Campaign to create online cyber Gaeltacht under way

Online drive encourages use of Irish on social media with #TrasnaNadTonnta hashtag

A campaign encouraging Irish speakers abroad to post social media messages as Gaeilge got underway on Monday morning with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeting his support for the drive.

The campaign encourages learners and speakers to join the already well-established and growing Irish-speaking online community by tweeting in Irish using the #TrasnaNadTonnta hashtag.

The effort seeks to create an online cyber Gaeltacht for the week and by early on Monday, numerous tweets from as far afield as Nova Scotia, Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and beyond were posted.

Using the #TrasnaNadTonnta hashtag, Mr Varadkar wished the campaign well on Monday morning, tweeting: “Do na hÉireannaigh ar fad atá #TrasnanadTonnta, guím gach rath oraibh don bhliain amach romhainn, bliain speisialta don teanga, Bliain na Gaeilge @gaeilge2018”

The hashtag derives from the well-known Irish song Trasna na dTonnta (across the waves) and is an initiative of the Ireland Canada University Foundation (ICUF) which is resourced by the Irish government's Third Level Education Overseas scheme which provides funding for the teaching of Irish in foreign universities.

The fund was set up to promote and encourage goodwill for the language outside Ireland and to provide a platform from which the language can be showcased as an international language.

Speaking ahead of this year’s event, government chief whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language Joe McHugh, said the campaign gives a “great insight” into the work being done to promote Irish worldwide and gives people the chance to make new connections online.

“My department is currently supporting the teaching of Irish in over 40 third-level colleges abroad and the demand for those courses is increasing year on year,” Mr McHugh said.

“The language is also experiencing a boom on social media, and #TrasnaNadTonnta gives more people the chance to take part in debates about the language online, and indeed to connect with Ireland, some of them for the first time.”

Last year people in 30 different countries engaged in the campaign and Mr McHugh said he hopes to see an increase in that number this year.

“Over the coming week, therefore, we urge as many people as possible, around the globe, to tweet in Irish and use the hashtag #TrasnanadTonnta”, he said.

The #TrasnanadTonnta drive comes just a week after the #nílsécgl campaign highlighting negative attitudes encountered by Irish speakers went viral.

The campaign started by writer and teacher Ciara Ní É prompted Irish speakers to describe negative attitudes they have encountered while speaking the language and reached almost 1m unique users worldwide.