Can Gaeltacht schools be saved from extinction?
Education through Irish may be thriving – but the language is on life support in its traditional stronghold
Clodagh Ní Mhaoilchiaráin, principal of Ghaelscoil Bhaile Brigín. She says special needs children can flourish in gaelscoileanna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The Gaeltacht is facing a ‘linguistic crisis’, according to Bláthnaid Ní Ghréacháin, chief executive of Gaeloideachas. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Is the Gaeltacht facing extinction? The number of native speakers has been in decline for years, and a stark 2014 report warned that early exposure to English is damaging the standard of Irish among the Gaeltacht’s children. Some believe this could be the last generation of native Irish speakers.
Outside the Gaeltacht, however, Irish-medium Gaelscoileanna are thriving and don’t have enough places to meet demand.