A couple weeks ago I attended the Conradh na Gaeilge mobile seminar. It is an Irish establishment based on the importance of preserving the Irish language. It is a volunteer organization that was founded in 1983, and works to promote the Irish language in all aspects of life in Ireland, including areas such as legal and educational affairs, and the development of new media and services through the Irish language. They have 200 branches in Ireland all working to increase the spread of speaking Irish daily in every day life. Other organizations that work with them are An tOireachtas, (National Irish Language festival); Ógras (Youth organization of Conradh na Gaeilge); and Seachtain na Gaeilge (Internation Irish Language Festival).
According to Conradh na Gaeilge, the amount of people who can speak Irish over the age of 3 is 1,774,437 people. Also, 450,000 children between the ages of 5-18 in school speak Irish every day (mostly because they are in school). Outside of the education system, there are 77,185 people who claimed to speak Irish daily, while 110,642 people claimed to speak it weekly. Some other facts include that Irish is one of the oldest languages in the world, and could first be found being written in the fifth century. It is a Celtic language that is believed to have come to Ireland over 2,500 years ago. It is a language highly influenced by its Scandinavian roots, being that many of the first early settlers of Ireland were Vikings.
The decline of Irish began in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, around the time of the Penal Laws, were people were limited in speaking Irish. The status of Irish as a major language had dropped as an affect of people not being allowed to speak it. Society’s like Conradh na Gaeilge, thankfully, have been able to make improvements in Ireland’s use of the language, and start to spread it again.