2018 is Bliain na Gaeilge, the year of Irish Gaelic, as it marks 125 years since the Irish language revival and the founding of Conrah na Gaeilge, the Gaelic League. Events and creative activities are being organised across Ireland and internationally, to celebrate the language, and to encourage practice within Irish speaking communities worldwide.
So what happened 125 years ago? In 1892, Douglas Hyde made an address titled ‘The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland’, which lead to the founding of Conrah na Gaeilge in 1893. Now, the organisation acts as a democratic forum for the Irish speaking community, which works to promote the Irish language, both within Ireland itself, and globally.
At the moment, Irish lessons are compulsory in schools in Ireland until the age of 18. But that doesn’t mean that Irish studies stop there.
The Fullbright Commission in Ireland stated that there’s an increase in American students studying Irish for reasons of heritage, linguistics, and the desire to study literature and poetry that’s never been translated into English.
Irish is advancing as a business language as well as in the academic field. Fiontar, an interdisciplinary institution, was set up in 1993 with the aim of teaching finance, computing and enterprise solely in Irish, which has been key in the development of online language databases and dictionaries for English-Irish translation. Irish has also recently been launched on the popular language learning app, Duolingo.
All of this goes to show that Irish is certainly not a dying language. Instead, it is a language with a growing future on an international business scale.
Ireland has been with the European Union since 1973, and Irish Gaelic was made the 21st official language of the EU in 2005. Since then, it has been given ‘derogation’ status, which means that EU bodies do not need to provide translation into or from Irish Gaelic, but this looks set to change. If the EU institutions have sufficient translation capability by June 2021, Irish will become an official working language of the EU in 2022 – as long as the demand for translation can be met with the recruitment of Irish linguists. The Irish language is steeped in rich history and culture, and looks set to take an international role in the coming years.
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