I was in Ireland in 2007 when Bertie Ahern (the Taoiseach -- PM-- of Ireland) gave a speech to the UK Houses of Parliament, one of the most complex rhetorical situations ever, perhaps (800 years of oppression, continuing economic interdependence, revolution, hatred, all that).
Anyway, I was driving and listening to this speech, and I very clearly recall an absolutely terrific line, where Ahern was trying to honor Irish history but also move on into the future by acknowledging the two countries' commonality, and here's what I remember:
"And we must never forget the greatest forced marriage in history: between the English language and the Irish people."
(That is, English was forced upon the Irish, but they made it sing-- Wilde and Swift and Yeats and all those guys.)
Well, you know, I've quoted that line, and attributed it to old Bertie, and recently went looking for the exact quote and the date, and guess what? Here's what he actually said:
"One of the most creative moments in human history was the meeting between the English language and the Irish people."
Huh. Hey, what I remembered was a better line! It sounds like Wilde or Shaw. So, anyway, I'm going to claim it (unless anyone can find another source). :)
So here's what I say:
The greatest forced marriage in history was between the English language and the Irish people.