Irish language community in Carntogher continues to flourish
Foras na Gaeilge has facilitated the investment of over €4.1 million to date in the language planning process in eight areas that have recently received official recognition for the developments in their Irish language communities. These communities across the country have received this recognition and have been provided state support and funding in order to draft and implement language plans to further enhance the use of the Irish language in their area.
Thirty years ago, following a visit to the Shaws Road in West Belfast to see the fruits of the movement started by Séamus Mac Seáin and Seán Mac Seáin, among others, twenty years earlier, a small group of people in Carntogher decided to plant the seed for the revival of the Irish language as the spoken language of the area.
A new nationwide all-island marketing campaign featuring seven Irish language communities on the island of Ireland shines a light on the Carntogher community near Maghera in County Derry. A video published online this week features a wide range of members, young and old, of the community and focuses on youth activities, Irish medium education in the area, sport, culture, the environment and business in the Irish speaking community of the area.
In 1992 an Irish preschool, Naíscoil Charn Tóchair, the first rural Irish-medium preschool in Ireland outside of the Gaeltacht, was founded by Carntogher Community Association on the grounds of the local Slaughtneil Emmets GAA club. The following year parents and others went on to set up Bunscoil Lúraigh, the first rural Irish-medium primary school outside of the Gaeltacht. Thirty years on there is now a strong and growing Irish speaking community and a wonderful infrastructure.
Recent years have seen the foundation of an Irish medium secondary school, Gaelcholáiste Dhoire. Now in its seventh year, the school’s first cohort of pupils have just completed their second level education. Gaelcholáiste Dhoire continues its upwards trajectory and in September 2022 will boast over 300 pupils.
In the last few years the Carntogher Community Association has continued to grow from strength to strength with the foundation of several new businesses in media and craft production, as well as Spraoi, a brand new outdoor pursuits company facilitating activities at the nearby Drumnaph Nature Reserve to address the huge demand from Irish-medium schools and community groups for Irish language activities.
The bilingual community continues to blossom with exciting plans for the year ahead as they celebrate three decades of the Irish language revival in their small rural area. In June 2022 Carntogher Community Association appointed Joe Ó Dochartaigh as language planning officer to co-ordinate the implementation of the Irish language plan developed as part of the Irish language network scheme.
Niall Ó Catháin from Carnogher Community Association said, “Although Carntogher Community Association has been promoting Irish language re-instatement within the community for nearly thirty years, this seven-year project and the status it brings will allow us to take this to an altogether different level. It will afford us the opportunity to increase the use and fluency of the language within our community at every level from those starting out to learn the language through to families taking a decision to raise their children through Irish. It will allow us to support the growing numbers of children and young people who are attending Irish-medium education and build the critical mass of young people in particular who use Irish every day as their first language. It will also increase awareness of the language revival throughout the community so that everyone understands and can support us becoming a truly bilingual community over the coming generations.
Foras na Gaeilge CEO, Seán Ó Coinn, said, “Foras na Gaeilge is excited to be launching our new awareness campaign which will shine a spotlight on the great initiatives being undertaken in Irish language communities across the country. These communities have worked tirelessly to develop language plans that will strengthen the use of the Irish language in their communities in the months and years to come. We are also delighted that to date there are eight areas that have successfully had their language plans approved and we look forward to co-operating with them and assisting them in implementing these plans over the next seven years. At present we anticipate that a further twenty areas currently receiving support through the flagship Foras na Gaeilge Irish Language Networks Development Scheme will be in a position to work towards achieving this recognition through developing their own language plans in the future.”