A seminar on a recently launched Government initiative to promote Irish in areas outside of the Gaeltacht will be held in Ennis this week -end. The seminar or ‘Tionól’ will take place in the Auburn Lodge Hotel on Friday and Saturday and is being hosted by Conradh na Gaeilge in association with An Clár as Gaeilge, the community partnership project set up to promote the language in County Clare.
The background to the seminar goes back to 2016, when the Department of Arts, Heritage and The Gaeltacht, through Foras na Gaeilge, invited expressions of interest from established community groups regarding the setting up of local Irish Networks or “Líonraí Gaeilge ” to promote the language across all sectors, Public, Private and Community outside the Gaeltacht areas. An Clár as Gaeilge, responded with a formal submission. Arising from this submission, the town was selected to become a “Baile Líonra Gaeilge “, one of only three in the Country, the other two being Clodalkin and Loughrea, together with two centres in Northern Ireland. A formal structure was set up to develop the concepts under a series of headings and Foras na Gaeilge was instructed by the Department to co-ordinate the development work, which has been ongoing since.
In early 2018, the then Minister of State for Irish and Gaeltacht Affairs, Joe McHugh, T.D., launched the National Programme for Language Development Plans for the Gaeltacht regions, and selected regions outside, as part of Project Ireland 2040. Ennis was formally nominated to be one of the locations chosen outside of the Gaeltacht regions. The Minister also outlined a funding proposal for the Programme of €13 million to support Irish Language Networks and Gaeltacht Service Towns through the development of language and culture hubs across the country with a flagship centre to support Irish language speakers in Dublin.
Part of this funding was an allocation of €0.5 million for each of the three Irish Language Network Towns to establish a centrally located administrative hub, to co-ordinate the various aspects of the Language Development Plan. There was also provision to fund the employment of a Language Development Officer for each centre.
This is a significant achievement for Ennis and is a recognition of the work over the past 25 years to promote the use of Irish as an everyday language. The success of the Gaelscoil and the Gaelcholáiste together with events such as Féile na hInse, Seachtain na Gaeilge, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann and a number of awards in the National Glór na nGael Competition have all focused National attention on Ennis as a town at the forefront of Irish Language Development.
The Tionól this week-end is being held to show how Irish has developed in the town in the past 40 years, what are the challenges going forward and how the ‘Baile Líonra Gaeilge’
concept is designed to further develop the promotion of Irish in the everyday life of the town. Guest speakers will include Dr. Eilís Ní Dheá, who is Lecturer in Irish Language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College Limerick. She has written extensively on the history of the Language in County Clare from the 18th Century to the present day and is regarded as an authority on the literary heritage of the County in those years. She will explore some of the challenges facing Irish as a spoken language in the Ireland of the 21st century and how we must learn from past experiences to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.
Also speaking will be Mait Ó Brádaigh, the Education Officer with COGG, the National Council for Gaeltacht and Irish-medium Education. As a former Gaelscoil Principal, he has wide experience of language planning and has contributed to Language Development Plans for several Gaeltacht regions. At present, he is consultant to the Ennis Líonra Team in compiling a Language Development Plan for Ennis and its environs. He will be outlining the concept of a ‘Baile Líonra’, and how the town should best position itself to benefit from this Govenment initiative.
The Tionól will be formally opened on Friday evening by Dónal Ó hAiniféin, Principal of Gaelscoil Mhíchíl Cíosóg in Ennis and Cathaoirleach of the Ennis Líonra Team. This will be followed by an illustrated talk by Domhnall Ó Loingsigh on the development of Irish in Ennis since 1980, and the achievements that have place the town at the forefront of language development in the Country. After the guest speakers on Saturday, there will be an Open Forum where members of the public will be invited to participate.
“This is an ideal opportunity for people to discover what is being planned for the future of Irish in the County, and we would welcome all those with an interest in the language to avail of the chance be part of this future” said Dónal Ó hAiniféin, Cathaoirleach of Líonra na hInse. “The Plan that will be put together will be a roadmap for the development of Irish in Clare for the next generation” he concluded.
Full details on the Tionól programme are available from the offices of An Clár as Gaeilge at 065-6864474 or on www.anclarasgaeilge.net