Irish language declining faster than thought

The Government is being urged to provide resources for language development as research reveals that the use of Irish is declining faster than previously thought in Gaeltacht areas.

The study for Údarás na Gaeltachta compared the social use of the language based on data from the 2006 and 2011 censuses. It found that two thirds of the population speak Irish daily in just 21 of 155 Gaeltacht areas examined, down from 24, and mostly in the Cois Farraige and south Connemara districts of Galway, in Corca Dhuibhne in Kerry and in north-west Donegal.

But the 26 communities in the medium category of daily use include many that have improved, particularly in the Dingle peninsula and Cork’s Muskerry Gaeltacht.

Authors Conchúr Ó Giollagáin and Martin Charlton said the erosion of Irish in the Gaeltacht is happening far faster than a 2007 study had warned, and it would be hard to argue it will be the main language anywhere in the Gaeltacht in 10 years’ time.

Conradh na Gaeilge said the Government needs to provide enough resources to implement a strong, courageous and comprehensive policy with a proper Gaeltacht education policy; adequate funding for Údarás na Gaeltachta and the new community language planning system, and support for Gaeltacht groups.

An Údarás spokesperson said the findings provide a reference for continuing work to implement the 20-year language strategy, but recent Department of Education Gaeltacht policy and statements in support of the language by Taoiseach Enda Kenny were welcome. She said mothers and fathers who decide to raise their children through Irish are the real language planners.

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