Galway has been recognised as a Gaeltacht Service Town and will receive €100,000 in funding to implement the new language plan over seven years!
Jack Chambers, TD, Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for Sport & the Gaeltacht announced last week that Galway City's Irish Language Plan has been approved - thus recognising Galway as a Gaeltacht Service Town! He also announced that an annual fund of €100,000 will be provided to support the implementation of this language plan over seven years.
The language plan demonstrates that Galway is of immense importance as a Gaeltacht Service Town because the city has a long-established reputation for the Irish language and is adjacent to the country's largest and strongest Gaeltacht area.
The city's language plan is a roadmap that is based on extensive consultation and reflects the aspirations of Galway residents. Research undertaken during the development of the city's language plan identified that 80% of people in Galway said they would like to use more Irish every day; 61% felt that the Gaeltacht was important to the Irish language in Galway and 66% strongly agreed that promoting the Irish language in the city is worthwhile.
Amongst some of the 36 measures, the language plan proposes the establishment of an Irish Language Cultural Centre in the city and recommends a calendar of Irish language events, some that are suitable for fluent speakers and others aimed at people with ‘cúpla focal' who want more opportunities to practice their Irish. Some innovative measures recommend the creation of an app for ongoing research on the use of Irish on the city's streets and another app to provide information about the city's Irish language services. The Galway City Irish Language Plan also recommends that the Irish language be given greater status within Galway City Council's Strategic Policy Committees
The result of all of this will be the provision of public, commercial and entertainment services that will benefit the city community and the Gaeltacht.
Cathaoirleach of Gaillimh le Gaeilge, Bernadette Mullarkey welcomed the announcement, saying “Cuireann Gaillimh le Gaeilge fáilte mhór roimh an bhfógra seo ón Aire Stáit inniu. Táimid ag súil go mór leis an bplean teanga do chathair na Gaillimhe a chur i bhfeidhm i gcomhpháirtíocht leis an gComhairle Cathrach agus lenár bpáirtithe leasamhara eile. We welcome the extra funding coming into the city for the benefit of the Irish language and we look forward to working closely with the three language planning areas surrounding the city, to maximise the combined investment in the language. This is an exciting time and another significant step in the right direction to ensure that the Irish language will always continue to remain of value and relevant to Galway’s future. It’s important that the Irish language remains central to the long-term cultural life of Galway City and we are confident that the implementation of this new language plan will safeguard our living culture, which is synonymous with Galway, over the longterm.”
The main aim of the plan, in line with Government policy, is to increase the use and communicative knowledge of Irish as a community language in Galway City on an incremental basis. The plan will strengthen Galway's status as an official bilingual city and draw public attention to the importance of having ‘Service through Irish’ available in the city, especially for those who wish to conduct their business in Irish in the public sector and in the private sector.
The plan outlines 36 measures to be implemented over the seven-year period under the stewardship of Gaillimh le Gaeilge in partnership with Galway City Council. An advisory group, representing the organisations and institutions associated with the roll-out of the 36 measures, will support the two lead partners in overseeing the day-to-day implementation of the plan.
A full-time Language Planning Executive is to be employed and the appointee will collaborate closely with Galway County Council and the Language Planning Executives responsible for other language plans in the areas closest to the city - namely, Bearna - Knocknacarra, East Galway and Eachréidh. The combined efforts of all four language plans will strengthen the status of the Irish language in the city and county.
In the coming months, Gaillimh le Gaeilge will begin the recruitment process to employ an Irish Language Planning Executive. The Plan will be officially launched in July 2021, if COVID-19 restrictions allow.