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(Gaeilge) Comórtas Clár Raidió do Mheánscoileanna do Bhliain na Gaeilge

November 27, 2018

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(Gaeilge) Gaelscoileanna á gceiliúradh ar Raidió na Life!

November 21, 2018

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Astronauts, Queens and Bandits promote Irish in novel TG4 ad campaign

June 27, 2018

300x600_Blindboy  300x600_Panti

TG4 has launched a quirky new advertising campaign featuring an eclectic bunch of celebrities including drag queen Panti Bliss, astronaut Chris Hadfield, Rubberbandit ‘Blindboy Boatclub’, women’s rugby sensation Sene and weather presenter Caitlín Nic Aoidh, to encourage everyone to use and celebrate whatever Irish they have.

The ‘Tá Gaeilge Agam’ campaign, has been devised in collaboration with award winning advertising agency Publicis, as part of TG4’s involvement with ‘Bliain na Gaeilge’. This is a government backed initiative to support the Irish language during 2018.

‘Tá Gaeilge Agam’ is an attention grabbing, fun, multi-media campaign on print, television, radio, online and outdoor media. It is directed at all levels of ‘Gaeilgeoir’, to inspire us all to use our Irish whether we have a ‘cúpla focal’, like Spaceman Hadfield, who famously tweeted ‘as Gaeilge’ while orbiting the earth, or we are ‘líofa’ like multi-talented Donegal native, Caitlín Nic Aoidh.

In a social media post supporting the initiative, Irish women’s star rugby star Sene Naoupu says: ‘I come from New Zealand and speak fluent Samoan. When we lived in Japan, we also learnt and spoke fluent Nihongo (Japanese). When we lived in England we spoke English. So naturally when we moved to Ireland, which has become our home, we immersed ourselves into the Irish culture and that includes understanding the proud history and identity that is Gaeilge! All too often, particularly as a sporting nation, we take pride in our Irishness yet don’t extend that pride in our language.

TG4 is calling on people to follow Sene’s and the other celebrities’ lead, to like & share the media, use the ‘twibbon’, as well as taking up the challenge themselves to speak whatever Irish you have loudly & proudly, wherever you are.

Creative Director of TG4, Seán Cathal Ó Coileáin says, ‘The Irish language needs to be relevant, inclusive and diverse if we are to embrace a new wave of people who are interested, but a little apprehensive about speaking our language. This campaign is TG4’s fun way of calling all of these people to positive action’.


Join the Campaign! Bí linn san fheachtas!

 You can find more information on the TG4 website here/Is féidir breis eolais ar shíomh gréasán TG4 anseo:


 Here is a link to the promotional video/Seo an nasc chuig an fhíseán bolscaireachta:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7_ZF7Ppa8I

 Why not add a Twibbon/Céard faoi Twibbon a úsáid:

Add the badge to your profile #TáGaeilgeAgam Cliceáil anseo  – http://bit.ly/TaGaeilgeAgam

12 Surprising Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

April 26, 2017

Why should you learn a second language?

There are several obvious reasons. It’s fun and it allows you to communicate with people from other countries. If you’re going to travel abroad, you probably need at least basic language skills.

But there are a number of other surprisingly powerful benefits from learning a second language. Most people are unaware of these benefits.

If you need yet another reason to study a second language, pay attention. You’re about to discover 12 surprising benefits of studying a second language.

BENEFIT #1: It Forces You To Think Deeply

Learning a second language forces you to think in new ways. You’re forced to grapple with grammar rules, word meaning, prefixes, suffixes, and a host of other new challenges. This sustained thinking develops your ability to think deeply, express concepts in new ways, and solve problems from new angles. Learning a second language teaches to you to think in ways you’ve never traditionally done.

BENEFIT #2: Your Ability To Switch Between Tasks Is Increased

Switching between tasks can be hugely challenging if you’re not used to it. It requires disengaging from one activity, switching to a new mindset, and then fully engaging in a different activity. As the American Psychological Association wrote:

“[A]lthough switch costs may be relatively small, sometimes just a few tenths of a second per switch, they can add up to large amounts when people switch repeatedly back and forth between tasks. Thus, multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error. Meyer has said that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time.”

When you learn a second language, you become much more proficient at switching between tasks and the toll on your productivity is significantly minimized.


BENEFIT #3: Your Brain Becomes More Resistant To Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Believe it or not, learning a second language can significantly delay the onset of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. This has been proven in several multilingual studies.

Speaking of one particular study, Alissa Sauer wrote:

After evaluating the participants, researchers found that those who spoke a second language delayed certain types of dementia by an average of 4.5 years. There was no additional benefit to those who spoke more than two languages and education, gender, and occupation had no effect on the delay.

Alzheimer’s is one of the leading killers in the United States and is a terrible disease. It is, essentially, a slow death. Being able to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s for even a year is significant, but for 4.5 years is an enormous benefit.

BENEFIT #4: Memory Is Significantly Improved

Memory is, in many ways, like a muscle. It is strengthened by working out. One unfortunate downside of the internet is that it has significantly weakened our memories. We can simply search for whatever we want with zero need to remember anything.

Learning a second language forces you to work your memory on a regular basis. It forces you to think hard about things and to store things in your short term and long term memory.

The Journal Of Experimental Psychology reported that bilingual children consistently outperform monolingual children in tasks requiring working memory.

If you find your memory slipping, making the effort to learn a second language can be a huge step in the right direction.

BENEFIT #6: Intelligence Is Increased

This sounds like infomercial hype, but there is legitimate scientific researching backing this benefit. It turns out that learning a second language has been shown to raise overall intelligence levels and reading levels.

This has broad implications. If you just want to be generally smarter (and who doesn’t?), you should consider learning a new language. And, if you or your child struggles with reading, adopting a second language can be a powerful boost.

No, learning a second language won’t turn you into a genius, but it can up your overall intelligence levels.

BENEFIT #7: Decision Making Skills Are Improved

One of the biggest hindrances to making good decisions is biases. Our biases cloud our judgment and can lead us to choose poorly when presented with a multitude of options.

Learning a second language has been shown to reduce our “heuristic biases”, which is one of the key factors in decision making. In other words, when we are presented with a series of choices, we are less reliant on our inherent (and often faulty) biases. Instead, we are able to choose based more on logic than gut feelings.

Heuristics are the series of simple rules we use to evaluate decisions. These consist of mental shortcuts that focus on a single issue of a complex problem and ignore other factors. For example, when asked if more English words begin with “K” or have “K” as the third letter, we instinctively choose the first option because it’s easy to think of words that begin with “K”. In reality, there are three times as many words with “K” as the third letter, demonstrating that our heuristics are helpful but often misleading.

Learning a second language forces you to think more carefully through problems, which in turn reduces your vulnerability to your instinctive, heuristic biases.

If you regularly find yourself making poor choices, learning a second language could be a lifesaver.

BENEFIT #8: Your Primary Language Skills Are Improved

One of the side benefits of learning a second language is that your primary language skills are also improved. Studying a second language forces you to think through things like vocabulary, conjugation, conversation, idioms, and a host of other things that we rarely think about when speaking our primary language.

Often, a person learning a second language becomes much more attuned to the nuances of the first language. They pick up on subtle things they never would have seen before and often develop a deeper understanding of the language.

While this may not be high on your language priority list, it certainly is a significant benefit.

BENEFIT #9: Increased Skill In Other Subject Matters

Interestingly, studying languages seems to increase other academic abilities such as mathematics. Studies have shown that individuals with a second language tend to perform better on standardized testing like the SAT.

The Center For Languages, Literature, and Culture at Ohio State University wrote:

Research has shown that math and verbal SAT scores climb higher with each additional year of foreign language study, which means that the longer you study a foreign language, the stronger your skills become to succeed in school. Studying a foreign language can improve your analytic and interpretive capacities. And three years of language study on your record will catch the eye of anyone reading your job or college application.

If you want to improve your mathematical ability, one surprising way to do it may be by learning a second language.

BENEFIT #10: Deeper Understanding Of Other Cultures

We often fail to realize how much our language influences our view of the world and other people. Immersing yourself in a foreign language opens new vistas and viewpoints. It allows you to understand other perspectives and embrace views other than your own.

Additionally, when you spend months learning about another culture, it’s difficult to be prejudiced against that culture. Suffice to say, one way to increase compassion and inclusiveness in the world would be to have everyone study a second language.

BENEFIT #11: Increased Career Options

We are increasingly living in a multicultural world. Companies open offices overseas, and remote jobs with foreign companies are being created. The need for bilingual individuals is greater than ever.

Learning a second language can, in many ways, double the number of career options available to you. You literally expand your job pool by multiple countries. Additionally, learning a second language can allow you to climb the career ladder faster. Positions within your company that were previously unavailable suddenly are within reach.

BENEFIT #12: Better Concentration Skills

Learning a second language has been shown to significantly improve a person’s ability to concentrate, particularly in environments with many stimuli (think school, dorm, etc.). The reason for this may surprise you. When speaking, bilinguals are constantly juggling two languages in their heads. The primary language is activated and the secondary language must be suppressed.

This constant juggling improves the brain’s ability to focus on one thing while tuning out other things. As one study noted:

The need to constantly control two languages confers advantages in the executive system, the system that directs cognitive processing. These effects have been demonstrated primarily using visual stimuli and are heightened in children and older adults. Specifically, bilinguals, relative to monolinguals, are better able to monitor conflicting sensory information and tune into a relevant stimulus or stimulus features amid irrelevant information, via a process known as inhibitory control.

In other words, knowing two languages increases a person’s ability to concentrate on one thing and ignore irrelevant information.

If you struggle with concentration, consider learning a second language!


Learning a second language is beneficial on so many levels. It increases your intelligence, improves your understanding of the world, and opens up new career options for you. It improves your cognitive skills and helps you be more sympathetic to other cultures.

Frankly, this is one of those subjects that has very little downside and tremendous upside. In addition to the benefit of learning a second language, you become a much more rounded person.

Do you see the power of a second language? Now’s the time to get started learning one.

Source: Deep English

Children with two languages excel at school

April 18, 2017

Children who are brought up speaking two or more languages outperform their peers in English and maths by the age of seven, research has found.

Data on 19,000 British children in the Millennium Cohort Study found that those who spoke more than one language at home lagged behind at school at ages three, four and five. However, they then powered ahead, leaving behind those who spoke only English.

The findings suggest that teachers and the government should encourage parents to use their native tongue at home. The research was conducted by Anita Staneva at the University of Sydney and will be presented today at the annual conference of the Royal Economics Society in Bristol.

It suggests a wider benefit to children of speaking a foreign language, Dr Staneva said, adding that parents often think those children are at a disadvantage because one or both of their parents are non native speakers and so compensate by doing extra work with them.

Other research has shown speaking two difference languages from an early age actually helps shape the brain. Technological advances have allowed researchers to investigate how bilingualism interacts with the neurological system. It has emerged that in order to maintain the balance between two languages, a bilingual child relies heavily on “executive function”, the control room which organises the rest of the brain.

This constant practice strengthens the control mechanisms which lead to better learning capabilities, problem solving, memory and other skills later on.

One study found the “executive function” was more developed among children from bilingual homes even from the time when they are babies, simply because of listening to two different languages.

Source: The Times


April 18, 2017

Laois student is chosen overall 2017 Competition winner

Lucy Deegan, a 17-year old student from Luggacurren, Co. Laois – and a pupil at Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach in Co. Carlow – has been chosen overall winner of this year’s 63rd Texaco Children’s Art Competition having taken first prize in the senior 16-18 years age category. Her prize will be a cheque for €1,500 in addition to which she will be invited to travel to Tokyo next August at the invitation of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture. There she will be an honoured guest at an awards ceremony being held in conjunction with the 18th International High School Arts Festival in which her winning artwork will be one of the leading exhibits.

Described by competition adjudicators as a ‘beautifully composed and exquisitely finished piece’, her winning entry, entitled ‘Tom – Summer’, is a detailed portrait study of her brother, carefully executed with colouring pencils and white gel pen. Asked what inspired her to choose him as her subject, Lucy said: “My brother Tom is special to our family. Because he means so much to us, I wanted to capture him at his happiest.”

Lucy – who is well known to many as a midfield player on the County Laois ladies minor football team – attributes much of her artistic achievements to the encouragement and guidance she receives from her art teacher Noirín Ní Eireamhóin and from renowned artist Iwona Nartowska O’Reilly who runs a local art class.

Praising what he termed the ‘skill and maturity’ of her work – which took almost two months to complete – the Chairman of the judging panel, Professor Declan McGonagle described Lucy’s winning entry as “a life-like and brilliantly executed study in which the artist has so perfectly captured the personality of her subject and in which the affection she has for her brother is so wonderfully revealed.”

Asked how she felt upon hearing of her success, Lucy said: “I have been entering the Texaco Children’s Art Competition every year and it has always been my dream to be the overall winner. My mum was crying when she told me and I just burst into tears beside her.”

In winning the Competition, Lucy has underlined her own artistic talent (this is her fifth success in the Competition) and that of her siblings also – her brother Tom and sisters Annie Rose and Juliet have all won prizes in previous years.

In winning the coveted first prize, she fought off competition from thousands of young students from across Ireland who took part in the Competition. She will be presented with her prize at the prize-giving ceremony in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham next month, when all of the 126 winners, from seven categories, will be in attendance.

Also in Category A, second prize (€1,000) was won by Joel Smyth (17), a student at Bangor Academy & Sixth Form College, Co. Down, for his work entitled ‘Lone Tree’, while third prize (€750) was won by Grace Carson (17), from Cookstown High School, Co. Tyrone, for her untitled winter landscape.

In Category B (14-15 years), the €450 first prize was won by Dublin student Méabh Scahill (14), from Sutton Park School, for her self-portrait, while second prize (€350) was won by Amy Boylan (14), from Gorey Community School, Co. Wexford, for her artwork entitled ‘My Best Friend, Halle’. Third prize (€250) went to Nicole Forster (15), from Wilson’s Hospital School, Multyfarnham, Co. Westmeath, for her work entitled ‘Portrait Of My Dad’.

In Category C (12-13 years), first prize of €350 went to Amy Zhao (12), a pupil at Scoil Na gCeithre Máistrí, Athlone, Co. Westmeath for her self-portrait pencil sketch. Second prize (€250) was won by Ciarán Leonard (13) from St. Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise, for his portrait study entitled ‘Weathered Wisdom’. Third prize (€200) went to Emer Leahy (13), from St. Joseph’s Of Cluny Killiney, Co. Dublin, for her entry entitled ‘Sun, Sea, Sisters’.

In Category D (9-11 years), first prize (€250 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Ava Henson (11), a student at The Harold School, Glasthule, Co. Dublin for her self-portrait. No stranger to the competition, Ava won second prize in the same category last year and first prize in the 7-8 years age category in the 2014 Competition. Second prize (€200 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Rachel Glynn (11), from Scoil Bhríde, Four Mile House, Co. Roscommon, for her pencil-sketch entitled ‘My Grandad’. Third prize (€150 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Ruth Donoghue (11), from Tarmonbarry, Co. Roscommon for a study entitled ‘Tiger Lily’.

In Category E (7-8 years), the first prize of a €200 Art & Hobby gift voucher was won by Noah James Flynn (7), from Scoil Bhríde, Menlough, Co. Galway, for a piece entitled ‘Ruby May’. Second prize (€150 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Niall Dalton (7), from St. Columba’s National School, Co. Longford, whose colourful work is entitled ‘Anne’s Dog, Molly’, while third prize (€125 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Westmeath student Xier Lin (7), from St. Mary’s Primary School, Mullingar, for a composition entitled ‘Sweet Cherries’.

In Category F (6 years and younger), the youngest age group in the Competition, first prize winner of a €150 Art & Hobby gift voucher was Eibhlín Murphy (6), a pupil at St. Joseph’s Girls National School, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, for her plant study entitled ‘Daisies’. Second prize (€125 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Eve Aherne (6), from St. Marnock’s National School, Portmarnock, Co. Dublin, for her colourful entry entitled ‘Fluttering Feathers’. Third prize (€100 Art & Hobby gift voucher) was won by Agnes Mae McCaubrey (5), from Dundonald Primary School, Belfast, for an imaginative work entitled ‘Fairy Garden’.

In Category G, reserved for entries from children with special needs, first prize of a €400 Art & Hobby gift voucher was won by James Wellwood, (17) a student at Coláiste Mhuire, Johnstown, Co. Kilkenny, for his painting entitled ‘Peafowl In The Forest’. No stranger to the prizewinner’s enclosure, James won the same prize in last year’s competition. Second prize (€300 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Antrim student Rhys Newbronner (15), from Jordanstown School, Newtownabbey, for his entry entitled ‘Frog’, while third prize (€200 Art & Hobby gift voucher) went to Dylan Carroll (17), from St. Peter’s Special School, Rathgar, for his work entitled ‘Peppers On A Plate’.

Final judging was carried out by the chairman of the judging panel, Professor Declan McGonagle, former Director of the National College of Art & Design, assisted by preliminary judges Dr. Denise Ferran (President, Royal Ulster Academy and well-known artist & art historian), Eoin Butler (Artist & Lecturer in Visual Arts), Seán Kissane (Curator: Exhibitions, IMMA), Aoife Ruane (Director, Highlanes Municipal Art Gallery, Drogheda) and Colleen Watters (Head of Learning & Partnership, Ulster Museum, Belfast).

Announcing the awards at a reception held in the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane at Parnell Square, Dublin today (Tuesday, 11th April 2017), James Twohig, Director of Ireland Operations for Valero, who market fuel in Ireland under the Texaco brand, paid tribute to the winners, praising their imagination, skill and enthusiasm. He also thanked the many teachers from schools throughout Ireland who have given their support to the Competition throughout its 63 years history.

The Texaco Children’s Art Competition is the longest running sponsorship in the history of arts sponsoring in Ireland – and popularly regarded as Ireland’s longest-running sponsorship of any kind. It has an unbroken history that dates back to the very first Competition held in 1955. This year, as has been the case throughout its life, it has been a platform on which young artists have had their talents recognised and a springboard on which many have risen to national prominence. Aside from giving students the space to give expression to their talent, the Competition has focused a spotlight on the quality of art teaching in Irish schools and the importance that the educational establishment attaches to the subject of art education.

Past winners whose early interest in art and the arts may well have been encouraged by their participation in the Competition include artists Graham Knuttel, Robert Ballagh, Bernadette Madden, Dorothy Cross, fashion designer Paul Costello and former broadcaster and artist Thelma Mansfield. Other notable past winners include former Government Minister Ruairi Quinn (a four-times winner), communications consultant and broadcaster Terry Prone, Chairman of the Pension Authority David Begg, actress Jean Anne Crowley, musician Ethna Tinney, Trinity College Professor of Contemporary Irish History, Eunan O’Halpin and the late novelist Clare Boylan.


Its Understood KWETB Is Examining Options For North Kildare Gaelcholáiste Accommodation

April 18, 2017

Its understood that Kildare Wicklow Education & Training Board is “examining accommodation options” for a Gaelcholáiste in North Kildare.

The school is sceduled to open in Maynooth in 2019.

Maynooth Community College opened in 2014 with an Irish-medium Aonad.

The Dept. of Education has consistently stated that, should the Aonad demonstrate sufficient viability over a four year period, a Gaelcholáiste would be established.

Its co-patrons will be KWETB and An Foras Pátrúnachta.

The training board site assessment process involes consideration of the timing and availability of appropriate infrastructure in the Maynooth area.

Kildare North Labour Party Representative Emmet Stagg has welcomed the beginning of this assessement and stated that he would continue to press the Minister on this issue to ensure that the Gaelcholaiste opens on time in 2019.

Source: KFM Radio

Sod turned for Gaelscoil

April 11, 2017

The sod has been turned on the new Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh school building at Miller’s Lane, Knocknacarra.

Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Seán Kyne turned the first sod on Monday, officially marking the commencement of construction of the new school building and campus for Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

The school will be one of the largest Irish medium primary schools in Ireland, accommodating up to 720 pupils. The new building will consist of 24 classroom school with associated play area and parking facilities.

School principal Dairiona Nic Con Iomaire said, “Today marks another significant milestone in the history of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

“From small beginnings in 1993 with just 20 pupils, we have grown over the years to meet the demands of the Knocknacarra community for Irish medium education.

“This new school building, which represents the first phase of the development of Campus Mhic Amhlaigh will help us as a school community not only to keep apace with the school’s needs but also to further support the broader development of the Irish language in what is the only suburban Gaeltacht in Ireland.”


Census shows we must rethink our approach to Irish and the Gaeltacht

April 10, 2017

There are now more ‘new speakers’ of Irish committed to the language than there are native speakers in the Gaeltacht

The 2016 Census returns, published this week, contain bad news for the Irish language, with a decline across all significant categories: daily speakers of Irish outside the education system and knowledge of and use of Irish in the Gaeltacht. The fall in the Gaeltacht is particularly dramatic – an 11 per cent drop in daily speakers outside the education system within the past five years – and provides further confirmation of the decline of Irish in its traditional heartland, a change which has been documented extensively in recent years.

Although the latest Census figures also illustrate a fall in daily speakers outside the Gaeltacht, that reduction, from 54,010 to 53,217 people, is very small (just over 1 per cent). There has also been an 0.8 per cent increase in the numbers of weekly speakers outside the education system, which probably include those who speak Irish well but lack opportunities to do so. This confirms another existing trend: that the numbers speaking Irish regularly outside the Gaeltacht, although small, are more stable than the equivalent figures from the Gaeltacht.

Research on these “new speakers” of Irish – fluent and committed speakers who were not raised with the language in the Gaeltacht – shows that some look to the Gaeltacht as the model, although it is declining, while others are attempting to create new models such as the recent Pop-Up Gaeltacht events around the country. This is a European-wide trend and is being explored by a European research network on “new speakers in a multilingual Europe”.

The network spans 28 European countries and looks at situations where minority languages (including Irish) are acquired by non-traditional means and in non-traditional settings. Researchers involved in the project have been looking at the role that “new speakers” play in the future of these languages. The project is led by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland and involves more than 28 partners from across Europe, including the National University of Ireland, Galway and the University of Limerick. In addition to Irish, other languages involved include Basque, Breton, Catalan, Galician, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh.

New speakers of Irish or other minority languages learn the language outside of the home, school, through adult-classes or other formal means. New speakers differ from simple learners in that they are committed to speaking the language on a regular basis and seeking out opportunities to use the language.

There are now more new speakers of Irish than native speakers. We have spoken at length with many such speakers from a range of backgrounds and from different parts of the country. They have different stories to tell but what they have in common is that they are deeply committed to the language. This is what makes them want to use the language and to put 13 years of school Irish into practice.

Some newcomers to the language have decided to model their Irish on traditional Gaeltacht varieties. This has sometimes been through dedicated self-study or visits to the Gaeltacht. Some new speakers idealise a traditional Gaeltacht variety and are can be critical of newer forms of “learner” Irish.

At the same time, some other new speakers see themselves as fluent Irish speakers and are less concerned with speaking with a Gaeltacht blas. Some even flaunt what they proudly refer to as “Dublin Irish”. Others still consider themselves “experts” in Irish. There are also some who lack confidence in terms of grammatical accuracy and fluency. We have seen a wide range of abilities. This is often linked to opportunities to use Irish and the amount of practice these speakers can get. There are some new speakers whose use of Irish does not go beyond their weekly ciorcal cainte at the local community hall or local coffee shop.

These speakers are often reluctant to engage in what they perceive as more fluent speakers. Nonetheless, they are committed to their weekly conversational groups which often involved heated debate about the Tuiseal Ginideach or irregular verbs. Newcomers to Ireland are also part of the mix and we also came across many new speakers of non-Irish origin. These speakers had often learned Irish to a very high level and are dedicated supporters of the language.

New speakers of Irish are not of course restricted to Ireland itself. We came across vibrant communities of Irish speakers at Irish Centres in the United States and online communities of language learners spanning the four corners of the world. This shows the extent to which Irish has moved beyond what we would normally think of as Irish-speaking areas.

Among new speakers, there is a strong sense of “becoming” and a desire to joining an existing group of regular Irish speakers who are committed to the future of the language. “Becoming” an Irish speaker can be a life-changing experience for people which can involve sending their children to a Gaelscoil or speaking Irish at home.

Although the teaching of Irish at school is often presented as a failure, we found that becoming an Irish speaker was often prompted by an inspirational Irish teacher. Whatever the reason though, becoming a new speaker of Irish requires a huge personal effort. Becoming an Irish speaker is a journey and for those who embark on that journey, there is always more to be learned.

Native speakers of Irish and their historical links to the Gaeltacht are an important part of new speakers’ consciousness. Some new speakers talk about tensions with native speakers. These speakers tend to have little interest in traditional Irish but will happily speak their own hybridised variety among themselves. Others forge strong links and friendships with Gaeltacht speakers, based on the common goal of promoting the use of Irish.

Most new speakers see themselves as having a role in the future of Irish. The 2012 Gaeltacht Act, while not without its faults, is the first recognition of the need to plan for Irish-speaking networks outside the traditional Gaeltacht. However the Census returns provide no evidence that the poorly-funded language planning process being rolled out in the Gaeltacht and elsewhere is having a positive impact.

Investment in community-based language planning, aimed both at the Gaeltacht and at new speakers, needs to be increased substantially for it to have any chance of success. The paltry sums allocated to the current 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language fall well short of what is required. Indeed successive governments have shown themselves to be particularly apathetic on the language question; the Language Commissioner (Coimisinéir Teanga) recently published a damning indictment of the falling standard of public services in Irish rather than the progress envisaged by the Official Languages Act 2003. These Census returns are a stark warning that the continuous increase over recent decades in the numbers of those claiming competence in Irish cannot be taken for granted. It can only be hoped that they will be a wake-up call and lead to a more engaged and pro-active public policy that will recognise the needs of regular speakers of Irish throughout the country.

Dr John Walsh is a senior lecturer in Irish at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Prof Bernadette O’Rourke works in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburg

Foinse: Irish Times

(Gaeilge) Daonáireamh 2016 agus an Ghaeilge

April 10, 2017

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

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