The Irish language has had a fair share of ups and downs throughout its history.
If you’re learning the language now, or want to, you are part of such a positive force. At the same time, its hard to ignore negative aspects of its history.
First, the bad side
The 2002 census of Ireland told us that 62,157 fluent Irish speakers lived in the Gaeltacht regions at that time (the officially-recognized areas where the Irish language is to be found).
That is a shockingly small figure for a language. Meanwhile, many more thousands throughout Ireland say say can speak Irish. Even better, thousands of people throughout the world are interested in learning to speak Irish.
Why learning Irish means even more now
Believe it or not, Irish is experiencing quite a renaissance (both within Ireland and further afield). Learning this language makes you part of the new movement.
TG4 Irish Language Television
For one, TG4 television has established itself as a quality outlet of Irish programming for speakers and learners.
The station launched in 1996. It was politically sensitive, with many people seeing the cost of running a station as a waste of tax payers’ money.
Since then, it has been steadily asserting itself as a key influencer in the Irish language’s growth. I will venture as far as to say that TG4 laid the foundations of the native renewal of the language. Within the past five years, for example, TG4 has successfully obtained the exclusive rights to show sports matches. This lead to the general population switching on Irish language commentary.
Online Media and Communities
The Irish language has been found online since the early to mid 1990s. Five years ago, we were still struggling to have decent broadband access in our homes (heh, that’s still a problem in places!). As a learner, you now have a wealth of new media being streamed, including high quality video.
Again, you can watch TG4 television, listen to Raidió na Gaeltachta while you work (where Eoin was interviewed), and search YouTube for thousands of Irish language videos. Sites such as our sister site IrishGaelicTranslator.com are home to strong communities of those actively interested in speaking Irish.
Be Part of It! Learn to Speak Irish
If you have visited Dublin in the past couple of year and traveled around, you will have heard Irish language announcements in the Luas (tram). That’s just a small example of what is a bigger trend.
In Ireland, Irish is becoming better accepted in public contexts.
It’s normal for people to see Irish spoken on the television. It’s trendy for young people to speak the language in their circle of friends (this isn’t widespread – very far from it – but it is still of significance).
Irish language schools are as popular as ever.
Want to be part of this renaissance? Take our Bitesize Irish Gaelic free trial where you’ll be instantly be able to start taking part. Learn the most useful phrases in Irish. The trial is no-obligation.