The Irish language is ‘clearly in a vulnerable state’ – that’s the message from Údarás na Gaeltacht after the recent CSO report.
Almost 624,000 people say they spoke Irish daily within and outside the education system. This accounts for 33% of the Irish speaking population. 71,968 of the daily speakers used Irish outside the education system, a fall of 1,835 since 2016.
The number of people who indicated that they could speak Irish increased by 6% between 2016 and 2022 to 1,873,997.
The question on speaking Irish was expanded in Census 2022 with the addition of a section on the level of fluency. Of the 1,873,997 Irish speakers, 10% spoke the language very well with a further 32% speaking it well. A fifth of the Irish speakers in counties Galway and Donegal spoke the language very well, the highest percentage at county level recorded in the State.
Údarás na Gaeltachta held their monthly board meeting in Anagaire, Na Rosa today, as thousands are making their way to the Donegal Gaeltacht from every corner of Ireland for Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta, one of the major social and sporting events in the Gaeltacht calendar. On Friday, the Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta local committee met with the board of Údarás na Gaeltachta, who are among the event’s main sponsors.
Tomás Ó Síocháin, Údarás na Gaeltachta Chief Executive commented: “The halt of the precipitous decline in daily Irish speakers in the Gaeltacht which was evident in the 2016 Census is a positive development. However, further analysis of the figures is required, and we will investigate the possible reasons for a significant rise in the number of Irish speakers in some Gaeltacht areas, while other areas saw a decline. The Irish language is clearly in a vulnerable state in the Gaeltacht. But the figures provided today will serve as a useful starting-point and we believe that, in partnership with the Gaeltacht community and State organisations, we will be able to build on the good work currently being undertaken and that the results of that endeavour will be clearly apparent in the next Census figures.”
Údarás na Gaeltachta temporary chairperson, Mary Uí Chadhain stated on Friday: “It is fantastic to be here in Na Rosa for this very special weekend. Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta is an important event for the Gaeltacht community, as men and women come together for three days of sport, fun and camaraderie. The local committee had done tremendous work and the local GAA club, Naomh Muire, are to be commended for all they have done to ensure that this will be a fantastic event. It is wonderful to see the teams and their supporters arriving from Gaeltacht areas all over Ireland – we also extend a special welcome to those who are travelling here from outside the Gaeltacht; they add greatly to the competition, through their dedication to sport and to the Irish language. We wish them all the best of luck.”