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Clondalkin could be Dublin's 1st Official Gaeltacht

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Guest IsMise

A sprawling suburb of Dublin could become Ireland’s newest Gaeltacht area thanks to a bill which will create a new definition of what it is to be an official Irish-speaking region.

 

Labour TD Robert Dowds said that the approval of the draft bill gives Clondalkin a great opportunity to be designated as a Gaeltacht area “at a certain level”.

 

“One of the main aims of this bill is to create a new definition of what constitutes a Gaeltacht,” explains Dowds. “This will give areas outside of traditional gaeltachts a chance to be recognised should they fulfill certain criteria.”

Under the proposed legislation, the Gaeltacht will be based on linguistic criteria instead of on geographic areas. During last year’s presidential election, Michael D Higgins said that Clondalkin had a case to be recognised due to the number of Irish speakers living there.

 

Joe MacSuibhne has been principal of the local Irish-speaking secondary school Coláiste Chillian for the past eight years and strongly supports the idea of designating Clondalkin as a Gaeltacht area.

 

“We have been looking for something like this for years. Currently, there are about 1,500 students receiving their education through Irish in the area and are, therefore, fluent in the language,” he told TheJournal.ie this morning.

 

Language planning at community level will also be central to the new definition of the Gaeltacht. As well as MacSuibhne’s school, Clondalkin boasts two all-Irish primary schools, áras Chrónáin Irish Cultural Centre and a host of naíonraí (pre-schools).

 

“The benefits of being designated as a Gaeltacht area would greatly help here,” continued MacSuibhne. “I think it would help us in the promotion of the language in the school, as well as the town.”

 

Coláiste Chillian currently serves students from Clondalkin, Rathcoole, Inchicore and Ballyfermot.

 

“There are endless possibilities for the area if it is given the recognition for the number of Irish speakers here,” added MacSuibhne who has been teaching in Clondalkin for more than 20 years.

 

Even simple ideas around language development could create employment for students when they graduate, according to MacSuibhne.

 

Being designated as a Gaeltacht would encourage more local businesses to use Irish and to take on people who are fluent. An Irish-speaking till at local shops would be just one example.”

 

The decision to prioritise the drafting of the bill was welcomed by Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs Dinny McGinley yesterday.

 

The bill will also make amendments to the role and functions of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

 

Gaeltacht areas are currently restricted to parts of Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and two small villages in Meath.

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Even if this recognition didn't come with any grants, it would be a great boost to the moral of Irish speakers in Clondalkin, and would be an encouragement to other urban and rural areas to also achieve this distinction.

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Great, I remember hearing the same about Ballymun a year or two back though, TG4 even had a programme on about the possibility of a Ballymun Gaeltacht but nothing's happened yet even though there are quite a number of irish speakers and schools in the area.

 

Here's a discussion on a forum about it: http://www.irishgaelictranslator.com/translation/topic80463.html

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Guest Connolly

I thought a gaaeltacht area was one where in order to live there, you had to be able to speak irish?

 

I couldnt see that working in Clondalkin...

 

Anyway, this thing sounds like lip service. It appears to me that gaeltacht areas have been, and are being decimated. That enclave in wexford/waterford? for example.

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Guest Felix Rourke

Clondalkin's where I went to school. Definitely massive potential in the area for an Urban form of a Gaeltacht as there is a good deal of grass roots Irish Language activism. The main thing though is a concentration of young speakers in one area. The way to transfer the language from one associated only with education (and by default for teenagers; authority) is to bring it outside the school gates, and such a bill that would encourage it being heard around the town is the way to do this. There would be a few problems as ever to iron out - even though Irish language provision is good in some state/semi-state bodies the number who use these services is poor. The same problem may occur in a village setting, where people would still feel dwarfed and turn to the hegemonic culture. Promotion and visibility would be key, but simply waiting on local businesses to feel "encouraged" to use Irish is pointless, and therefore I'd share some of Connolly's reservation. Nonetheless it's a step in the right direction, as the actual Gaeltachtai are dying and a new form of them centred around schools in urban areas in the way forward.

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Guest Connolly

Clondalkin's where I went to school. Definitely massive potential in the area for an Urban form of a Gaeltacht as there is a good deal of grass roots Irish Language activism. The main thing though is a concentration of young speakers in one area. The way to transfer the language from one associated only with education (and by default for teenagers; authority) is to bring it outside the school gates, and such a bill that would encourage it being heard around the town is the way to do this. There would be a few problems as ever to iron out - even though Irish language provision is good in some state/semi-state bodies the number who use these services is poor. The same problem may occur in a village setting, where people would still feel dwarfed and turn to the hegemonic culture. Promotion and visibility would be key, but simply waiting on local businesses to feel "encouraged" to use Irish is pointless, and therefore I'd share some of Connolly's reservation. Nonetheless it's a step in the right direction, as the actual Gaeltachtai are dying and a new form of them centred around schools in urban areas in the way forward.

 

So what would transforming Clondalkin into a Gaeltacht area involve? How would people be encouraged to speak Irish in the 'village'?

 

Shop signage in irish? Road signs and markings in Irish?

 

I just cant see how it would work, or what difference labelling it a gaeltacht would do. It would be some battle thats for sure.

 

Would it not "dillute" the idea of a gaeltacht?

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Guest Felix Rourke

So what would transforming Clondalkin into a Gaeltacht area involve? How would people be encouraged to speak Irish in the 'village'?

 

Shop signage in irish? Road signs and markings in Irish?

 

I just cant see how it would work, or what difference labelling it a gaeltacht would do. It would be some battle thats for sure.

 

Would it not "dillute" the idea of a gaeltacht?

 

The chance that it may dilute the idea of a close-knit all-Irish speaking rural community idyll of the Gaeltacht I think is a chance worth taking, seeing as how there are more Irish speakers in areas like Clondalkin now than there are in say An Rinn in Waterford which you mentioned.

 

Some of the measures associated with creating Gaeltachtai i.e more signs and increased visibility of Irish may seem superficial, but for Irish speakers they are hugely symbolic and give them a confidence to speak the language in public.

 

Making the language visible in officialdom is undoing the work done by O'Connell and his utilitarian buddies who made it invisible in the realms of authority, by going into Irish speaking areas and refusing to speak the language.

 

In addition to the increased visibility, as mentioned in the article local small businesses ought to be 'encouraged' to adopt Irish signage and a till where Irish speakers can go. Local authorities under the official languages Act are already obligated to provide services in Irish, but being designated a Gaeltacht would make people more aware of using that service.

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