The Capital of Ireland’s Gaeltacht Declares for the Irish Language - Galway is a Gaelic City

Galway City in the west of Ireland has declared itself to be a bi-lingual city giving equal status to Irish alongside English.  Ironic that the City Council is making the effort considering Irish is already the official language of Ireland. But then very little about the relationship between the Irish State and Irish language makes sense, even at the local level.  When contrasting what Dublin has done for, or done to, the Irish Language versus the strides being made by the Welsh tongue under the stewardship of Welsh Language Commissioner Meri Huws, the mind reels.  Remember this is an Irish government that provoked the 2014 resignation of Irish Language Commissioner Sean O' Cuirreain in protest of what  he described as a government that has “… continuously driven (Gaelic) out to the margins of Irish society in a process accelerated by the inaction of Government, the civil service and the public sector."

But the good news of the day is out of Galway, not Dublin.  The 2011 census reports that 42% of the residents of Galway City speak Irish and 20% speak Gaelic in the home.  In important ways Galway City is the capital of the Gaeltacht. Galway is the home of the National Irish Language Theater and the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) has a presence in the city. There are four Irish medium primary schools and an Irish medium secondary school. The Galway campus of the National University of Ireland (NUI) provides Irish medium education at all levels and its website declares “A unique aspect of NUI Galway’s role as a University is its strategic commitment to the provision of University education through the medium of Irish and the University’s aim to serve the Gaeltacht and the Irish language community, and to create an exemplary bilingual campus. “

Galway is also home to Gaillimh le Gaeilge, a quasi government entity established in 1987 with the aim of promoting the Irish language as an economic resource and who work with Galway City Council and the local Chamber of Commerce to figure out how to make money off of the ancient tongue of the land.  The news reports on the announcement included the following on the motivation for the City Council’s action in declaring Galway a bi-lingual city:  “In terms of tourism, the Irish language is worth 40 million euro per annum to the city and county. A new steering committee will ensure Galway’s bilingual status becomes a unique selling point.”

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