Saturday, March 31, 2012

Number of Irish speakers up by 7.1%

(March 30, 2012)
Irish Times via Gaelport

The Census recorded a 7.1 per cent increase in the number of self-declared Irish speakers.

Some 1.77 million people said they could speak Irish – 41.4 per cent of respondents.

More women than men answered “yes” when asked if they could speak Irish. Almost 45 per cent of women said they could speak Irish compared with almost 38 per cent of men. The Central Statistics Office noted that more women than men consistently identified themselves as being able to speak Irish.

Almost 31 per cent of 10-19-year- olds said they could not speak Irish. That increased to 36 per cent for 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds.

Of the 1.77 million who said they could speak Irish, just 1.8 per cent said they spoke it daily outside the education system.

This was an increase of 5,037 people since the previous census. A further 2.6 per cent said they spoke it weekly while 12.2 per cent spoke it within the education system.

Some 14.3 per cent said they spoke it less often – this was an increase of 27,139 and was the largest increase of all categories.

One in four said they never spoke Irish.

Of the 77,185 people who spoke Irish daily, outside the classroom, one in three lived in Gaeltacht areas.

The census recorded a 5.2 per cent increase in the Gaeltacht population. Some 96,628 people were living in Gaeltacht areas on census night 2011 compared with 91,862 in 2006.

Some 68.5 per cent of Gaeltacht dwellers said they could speak Irish and 24 per cent said they spoke it daily, outside the education system. This was an increase of 2.9 per cent on the number of daily Irish speakers in 2006. However, the number of Gaeltacht dwellers who said they spoke Irish less than weekly increased by 6.6 per cent.

The findings were welcomed by Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley. He said the increase in the number of people able to speak Irish was a positive development in terms of the 20-year strategy for the Irish language.

“The increase in the number of daily Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas is good news, particularly since the 20-year strategy has set a target of a 25 per cent increase in this area over its lifetime,” said Mr McGinley.

The Irish Times/This is Ireland, Census 2011 - Alison Healy

RTÉ News: Irish is third most used language - Census

(March 30, 2012)

Nearly 82,600 people (1.8% of the population) speak Irish every day outside of school according to the first definitive results of the 2011 Census.
This makes it the third most used language in the country.

The Census figures, released by the CSO today, show that 119,526 of people in Ireland speak Polish at home while 56,430 speak French.

Meanwhile, 35% of people in Gaeltacht areas said they spoke Irish on a daily basis outside of the education system.

In addition to Irish and other languages, the Census recorded the standard of English among those who spoke foreign languages.

It found that those from Denmark had the highest ability, while people from Lithuania had the lowest.

Today's publication is the first of 13 reports on the Census results that will be published between now and the end of the year.

More at RTÉ News.

BBC News: Can foreign speakers help the Irish language survive?

(March 16, 2012)

For over a century, activists have been trying to save the Irish language. Can foreign speakers help keep it alive?

At a dimly-lit bar in Washington DC, a smattering of professionals gathered around a table to drink beer and speak Irish, with levels of varying success.

They all represented current or former students of Ronan Connolly's Irish language classes. Mr Connolly, an Irish native, has been teaching evening Irish classes for more than two years.

The students live thousands of miles away from Ireland. Some haven't visited in years, if at all. The group is not much bigger than a rambunctious family dinner party. Their language skills vary from fluent to very basic. But at a time when scholars are pondering the fate of the Irish language, could these American students play any role in its revival?

Losing strategy

Despite much effort to revitalize Irish, some activists are frustrated.

"Irish is surviving as opposed to thriving." says Mait Ó Brádaigh, a principal of an Irish language immersion school in Ireland's Galway County. As early as 1366, there have been records of Irish language under attack, and there has been a formal group in place devoted to preserving the language since 1893. But despite more than 100 years of effort, the campaign to save Irish has met with limited success, while other Celtic languages have made more progress.

More at BBC News.

A couple random news items

Obama brings Moneygall cousin to his local for a pint (March 19, 2012)

Eat your hearts out, politicians of the world. An accountant and a pub-owner from Moneygall, Co Offaly, spent close to an hour with the most powerful man on earth on St Patrick’s Day. Henry Healy – a distant cousin of Mr Obama’s – and Ollie Hayes arrived at the White House at 11.30am on Saturday for a tour of the West Wing, including the Oval Office, while the president worked elsewhere. When they met Barack Obama at the diplomatic entrance, the Irishmen presented him with a Moneygall soccer jersey emblazoned with “2012 Is Féidir Linn”.

Students develop app to help decipher 'Cork as she is spoken' (March 23, 2012)

"Included are 'You’re about as useful as a Kerryman with a hurley', 'Go away you langer' and 'Shove Wesht' – meaning move over."