In the Conradh na Gaeilge seminar, we learned a brief history of the organization and how to say a few basic phrases in Irish. I struggled quite a bit with the phrases, as it is not obvious by looking at the word exactly how it will be said and the pronunciations are unlike any language I have learned before. I did enjoy the seminar though, especially because I was not alone in struggling.
The Irish language declined during the 16th and 17th century. This can be accredited to plantations, the Williamite War, and the enacting of the penal laws. Though much of the rural population used Irish as their language, more people took up English, especially during and after the Great Famine. English was also necessary for administrative and legal affairs. The Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language was established in 1876. This gained recognition for the Irish language in the education system. Conradh na Gaeilge was set up in 1893, which has started a mass movement of support for the language, which continues today.
Presently, Conradh na Gaeilge’s main areas of work are through advocacy, education, empowering communities, entertainment/festivals, raising awareness, and representation. The mission statement of Conradh na Gaeilge reads “to reinstate Irish as the common language of Ireland.” In a 2011 census, 40.6% of the population claimed to be able to speak Irish. This was a 7.1% increase since the 2006 census. 1.8% of the population speaks Irish on a daily basis. Of those learning Irish in schools, 87% did so on a daily basis. All of these statistics show that the prevalence of the Irish language is increasing.
Conradh na Gaeilge has over 200 branches and all members work hard to promote the use of Irish within their own communities. This affects every aspect of life in Ireland, including legal work, educational affairs, and the development of new media and services. Conradh na Gaeilge even has their own radio station. With the continued work of Conradh na Gaeilge and all of its members, perhaps someday their mission statement will be completed.
Slán go fóill!
“Facts and Figures.” Info. Conradh Na Gaeilge, 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.
“What Does Conradh Na Gaeilge Do?” Info. Conradh Na Gaeilge, 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.