Campaign for Twitter messages in Irish hopes to beat record

Taoiseach lends support to #TrasnaNadTonnta campaign

Seán Kyne TD, Minister of State for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands with Julian de Spáinn, Conradh na Gaeilge, writer and poet Ciara Ní É, Paula Melvin, Fulbright Commission of Ireland and James Kelly, Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF). Photograph:  Conor McCabe Photography

Seán Kyne TD, Minister of State for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands with Julian de Spáinn, Conradh na Gaeilge, writer and poet Ciara Ní É, Paula Melvin, Fulbright Commission of Ireland and James Kelly, Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF). Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

 

A campaign encouraging social media users across the world to post messages in Irish got under way on Monday with organisers hoping to break records set in previous years.

The campaign, which encourages the public to tweet in Irish at home and abroad using the #TrasnaNadTonnta hashtag, was launched in Dublin by Minister of State for Gaeilge, the Gaeltacht and the Islands Seán Kyne.

The effort seeks to create an online cyber Gaeltacht for the week and by early on Monday, tweets were posted from locations including Toronto, Ohio, Cairo, Birmingham and Newfoundland.

A total of 10,663 tweets were sent with the hashtag #TrasnaNadTonnta from more than 80 countries in 2018 and organisers are hoping to beat that record this week.

Using the #TrasnaNadTonnta hashtag, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted his support saying “Tús íontach ag #TrasnaNadTonnta i mbliana le seoladh ag @TwitterDublin – go n-éirí libh @Trasna19!”.

The #TrasnaNadTonnta campaign name is derived from the traditional Irish song Trasna na dTonnta (across the waves) which tells the story of a traveller and his excitement at the prospect of returning home to Ireland.

It is an initiative of the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) which is resourced by an Irish government scheme aimed at strengthening cultural and academic links between the two countries.

ICUF’s Irish language programme supports the development of Irish in Canada. Language instructors are appointed each year to teach Irish in universities and communities.

Tweet

Speaking at the event which was launched at Twitter’s Dublin HQ, James Kelly, CEO of ICUF, said he had tried to find a way to facilitate people who participated in the foundation’s language programme and who wished to use their Irish once the course had finished.

“Like millions of people on this island and around the world, I have a passion for the Irish language. It means a lot to me but unlike those ...who can speak the language fluently, it is not easy for me or for many people to engage with the language,” he said.

“We can’t just dip into a conversation. This is a challenge that all minority languages face. When there is a language like English around that everyone can slip into so easily, minority languages can suffer.”

He said technology offers an opportunity to aid in efforts at learning and “brings great hope for the future of minority languages.”

Mr Kelly said “the penny dropped” after he heard his children singing Trasna na dTonnta.

“The history of Ireland has been about leaving. There are lots of songs and stories and dirges about people leaving and never coming back. But, Trasna na dTonnta is a song about coming back and connecting back.”

Citing the lines:

“Geal é Mo Chroí Agus Geal í an Ghrian (Bright is my heart and bright is the sun)

Geal bheith ag filleadh go hÉirinn! (Happy to be returning to Ireland!)

Mr Kelly said he “very quickly realised” the hashtag could be used to help build a community and an online Gaeltacht.

“What we have is this ancient impulse to connect and a 21st century way of doing it,” he added.

The campaign, which runs until Friday, was launched as it emerged that the 3 millionth tweet in Irish was posted to the social network on January 30th.

The tweet in question was sent by journalist Aindriú de Paor (@aindriudepaor) in which he highlighted a radio report on the ongoing nurses dispute.

For more information about #TrasnaNadTonnta visit: trasnanadtonnta.ie