seems to be a new spirit developing in people with a new found appreciation
for heritage, culture and humanity.
reasons to learn Irish include:
the National Language of Ireland: Irish is the first official language
of the Republic of Ireland and has recently gained official recognition
in the six counties of Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement.
Cultural Identity of the Irish people: The most important distinguishing
characteristics of a culture are usually contained within its language.
Irish thus plays a paramount role in the Irish national cultural identity
and is priceless repository of all that is truly Irish.
Increase in the number of Irish speakers: The1996 census of Ireland
showed that 1,095,830 people, 32% of the Irish adults, claimed to be
able to speak Irish. No official count exists of how many people outside
Ireland can speak Irish, but estimates range as high as 2 to 3 million.
New Irish Renaissance: Irish is currently going through a major
renaissance and more people are able to speak and write Irish today
than have been able to for over 150 years. More books, newspapers and
magazines have been published in Irish in the past century than in the
entire history of the language.
now in the mass media age: Irish language broadcasts can now be
heard daily from radio stations such as Raidió na Gaeltachta,
and Raidió na Lifé. In 1996 the Irish language television
station, Teilifís na Gaeilge, (TG4),started broadcasting news,
documentaries, children's shows and even soap operas as Gaeilge.
in the computer age: The ancient tongue of the Gaels has also entered
the computer age and numerous Irish websites, chat rooms, and even online
language courses like www.Gaeltalk.net now exist.
heritage for up to 70 million people from the Irish Diaspora: Official
estimates indicate that there are more than 70 million people of Irish
descent around the world. In the 1990 US census, 40 million people described
themselves as Irish. Irish is a valuable cultural link in the shared
history of all these groups.
of meaning for Irish surnames, personal names and place names: Irish
place names, surnames and personal names are well established throughout
the world and are not just limited to Ireland itself. The Irish language
provides the key to understanding the rich, fascinating milieu of Irish
heraldry, genealogy and place names.
to other Celtic Languages and English: Irish is the oldest surviving
Celtic language and as such is a valuable resource and guide to the
other Celtic languages. Irish is the father of two other Celtic languages,
Scots Gaelic and Manx, to which it remains extremely closely related.
Irish is a valuable source of many English words and expressions such
as: whiskey, loch, glen, slew, smithereens, you're welcome, kibosh,
and even our furry feline friend the cat owes its name to Irish.
Irish literature, folklore and proverbs: Irish is the only language
north of the Alps to have any extensive surviving ancient and medieval
literature and as such it is studied at all major universities through
out Europe and even as far off as North America and Australia. Ireland
has the world's largest collection of folklore and proverbs of which
the vast majority is only available in Irish.
Increase in all Irish medium primary and secondary schools: All
Irish primary and secondary schools are springing up across Ireland
and an agreement on designating four Irish language universities is
now in place.
Ireland's need to maintain its identity in the EU: Ireland's recent
entry into the EU has highlighted Ireland's need to maintain its unique
identity through its language. Irish is becoming more and more a part
of the Irish national identity as well as gaining increasing popularity
with both Irish and non-Irish abroad.
le cúnamh Dé, (with God's help), no one will even need
to ask: why learn Irish?
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