Good news on the Líofa 2015 campaign launched last September by the regional culture minister in the North of Ireland, Carál Ní Chuilín, which encourages further Irish language learning and use. In one year of operation Líofa has not just met but more than doubled all its targets. The campaign has become particularly noteworthy for the high profile support it has attracted from the fields of politics and sports as well as the northern civil service.
In related news the regional education minister, John O’Dowd, has announced an extra 280,000 euros in funding for Irish-speaking communities and citizens in the north-east of the country in response to high public demand. From a report by the bilingual Inside Ireland:
“Stormont Education Minister John O’Dowd has launched almost a quarter of a million pound funding scheme for programmes that will encourage children, parents and the wider community to develop their Irish language skills.
The programme will offer ‘additional resources’ to existing Extended School groups who wish to apply for funding to run programmes that will increase access to Irish.
The Minister said:
“I am making £230,000 available this year, with the intention of continuing the funding for the next two years. This will depend on the interest shown and the progress that is made on the ground. The programme will support my Department’s overarching goal of raising standards for all, closing the performance gap and increasing access and equity. Funding will also be provided to support programmes aimed at communities who wish to develop Irish language skills that can be more widely used at home or in the workplace.”
This programme will link closely with the Líofa initiative…
In the past year over 2,700 people have signed up to become fluent in Irish.”
Meanwhile our Celtic neighbours in the Isle of Man are staging the popular annual Cooish festival, a celebration of the shared Gaelic languages and cultures of Mann, Ireland and Scotland which includes the Manx Language Week initiative. From IoM Today:
“On Sunday, the week-long Cooish festival returns with yet another full and inviting programme of talks, classes and music.
‘It is a celebration of Manx language and culture,’ explained Dr Breesha Maddrell, of the Manx Heritage Foundation. ‘It’s so important as it’s an opportunity for speakers of all levels to come together, to use the language, enjoy the culture and celebrate one of the really unique ways to belong to this island.’
She concluded: ‘This year’s Cooish is fresh and modern, showing the importance of what is happening now and in the future as well as what has happened in the past. It is a way of enjoying what makes the Isle of Man the Isle of Man. Our independent spirit is reflected in a language which grows in strength each year and a vibrant culture which is great fun to be involved with and wonderful just to sit back and enjoy at concerts and festivals.’”
From the Manx language development officer for the Manx Heritage Foundation, Adrian Cain:
” ‘The number of people wanting to learn Manx continues to grow whilst there is a strong interest in the revival of the language from throughout the world. This success story seems to generate its own momentum leading to greater interest in the language and an increase in uptake and numbers going on to high levels of fluency: it’s a success story that we can all be proud of.’
Some of Adrian’s current students have started to learn Manx for a variety of reasons ranging from ‘it is part of the island’s cultural heritage’, ‘I want to encourage my children to be aware of the language and culture, and ‘Gaelic fluency boosts cultural self-confidence and sense of identity’ to ‘bilingualism is a great asset’, ‘to exercise my brain’ and ‘to make friends and a new social circle’.”