Cheerful voices and upbeat tunes tumble out of the half-door at 6 Dominick Street Upper, the bustling café space is filled with laughter and happy conversations. Born out of a love of Galway and its community, Plámás’ first year has seen them transform into recognisable coffee enthusiasts and advocates for the Irish language.
When this coffee and retail shop first opened their door in 2021, they were welcomed into Galway city’s coffee culture with open arms. Home to a little taste of all that makes Galway so special, everything from the yummy bakes and the house coffee that is roasted in Tuam, to the tote bags, beanies and gifts, has been supplied by Galway producers where possible. Decorating the café walls, Plámás has dedicated a space to display the stunning works by local photographers which is always worth keeping an eye on as you never know what snapshots of Galway city and county might be found here.
Driven by a dedication to their roots, Plámás set out to make a difference in sharing their love for the Irish language. They did this through engaging with their followers on social media and by offering each of their customers a 10c discount when ordering as Gaeilge. To help their non-Irish customers and those who might be a little rusty on pronunciation they added a little guide to their wall which thoughtfully explains how to say “Can I have a coffee please”. Everyone has the chance to save some money and practice their Irish - it’s a win-win!
For Ciarán MacChoncarraige, manager of Plámás, the motivation was simple; “Gaeilge has always been a normal part of my own life - I did my entire education through the language - and I was always surprised while growing up to learn about how uncommon it is for people to be confident speaking it. As the proverb goes, "Is beatha teanga í a labhairt’ (the life of a language is in the speaking), the more it's spoken day-to-day, the more confident people become, and the more likely we are to see other initiatives like this pop up. All in service of the preservation of the Irish language. Gaeilge isn't dead, far from it!”
Delighted to have an incentive to give people a reason to try to use the Irish they know, Ciarán is thrilled that their guests have been so eager to give ordering as Gaeilge a go; “It's been amazing to see an increased use of Gaeilge in the café.. Giving people the chance to use Irish in a bit more of a ‘normal’ context, something as simple as ordering their morning cappuccino, it really makes a difference and has been encouraging to say the least.”
Having been awarded the acclaimed Gradam Sheosaimh Uí Ógartaigh in the ‘Tourism & Hospitality’ Category, the team’s hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. Ciarán said; “Being recognised by the community as doing a good job for the language meant a great deal to all of us. It showed us that we were on the right path, like a bonus reward after all of the rewarding work.”
For anyone nervous about ordering as Gaeilge, Ciarán has some advice; “At the end of the day, no matter what your level, you should come in and give it a go - even if only to say the one sentence and get the discount. And also, you definitely have more Irish than you remember! Any little bit of practice helps and will make you less nervous to order i nGaeilge the next time!”
The café’s name Plámás, means to flatter as Gaeilge. It’s a word which captures the craic, mischief, sense of divilment and community spirit of Galway, making it the perfect name for this little café which puts people at the heart of everything they do. With so much in store for this little coffee shop in the year ahead we promise we’re not plámásing you when we tell you they really do want you to be a part of it.