Gaelic revival: Wikis


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For the Gaelic resurgence to overthrow English supremacy in the 14th-16th century, see: Gaelic resurgence.

Gaelic revival (Irish: An Athbheochan Ghaelach) refers to the late-nineteenth-century national revival of interest in the Irish language and ancient Irish folklore, sports, songs, and arts considered to be part of the pre-conquest heritage of the native Irish people and the reemergance of the Irish language in its native Ireland. Irish had diminished as a spoken tongue, remaining the main daily language only in isolated rural areas, with English as the dominant language of the majority of Ireland.


Early Gaelic revival

In 1842 the Young Ireland organization founded The Nation, a newspaper that published the poetic works of Thomas Osborne Davis, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Richard D'Alton Williams, and Speranza (the pseudonym of Lady Wilde, mother of Oscar Wilde) which spurred the revival further. Jeremiah Joseph Callanan was the first to use the Gaelic refrain in English verse. Thomas Moore, Charles Maturin, and Maria Edgeworth also incorporated Irish themes from earlier Gaelic works into their writings.

Modern Irish language revival

Modern Irish language revival has had great success in the three important areas of education, government and the media. Recently, the private sector has also begun to realise the value of having Irish language services.[citation needed] During the nineteenth century many young people emigrated from Ireland. Native language, music, and literature began to weaken. However, at the end of the nineteenth century, people became interested in the Irish language,customs and games again.

Pre-school, primary and secondary

The Gaelscoileanna (Irish-medium primary and secondary schools) currently have approximately 50,000 pupils/students enrolled, with 383 Gaelscoils (inside and outside of the Gaeltacht), 308 gaelscoileanna at primary level, and 77 schools at post-primary level (gaelcholáistí), in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland[citation needed], making the Gaelscoileanna project the most successful minority language immersion education project in Europe. At present 10% of the schooling population receive their education entirely through Irish. In fact in 2009, there are plans to build 10 more Gaelscoileanna and 5 more Gaelcholáistí in the Republic.

Another successful movement has been the Naíonraí "preschool" initiative which now boasts over 221 preschool groups across the country with 4,000 children attending them[citation needed].

In Northern Ireland, there are 80 such preschools, primary and secondary schools however it only makes up 1% of the total schooling population in Northern Ireland.

A youth organisation called Ógras, caters for children and young people between the ages of 8-19. There are 35 such youth groups all across Ireland. All group activities are carried out using the Irish language.

There are also 47 Irish-language summer schools Coláistí Samhraidh across the four provinces which organise 3-week stays for primary and secondary school children within the Gaeltacht regions ranging in cost from 650-900 euro. Some 26,000 pupils and students attend these courses every year.

It has helped to encourage other similar minority language immersion projects such as the Breton Diwan schools, Basque ikastolas, the Occitan calandretas and the Catalan Bressola. The Gaelscoil initiative has successfully managed to become involved in both urban and rural school life, with Gaelscoileanna in every city in Ireland. The two counties with the highest number of Gaelscoileanna are: Dublin with 31 Gaelscoileanna and 8 Gaelcholáistí while Cork has 22 Gaelscoileanna and 8 Gaelcholáistí.

Third level

There are also many third level courses offered in Irish at all universities (UCC, TCD, UCD, DCU, UL, NUIM, NUIG, UU, QUB) throughout Ireland. Many of these universities also have thriving Irish language departments such as the NUI constituent universities, UL, TCD, UCC, DCU and UCD. The national Union of Students in Ireland also has its own full-time Irish language officer and campaign. Most universities in the Republic also have their own Irish language officers elected by the students.

In December 2009, the Irish government announced funding of 1 million euro for third-level institutions abroad who offer or wish to offer Irish language courses to their students. There are thirty such universities where the Irish language is taught to students.

There are also similar courses offered at the following universities in Britain:

Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberystwyth, Liverpool and Cambridge.

At the following universities in continental Europe:

Universities of Oslo, Uppsala, Freiburg, Bonn, Berlin, Innsbruck, Vienna, Lublin, Moscow.

At the following universities in North America and Australia:

Universities of Toronto, Ottawa, St. Francis Xavier University, Harvard, Berkeley, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Marquette, Arizona, Marylhurst, Boston, Saint Thomas, New York, Sydney.



Belfast - Gaeltacht Quarter

There is a small city quarter in Gaeltacht Quarter, Belfast where the Irish language is spoken, where there are Gaelscoileanna primary schools, Gaelcholáistí secondary schools, Naíonraí creches, an Irish language restaurant and agencies as well as the Cultúrlann cultural centre which also houses Raidió Fáilte(Northern Ireland's only full-time Irish language radio station).

May 2008, Gerry Adams put forward a proposal to turn part of West Belfast into An Ceathrú Gaeltachta/Gaeltacht Quarter encompassing a population of 20,000 people as it is widely regarded that if the language is to survive, it must make a come-back in Irish cities.

Dublin - Ballymun

In a special report on the 13 January 2009 on Nuacht TG4 news, it was confirmed that a group in Ballymun, in conjunction with the local branch of Glór na Gael, have received planning permission to build 40 homes for people who want to live in an Irish-speaking community in the heart of the city. There are four Gaelscoileanna schools and Naíonraí creches in the area, as well as a shop where Irish is spoken. Deposits have been given already by those who want to live in such a community, and are all very positive about the project. The group hope that their project may become a prototype for other similar mini-Ghaeltachtaí around the country.



The introduction of the Official Languages Act 2003 in the Republic, brought about the establishment of the office of the Irish language commissioner. This and the fact that Irish was declared the 21st official language of the European Union in 2006, gave a certain newfound confidence to the language movement, both North and South and to both non-Irish speakers and Irish speakers alike. The Irish name for the "Gateway to the European Union" webportal is "Tairseach an Aontais Eorpaigh". When Irish MEP's wish to make a speech in Irish during a session of the European Parliament, there are Interpreters on standby to interpret from Irish to English. Irish is the only Celtic language to be accorded such official status within the European Union.


In April 2008, the Taoiseach elect Brian Cowen made a speech in Irish stating that Irish was his teanga dhúchais 'native language' and

"Sé atá a mholadh agam ná stádas na teanga a ardú agus sochaí na tíre a spreagadh agus a ghríosadh chun cuspóirí ár sinnsear a bhaint amach."

"What I'm proposing is raising the status of the language and encourage Irish society to achieve the aims of its ancestors".

The President, Taoiseach and Tánaiste all speak Irish.

Below is a list of members of the Irish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly, EU Parliament and US Congress who speak Irish.

  • Of the 15 Members of the EU Parliament on the island of Ireland, 6 speak Irish.
  • 15-20 Teachta Dála (Member of the Irish Parliament) can speak Irish.
  • 4 Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly can speak Irish.
Dáil Éireann
Title Name
Taoiseach Brian Cowen
Tánaiste Mary Coughlan
Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív
Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government John Gormley
Minister for Education & Science Batt O'Keeffe
Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan Jnr
Government Chief Whip Pat Carey
Leader of the Labour Party Eamonn Gilmore
Leader of the Fine Gael Party Enda Kenny
Member of the Sinn Féin Party Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin
Member of the Sinn Féin Party Aengus Ó Snodaigh
Member of the Fianna Fáil Party Micheál Martin
Member of the Socialist Party Joe Higgins
Member of the Green Party Trevor Sargent
Member of the Labour Party Michael D. Higgins
Northern Ireland Assembly
Title Name
Leader of the Sinn Féin Party Gerry Adams
Deputy Leader of the SDLP Patsy McGlone
Member of the SDLP Party Dominic Ó Brolcháin
Former MLA and Member of the SDLP Party Sean Farren
Former MLA and Member of the SDLP Party Bríd Rodgers
Member of the Sinn Féin Party Francie Brolly
Title Name
MEP for Dublin (Socialist Party) Joe Higgins
MEP for Dublin (Labour) Proinsias De Rossa
MEP for Northern Ireland (Sinn Féin) Bairbre De Brún
MEP for North-West (Fianna Fáil) Pat "the Cope" Gallagher
MEP for North-West (Fine Gael) Jim Higgins
MEP for South (Fine Gael) Seán Kelly
Title Name
State Senator from Maine (United States) Margaret Craven


14% (140,000) of the population of the Republic of Ireland listen to Irish language radio programming daily, 16% (160,000) listen 2-5 times a week, while 24% (240,000) listen to Irish programming once a week.[citation needed] These figures show that 540,000 people listen at least once a week, while 300,000 listen more frequently.[citation needed] These figures demonstrate that even though the number of Irish native speakers (active speakers) is in decline, the number of passive speakers (who read Irish, write Irish, listen to Irish) is thriving, both in the urban and rural areas across all strata of Irish society, but much more predominantly amongst those with third level education.[citation needed]

With Irish language rights activists from the Gaeltacht regions, campaigning for language rights during the 1960s, there was a strong demand among native Irish speakers for their own radio station, which would bring together all Gaeltacht regions, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta was the product of this. The station was founded in 1972 and it became one of Ireland's national radio stations.

In Northern Ireland, Irish-speakers, who are less numerous, did not have the same rights as speakers in the Republic of Ireland. As a result of this, there has been a huge movement demanding rights for Irish-speakers. The daily newspaper Lá Nua was founded in Belfast in 1984 and today it has a circulation of 7,000 across all of Ireland.[citation needed] It has the biggest daily circulation of any of the other Celtic language newspapers.[citation needed]

This also had a knock-on effect on Irish radio programming with the demand for a new community radio station called Raidió na Life in 1993 within the Greater Dublin area, catering for the Irish native speakers in Dublin, civil service and pupils/students.

Two decades after Raidió na Gaeltachta was established, this paved the way to the setting up of Ireland's first Irish language television station, Teilifís na Gaeilge(now called TG4) in 1996. According to the census, as much as 1.5m people in the Republic declare themselves to be competent in Irish. This reason would become the basis for the demand for a new Irish language station. In its first year of broadcasting, TnaG had a 0.7% share of the national television audience with a much smaller budget in comparison to RTÉ One and Network 2. However, ten years later, TG4 now has a 3.2% share of the national audience, thereby tripling its ratings since the 1990s. TG4 became the catalyst and provided the environment for creativity and imagination to flourish. Many more non-Irish speakers were tuning into the station thereby improving their level of Irish.

At the same time as Teilifís na Gaeilge(TG4) was broadcasting for the first time, Foinse a new Irish weekly newspaper was launched in October 1996, based in An Cheathrú Rua County Galway, which today has a circulation of 10,000. It has the biggest weekly circulation of any of the other Celtic language newspapers.

Under the Good Friday Agreement, the Irish language must be promoted within Northern Ireland and as a result the public broadcaster the BBC Northern Ireland created a range of Irish language programmes for the growing Irish-speaking community in the North. As well as this, in September 2006, Greater Belfast's first Irish radio station Raidió Fáilte was established.

Raidió Rí-Rá, Ireland's first youth radio station entirely in Irish began broadcasting online for the first time in 2008, it was then given a temporary multi-city FM licence for the month of March 2009 to coincide with Seachtain na Gaeilge. The station has announced that it expects to be available on digital DAB as of summer 2009 thereby increasing its listenership.

Irish media today: North and South

The figures
  • Television: (Total annual funding €40m)
    • Northern Ireland: The total amount of money committed annually to Irish language TV programming in the North is £3m (The Irish Language Broadcast Fund).
    • Republic of Ireland: The total amount of money committed annually to Irish language TV programming in the South is €38 million (TG4)
  • Radio: (Total annual funding €13m)
    • Northern Ireland: Does not commit any money towards Irish language radio programming in the North.
    • Republic of Ireland: The total amount of money committed annually to Irish radio programming in the South is €13m (RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta).
Foras na Gaeilge

FnaG is a governing body of the Irish language responsible for promoting the language across the entire island of Ireland and is part of The North/South Language Body.

Northern Ireland

As part of the Good Friday and Saint Andrew's Agreements, provision must be made for the Irish language in Northern Ireland. As a result of this, BBC Northern Ireland created an Irish language department and it produces programmes in Irish:

  • For children, there are programmes such as Na Dódaí and an tÁiléar Draoíchta.
  • For young people, there is Imeall Geall entertainment show and Gaisce Gnó.
  • For general audience, there are music shows such as Blas Ceoil and Ceird an cheoil.

However at present, there is no Irish language radio station serving all of Northern Ireland.

Republic of Ireland

As Irish is the first official language of the state, the government provides for broadcasting media to be made available in the language. Both TG4 and RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta fulfill this role.


  • For children, there is Cula 4, which broadcasts a range of cartoons, as well as Aifric teen drama.
  • For young people, there is music show Pop 4, South Park, Seacht university drama set in Belfast(40-50,000 viewership) and Irish talent show Glas Vegas (100,000 viewership).
  • For general audience, there is the long-running soap Ros na Rún (160,000 viewership), political-comedy Rásaí na Gaillimhe (70,000-100,000), documentary Cogar (50,000 viewership), international documentary Fíorscéal (50,000 viewership), country music competition Glór Tíre (100-130,000 viewership), Irish dancing competition An Jig Gig (100,000 viewership), interview-style show Comhrá, weekly news review 7 Lá, and arts programme Imeall.

Modern Irish music

A company called Digital Audio Productions specialising in all aspects of radio programming has created two very successful Top 40 Oifigiúil na hÉireann and Giotaí brands of Irish-language radio programmes.

Since 2007, Top 40 Oifigiúil na hÉireann (Ireland's Official Top 40) is a new phenomenon, and it has become increasingly popular to hear the Irish Top 40 hits being presented entirely in Irish on what are regarded as English-language radio stations such as:East Coast FM, Flirt FM, Galway Bay FM, LM FM, Midwest Radio, NEAR FM 101.6FM, Newstalk, Red FM, Spin 1038, Spin South West and Wired FM.

For decades, too much focus was placed on the importance of Irish traditional music to the detriment of the younger generation, who became disillusioned and felt disenfranchised from the Irish language movement until recently. But young people have taken back their language and have begun to start singing some songs in Irish as part of the Seachtain na Gaeilge campaign which collaborates with up and coming modern Irish musicians to produce songs in Irish. These have become the infamous Ceol '08 albums and the following artists have taken part: Mundy, The Frames, The Coronas, The Corrs, The Walls, Paddy Casey, Kíla, Luan Parle, Gemma Hayes, Bell X1 and comedian/rapper Des Bishop.

Electric Picnic, one of Ireland's most renowned music festivals has an Irish language tent called Puball na Gaeilge which is hosted by DJs from the Dublin-based Irish language radio station Raidió na Life, as well as having well known celebrities from Irish language media, such as Hector O'Heochagáin, doing sketches and comedy all in Irish and many well known Irish singers.

The Des Bishop generation

Highly respected language activists such as Hector Ó hEochagáin (from Amú Amigos) and Des Bishop (from In the Name of the Fada), Daithi O'Daibhin (from Top 40 Oifigiúil na hÉireann) are at present having some success trying to make the language more cool in the eyes of the younger generation. Comedian Dara Ó Briain presented a children's TV show in Irish earlier in his career.

As part of Seachtain na Gaeilge in March 2008, Digital Audio Production in cooperation with Conradh na Gaeilge created Ireland's first web-based youth radio station Raidió Rí-Rá completely in Irish. Ireland's first contemporary Irish monthly magazine Nós for young adults was also established. Both of these are having some success particularly as they focus on encouraging the younger generation to use the language. Apart from Raidió na Gaeltacta, AnochtFM, Raidió na Life, Raidió Fáilte and Raidió Rí-Rá, all other radio stations(approx. 40 radio stations) within the Republic are required to have weekly Irish language programming. This has helped to create an environment where creativity and imagination flourish.

Technology & The Private Sector

Companies using Irish

In-store signage

Tesco Ireland, Superquinn and Woodies DIY have in-store Irish signage.


In October 2008, Bank of Ireland undertook the initiative to introduce an Irish language interface option on all of their 1,300 ATM machines around the country. Up until then, there were not many ATM with an Irish option.

Some Irish banks provide cheque books and ATM cards in both languages. Bank of Ireland issues Irish language cheque books while Permanent TSB can issue both Irish language cards and cheque books.

Former semistate companies

Several companies (mostly current and ex-semistate bodies) publish their yearly reports in both Irish and English. These include Irish telecom Eircom, national postal service An Post and the national electric power network ESB. Other companies have Irish language options on their websites. Examples of these include Bord Gáis, Meteor, and An Post. People corresponding with bodies like the Irish Revenue and the ESB can also send and receive correspondence in Irish or English.

Telecom comapanies

Meteor Mobile as well as having an Irish language option on their website, they also provide a voicemail option in Irish to their customers.

Gael Fón

In May 2008, the mobile phone maker Samsung said that it would create a mobile phone called the Samsung Tocco "Gael Fón" specifically for the Irish language market, which would include Irish language predictive text. Samsung has just introduced another mobile phone, the Samsung L700 which also has the "Gael Fón" option.

Irish-English dictionary on mobile

A company called Maithú Teoranta. has created an English-Irish dictionary called "Get the focal" that can be easily downloaded onto your mobile. See


Google includes 2 language links for, between English and Irish.

Facebook is currently beta testing an Irish language version of its site.


Several computer software products have the option of an Irish-language interface. Prominent examples include KDE,[1] Mozilla Firefox,[2] Mozilla Thunderbird,[2],[3] and Microsoft Windows XP,[4]

See also


External links


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