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Area faces € 1m loss as college pulls plug

July 23, 2012

WHEN a third- level college pulled the plug on its association with a Gaeltacht area, the local community looked to re- invent itself.

The Iveragh Gaeltacht in south Kerry is smaller and lesser known than the more established Gaeltacht of the Dingle Peninsula – with which it competes for students. It decided to focus this summer on courses that target families – but that didn’t work either.

Situated about 10km south of Cahersiveen, near Ballinskelligs, the Iveragh Gaeltacht is spread across three parishes with a population of around 2,000. When the teacher- training e- learning college Hibernia College announced earlier this year that it would no longer be sending students, locals were faced with an estimated € 1m loss to the local economy.

“We decided we’d offer holiday packages to families where they could come and stay in rented cottages and attend Irish classes,” said manager of Comhchoiste Ghaeltachta Uibh Rathaigh, Caitlin Breatnach.

“While there was demand for it, there simply wasn’t enough for it to work this year.

“There definitely is potential to develop it but it’s just about getting the word out,” Ms Breatnach added.

The Iveragh Gaeltacht had hosted about 1,000 students from Hibernia College over the past three years, and they used to stay in rented houses in the area. It also provided 21 teaching jobs throughout the season.