Ireland’s ranking as “best country for business” last week by Forbes, the renowned US financial magazine, may be down to a decision by Irish bishops in 1836, according to an historian.
Ambassador Edward Brynn, former American ambassador to six African
nations and a specialist in Irish history, told a conference last week
that the Church’s insistence on education through the English language
before the Famine, directly led to the modern explosion in hi-tech
investment in Ireland.
“In 1836, the British parliament, exasperated and overwhelmed by
times of trouble in Ireland, passed legislation that placed in the hands
of the religious leaders in Ireland full control of education,” he
said, and they “mandated that all education of Irish Catholic children
would take place in English.”
Mr Brynn said the bishops could not have foreseen the results of
their decision, but in effect they prepared Ireland for a globalised
hi-tech world, where English is the dominant language, and that is why
Ireland has become the location of choice for companies like Facebook,
Google, Twitter, eBay and Linkedin.