A LANGUAGE plan for the North Donegal Gaeltacht, encompassing Downings, Fanad, Termon, Creeslough, Gleann Domhain and Gleann Bhairr, has been prepared and will be sent to Údarás na Gaeltachta next Friday.
Meetings were held in Downings and Fanad on Monday night followed by a final meeting in Termon on Wednesday to make the public aware of the plan and get feedback on its aims and policies. If approved by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht a language officer will be appointed for the six areas.
Fanad’s Colm Mac Fhionnghaile, a Teaching Fellow at Dublin City University, has been working on the plan since November of last year. Speaking at an information meeting in Craoibhin Community Centre Mr Mac Fhionnghaile explained that the main aim of the plan is to stimulate Irish among the youngest members of the community.
He said: “You have to start at the youngest level. You have to try as much as possible to place Irish inside the house first and spread out from there. What I learned over the summer is that schools are under an awful lot of pressure to try and teach children Irish so we are hoping with this to give more supports to parents and to give more supports to extracurricular activities and to normalise it so people speak outside of the classroom as well. Hopefully it will help in the classroom and secondly parents and guardians.”
The plan includes policies on after school clubs, Irish summer camps in the area, Irish youth clubs in the area, parent and toddler groups for the public, information sessions and workshops for parents of schoolchildren and classes for the public, especially conversational classes. Hundreds of surveys were sent out to households last year across the six areas to get information for the plan and 54 children were surveyed across six primary schools and 72 secondary school pupils.
Mr Mac Fhionnghaile also met with principals, teachers and business owners in the community during the summer.
Across the six areas there is a population of 2,818 and 21 per cent of this population consider themselves daily Irish speakers.
There is stronger and weaker parts, for example Rosguill would be the strongest area in this Gaeltacht and has approximately a 30 per cent rate of Irish speakers. On the other end of the scale Gleann Bhairr would be the weakest area where just six per cent of the population class themselves as daily Irish speakers.
The North Donegal Gaeltacht plan is part of a larger language planning policy for all Gaeltacht regions, 26 in total, throughout the country. It follows a decision taken by the Government in 2010 to adopt a 20 year strategy for Irish whereby any Gaeltacht area that wished to retain its status had to draw up a plan. The Gaeltacht area boundaries will be drawn again in terms of language use as opposed to traditional geographic areas.
“It’s about trying to grow the amount of speakers as opposed to segregating and putting more money into the small pockets that still do speak Irish, that’s the general principal behind these plans all over the country,” explained Mr Mac Fhionnghaile.
“We want to raise awareness about the bilingual benefits of children of school going age. Minority languages in general are under extreme pressure and need to be preserved.”
If this plan is approved by the Department the areas will receive funding of almost €850,000 over the seven year period, with an initial grant of €103,885 in the first year. Once approved the group will be able to appoint a language officer and an official launch of the plan will take place.
The draft plan must be submitted to Údarás na Gaeltachta by next Friday so the North Donegal Gaeltacht Committee is appealing to members of the public to read the document and get in contact if they have any thoughts.
Hard copies of the plan are available at locations across the six areas including schools and Craoibhin Community Centre in Termon. Colm can also be contacted with any suggestions or thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 2:05 pm November 9, 2018