Engaging discussions took place in Letterkenny this week to plan how local businesses can increase their use and promotion of the Irish language.
Letterkenny is set to gain new investment to develop and deliver an Irish Language Plan as a Gaeltacht Services Town over the next seven years. The plan aims to get the entire community involved to encourage a positive approach to Irish in everyday life.
Líonra Leitir Ceanainn, the body appointed to draft the language plan, held an open event on Wednesday 5th June to gather input from local businesses.
Meeting facilitator Ursula Ní Shabhaois from Cinnteacht presented statistics showing how Irish language makes a positive impact on the economy and is a valued skill among staff. She highlighted how Irish language use in customer service and on written signs, packaging and media can give a business an added interest and edge, both with local customers and with international clients.
The meeting heard from Alannah McGhee, a Letterkenny-based entrepreneur who co-founded the Beanantees clothing company. The growing business adds modern Irish slogans to t-shirts, jumpers and accessories. Using Irish as a unique selling point, the Beanantees brand is growing in popularity among the diaspora worldwide.
Small and simple approaches were shared as examples of how to influence positive habits towards Irish.
Some ideas raised for the business section of Letterkenny’s Irish Language Plan included encouraging Irish-speaking staff to wear a Fáinne badge and placing signs in businesses to say that services can be provided as Gaeilge.
Meeting attendees explored ideas to possibly appoint Irish language champions in the community and to work towards an awards ceremony recognising businesses who use Irish.
Making everyday Irish visible and accessible to everyone was suggested as an important goal. Optional Irish training for business staff and more Ciorcal Comhrá conversation groups around town were also discussed.
The Language Plan, when approved, will provide funding to employ an Irish Language Development Officer in Letterkenny to oversee the project and support businesses in addition to other projects.
The meeting highlighted the many resources already available to businesses who want to enhance the presence of the language. These include bilingual posters and signage, dictionary books and the Scéim Tacaíochta Gnó by Foras na Gaeilge, which part-funds signage, packaging, websites and printed marketing material that promote Irish.
Some attendees at the meeting suggested that the plan should make funding applications as easy and straightforward as possible to encourage more businesses to come on board.
Líonra Leitir Ceanainn Chairperson Bairbre Uí Chathail said Wednesday’s meeting was a positive step towards developing a plan which caters to the needs of the community.
Ms Uí Cathail said: “There are lots of possibilities with what you can do with Irish and there is a lot of energy today. Businesses see that Irish brings great value, brings something different and shows creativity.”
Ms Uí Cathail added that “the time is now” to harness positive attitudes towards Irish. She encouraged local business owners to contact the Líonra to find out how they can contribute to the plan or to start promoting more Irish usage today.
She said: “I think there is a real uplift in terms of people’s attitude to the Irish language. We are hitting this at the right time. We would encourage businesses to get involved, see the potential that is there and to get in touch with us and avail of the opportunities and support that is there from Foras na Gaeilge. We will do everything we can to help them make Irish a part of their daily life.”
Further events will be held this summer to gather public insights for the Letterkenny Irish Language Plan.
Visit https://www.lionraleitirceanainn.ie/ to find out more about the Letterkenny Irish Language Plan.
For more information or to contribute ideas, contact Ursula Ní Shabhaois, Cinnteacht by email firstname.lastname@example.org