Irish Examiner view: Appy gaeilgeoirs

Irish Examiner view: Appy gaeilgeoirs

Irish is the 16th most popular language for English-speakers to learn through the Duolingo app.

There is something about the relentless march towards globalisation that makes us reach more fervently for what is local. Not in a cut-off-the-rest-of-the-world way, or Brexit-like, but in a way that helps us to root into those traditions that have formed us over generations.

Perhaps that is one of the explanations for the unprecedented rise in interest in learning the Irish language in recent months. According to the language app Duolingo, over one million people are actively learning Irish every week. That means Irish is now the fastest-growing language and the number one language to learn in Ireland.

The appeal, however, is global. The app has 500m downloads globally with Irish being the 16th most popular language for English-speakers to learn.

The pandemic has something to do with it of course. Many who might have been thinking about brushing up on their Irish now have the time to do so. Even if the newbie gaeilgeoirs make only a little progress, this encouraging statistic is yet more proof of how important a role our heritage has played, and continues to play, in these exceptional times.

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