Pre-Famine bishops sparked hi-tech revolution

Bishops decision to educate through English language had far reaching results

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.