Irish language facing decline in Gaeltacht communities

Homes in the Ranafast area of County Donegal Image copyright © Joseph Mischyshyn/CC Geograph
Image caption A Gaeltacht area in County Donegal, where Irish is the main spoken language

New research suggests Irish will no longer be the primary language in any Gaeltacht community in ten years.

The report was commissioned by Údarás na Gaeltachta, the body which oversees economic development in Irish-speaking areas of the Republic of Ireland.

It found that spoken Irish in the Gaeltacht - areas where the bulk of the population speak the language - is becoming confined to academic settings.

The research is based on Irish census figures for 2006 and 2011.

It said that social use of Irish in the Gaeltacht is declining at an even more rapid rate than predicted in their last report in 2007.

Of the 155 electoral divisions in the Gaeltacht, only 21 are communities where Irish is spoken on a daily basis by 67% or more of the population.

'Worrying decline'

Image copyright © Suzanne Mischyshyn/CC Geograph
Image caption The report found that social use of Irish in the Gaeltacht is in decline

67% is regarded as a tipping point for language survival.

Some elements of the recommendations are highly critical of the Irish State's approach to the language in the Gaeltacht.

The Gaeltacht is spread across seven separate areas of the Republic of Ireland, covering parts of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Meath and Waterford.

Rónán Ó Domhnaill, the Irish language commissioner, said the reports show how difficult it is to keep Irish alive in Gaeltacht areas despite efforts by community members.

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