Campaign to make Irish ‘living language’ in Letterkenny

A new campaign aimed at making the Irish language more visible throughout Letterkenny has been launched.

The offices of Líonra Leitir Ceanainn were opened on Castle Street on Monday, coinciding with the launch of the national Gaelphobal campaign.

It is a year since Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Jack Chambers announced that a language plan for Letterkenny had been approved, a move which gave it official status as a Gaeltacht Service Town.


Outlining what that means Language Planning Coordinator with Líonra Leitir Ceanainn, Bairbre UÍ Chathail, told the Donegal News it was about making Irish accessible to all citizens of Donegal.

“If you look around this town you will already see that the likes of Wet ‘n’ Wild, Wholegreen and Gildea’s Butchers have signs up in Irish and there are more and more people who are enjoying the opportunity to do their business through Irish. And that is really important because it makes Irish visible.

“Our job is to realise how vibrant the language is here and to build on that. We have the Gaelscoil, we have Coláiste Ailigh, we have a very strong Irish speaking population in and around the town and it is about bringing that group together and empowering them to do more together.”

It isn’t just locals who are embracing the language either, according to Bairbre UÍ Chathail. In light of Lettekenny’s growing multi-culturalism, Líonra Leitir Ceanainn recently ran classes for those who have moved to Donegal from overseas.

Comhordaitheoir Pleanála Teanga Bairbre Cahill.

“We had people from countries all over the world who hadn’t a word of Irish but who wanted to learn it because they wanted to be able to help their kids with homework,” said the Comhordaitheoir Pleanála Teanga.

“Our outreach is multi-cultural, it is not just for people who were born and bred here, it is for anyone with an interest in Irish and it is very much about how Irish belongs to the whole community.”


Líonra Leitir Ceanainn has two full-time staff – Bairbre UÍ Chathail and Pádraig Mac Congáil – based out of the new offices at Castle Street.

“It is a fantastic location because we are so visible here and that was what we needed, we needed to be visible in the heart of the town.”

Over the coming years Líonra Leitir Ceanainn will develop a plan which will encourage the use of the Irish language in the town. It will also focus on improving the experience of those from Gaeltacht areas when visiting Letterkenny.

The Harvey sisters, Rosin, Regina and Toni.

“We also have a responsibility to look after the needs of the Gaeltacht community who come here to do their business and to socialise,” said Bairbre. “It is really important that if they come here, they know where to go if they want a cafe where they can speak Irish or go into shop where Irish is spoken.

“It is important to families to be able to bring their kids in and see that Irish is a living vibrant language, it is not just for the classroom, it is not just for the Gaeltacht, it is everywhere.”

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