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A Fun-Filled Seachtain na Gaeilge at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin

March 24, 2014

We had a fantastic Seachtain na Gaeilge here in the Cultúrlann for the whole community both young and old and for both learners and Irish Speakers alike. We kicked off our event on World Book day with the fantastic “Little Festival of Books.” This is the 2nd year we have organised this festival in association with Derry City Council. Children from the city’s 3 Gaelscoileanna came to the Cultúrlann to celebrate books. Lúrapóg Larapóg put on a fantastic show for children performed by children. This excellent performance featured Singing, storytelling, dancing and music and all the children were able to take part. In the afternoon, Gearóidín Bhreathnach, the renowned Donegal Storyteller caught the pupils imagination with a selection of stories and legends, both newly written and long standing. We hope to make this book festival a yearly event.

We also saw the hard work of Club Óige Setanta, Triax and especially the hard work of local Gaelscoil students and the Sollus Highland Dancers pay off when they held an Irish language Flash Mob during Seachtain na Gaeilge. This colourful Flashmob happened in Foyleside to the great surprise of shoppers and it featured Irish Dancing, Hip Hop Dancing and Highland Dancing and a fantastic rendition of the Irish version of “Wake me up”. This performance both surprised and delighted passersby and it certainly sparked their Irish spirit.

Linda Irvine, the Irish Development Officer with the East Belfast Mission also dropped in on the Cultúrlann during Seachtain na Gaeilge to give a presentation and have a discussion about the Hidden History of Protestants and the Irish Language. We also launched an exhibition called “The Living Language” which gives insight into the same topic. This discussion gave learners and Irish Speakers a chance to gain an insight into an aspect of Irish that isn’t known by the public at large and it also gave them the opportunity to discuss problems and possibilities with Linda herself.

We finished off the very busy Irish week with St. Patricks Day in which we had a full day of events available to the public completely free of charge. The Cultúrlann was full with families all enjoying the Story telling, the Balloon Modelling, the Face Painting, the Music Sessions and the especially the Fanzini Bros. These 2 crazy Kerry men brought their Irish Language Circus show to the Cultúrlann and wowed young people and old with their antics.

We had a host of other events during Seachtain na Gaeilge as well and this is only a taste of the programme we had. Now we have to start planning for next year’s events.

Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin
37 Mórshráid Shéamais
BT48 7DF

Why minding our language is a priority

March 24, 2014

Opinion: Irish speakers assert the right to conduct business with the State in Irish because it is key to survival of the language

The thousands of Irish speakers who marched in Dublin last month for their rights weren’t looking for any special treatment.

The rights of Irish speakers are recognised in article eight of the Constitution and in the Official Languages Act 2003, while the rights of linguistic minorities are provided for in a number of important international documents including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Unesco’s Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights.

Increasingly, it is accepted that the rights of linguistic minorities are basic human rights.

As someone who was raised through Irish in the Gaeltacht and is now trying to raise his own children through Irish, I understand the difficulties faced by Irish speakers.

While many bodies fulfil their obligations willingly and conscientiously, the reality is that basic services in Irish are often made available as the exception rather than the rule.

Indeed, the notion that Irish speakers are somehow arguing for their rights from a position of privilege is one of the many absurdities that feature in the debate about our national language. Speaking Irish or raising a family through Irish is not an easy option.

Irish speakers live, after all, in a country where the majority speak English, and in the battle to save a minority language, the odds are always stacked in favour of the majority language, especially when the majority language is one of the world’s dominant means of communication.

The provision of language rights helps make the fight for the survival of a vulnerable or endangered language that little bit fairer, as languages often live or die depending on their perceived status and the level of prestige they are accorded.

Powerful message
When the rights of a linguistic minority to interact with the State in their own language are recognised, it sends a powerful message from the powerful.

In a review of Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World a number of years ago, the author Jane Stevenson suggested it might be time to adapt the old joke that a language is a dialect with an army, when “the real key to survival is for a language to be a dialect with a civil service”.

Stevenson wrote: “A class of bureaucrats with the power to defend its monopoly can keep a language going for centuries, as can a set of scriptures, while conquerors come and go.”

This is why Irish speakers, including my predecessor as Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, have been calling for the recruitment of more civil servants with Irish.

Irish speakers are asking for the right to conduct their business with the State in Irish because the provision of such services is key to the survival of the language, and not because they take a perverse joy in ringing up public bodies only to be put on hold and then told that “the Irish speaker is on holidays”.

These demands are being made by parents struggling against the odds to pass a 2,000-year-old language onto their children in order to preserve what is an important part of both our cultural identity and global linguistic diversity.

Is it too much to ask that children in the Gaeltacht should enjoy the right to basic services, such as healthcare, in their first language, which also happens to be the first official language of the State, according to the Constitution?

While governments since 1922 have made more positive interventions on behalf of Irish than is sometimes acknowledged, official language policy has sometimes consisted of no more than pieties and plámás.

By indulging in empty rhetoric about the importance of Irish, while failing to grant it anything like the status promised by all the lip service, the Irish State, since its foundation, has sent out mixed messages about the value of the language.

The Official Languages Act 2003 and the establishment of Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, were important milestones in that they marked a break from the tokenism of the past by giving practical effect to the rights of Irish speakers. The full implementation of this legislation and the continued independence of the Office of the Language Commissioner are crucial to the future of Irish.

There will always be those who view all Irish speakers as fanatics, and there will always be, as the current President of Ireland once put it, “people for whom Irish is not half-dead enough”. These negative views about Irish don’t represent the attitude of the vast majority of the people of Ireland.

On the contrary, research shows that more than 90 per cent of Irish people have a favourable attitude to the promotion and protection of Irish. This continued support is cause for hope, as is the success of our Gaelscoileanna, the vibrancy of TG4 and RTÉ RnaG, and the modest increase in the number of daily Irish speakers outside the education system reported in the last census.

Increasingly vulnerable
Irish, however, is in an increasingly vulnerable position in the Gaeltacht, and experts predict that its days as the main language of the home and community are numbered unless radical remedial action is taken.

Such radical action will require a will that has not always been apparent in the State’s approach to Irish.

In the meantime, only linguistic Darwinists would regard as radical the call for basic rights made by those who marched in Dublin last month.

Rónán Ó Domhnaill is An Coimisinéir Teanga

From Belfast to Belfearg

March 24, 2014

Irish speakers in Belfast are to follow Dublin’s lead and hold their own “Lá Dearg” (“Red Day”) march to highlight their concerns over the language.

Spokeswoman, Miss Caoimhe Ní Chathail, said that Irish speakers in the North had decided to build on the “energy that grew from the Irish-language day in Dublin. The Irish language community, North and South, are “red with anger” about the current circumstances in which our limited resources are being put in danger by state cut-backs and our language rights are being denied to us on a systemic level”.

She said that the European Commission had shown that the Northern Ireland Executive was failing Irish and that some politicians had a “hostile outlook”. In addition, there was “a lack of support for the use of the language in the courts, in the media, in public signage and in the education sector”.

The event was to highlight three demands: a comprehensive rights-based Irish Language Act for the North; the need to develop a comprehensive Irish-medium education system and to ensure that adequate resources be provided for the language.

The march will leave Cultúrlann MacAdam-Ó Fiaich, Falls Road, Saturday 12 April at 2pm and go to Belfast city centre.


Líofa 2015 ag druidim Sheachtain na Gaeilge

March 24, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

New app for the Leaving Cert

March 24, 2014

Extra resource for students due to take the Irish Oral Exam at the end of the month

With 40% of the marks going for the Irish Oral Exam, an interesting new resource has been launched by www.clevercourses.ie to help Leaving Certificate students.

Sraith Pictiúr 2014 is an interactive app covering the 20 pictures included in the irish Oral Exam. Each story within the app contains audio descriptions, key vocabulary, useful phrases along with English language translations and includes 120 different sample audio descriptions from native Irish speakers to help students improve pronunciation.

Sraith Pictiúr is a great resource for students who are currently preparing and revising for the exam which will take place at the end of March.

The app has been created by expert Irish teachers and past Irish oral state examiners and the Sraith Pictiúr producers say it has been designed to help students build the necessary language skills to create their own versions of the stories to help build the necessary skills to ace their oral exam.

Tiernan O’Neill, Product Marketing Manager with clevercourses.ie, said, “Having met with many Irish teachers in recent weeks, the feedback to date has been very positive, with many also downloading the App to show their students. It also promotes ICT in education which is something we feel very passionately about”.

The Sraith Pictiúr 2014 App is available for higher and ordinary level students and is available on Google Play and iOS App stores. It is priced at between €1.99 and €4.49.

Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com

Gaelcholáiste an Phiarsaigh

March 24, 2014

Cúntóirí Gaeilge 2014-2015

March 21, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Feighlí linbh le Gaeilge

March 21, 2014

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Website offers free lessons as Gaeilge

March 21, 2014

GAEILGE has just gone global.

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, the language-learning website Duolingo has announced that it will include the Irish language on the site. And it has asked Gaelgoirs to come on board and volunteer to help build the new course.

The service is completely free to use, employing a crowd-sourced business model where companies pay to have content translated by contributors.

Duolingo boasts more than 25m users across the world and encourages people to learn a variety of languages via games. Irish Language Commissioner Ronan O Domhnaill has said that the addition of our native language is a good thing.


“The more resources there are for people to learn Irish, the better,” he said. “Anything like this, assuming the standard is correct, will be a welcome development for the language.”

Duolingo is now recruiting contributors for its “incubator” system, which is expected to take months to complete and will require translations for thousands of sentences.

“We need to know as many translations as possible for each sentence, so when learners are asked to translate, we can tell them if their answer is correct,” they said. However, some users reacted negatively to the decision, which one asking: “Can we have something useful like Mandarin Chinese or Russian?” Others were more positive: “I’ll definitely study. I want to know the language of my ancestors.”

Some 77,000 Irish people use the language on a daily basis.


First meeting of Partnership Forum takes place

March 21, 2014

Questions regarding independence of Lead-Organisations under new Forum structure

The results of a rationalisation process on the voluntary organisations core-funded by Foras na Gaeilge were announced in January. Six organisations out of nineteen were selected to receive funding under the new model, and the other organisations will have their funding cut from 30 June 2014.

Under the new model, two forums have been established – an all-island Partnership Forum and a Language Forum for the island which will be made up of groups and community organisations funded by Foras na Gaeilge.

The first meeting of the Partnership Forum took place on Wednesday, 19 March 2014, with the heads of all six Lead-Organisations and senior executives from Foras na Gaeilge in attendance.

The Partnership Forum has been established following instructions from the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) to restructure the funding process of the Irish language core-funded sector. The Partnership Forum will be agreeing a strategic plan for the sector and each other’s plans and ensuring that the lead organisations will be working closely together in the best interests of the language.

While Foras na Gaeilge has stated that the six Lead-organisations will continue to operate independently while carrying out responsibilities within their field, questions have been raised regarding independence from the funding body, Foras na Gaeilge, who lead the Forum.

Foras na Gaeilge said that more meetings of the Partnership Forum will take place in the coming weeks at which language and strategy planning experts will be made available to ensure that all plans keep with principle and best practice.

Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com

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