthair.
But there you have it. Irish language books are like icebergs in the Sahara, melting away in the sun, their waters seeping off irreversibly into the sands of time. But no fear - we have an áis-hole on the job. And a Bord na gCnoc Oighir who will shortly run another 'Feachtas'. You see, if you run enough feachtais (campaigns) surely the punishing rays will relent and our iceberg will safely refreeze.