• August 15, 2015


In a report issued earlier this month The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the state think-tank, examined the attitudes towards the Irish Language in both states in Ireland. Drawing mainly on the 2013 Irish Language Survey involving a sample of 1,215 people over the age of 18 in the Twenty-Six Counties and 1,045 people in the Six Counties. It found that in the Twenty-Six Counties, 64 per cent of those surveyed believed Ireland would lose its identity without the language, while only 33 per cent believed the same in the Six Counties, with Catholics there more likely to have a favourable view of Irish.

The study also found that many people who are positive about the language don’t actively speak it in their daily lives, which is similar to the experience seen in Wales. People in the Twenty-Six Counties learnt Irish ‘to pass exams’ whereas in the Six Counties people are more are passionate about their native tongue for reasons of identity and are more likely to speak the language for its own sake, indicating that issues around identity and national identity are more prevalent there. These stark cross-border findings clearly demonstrate this.

Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, chief executive of Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language throughout Ireland north and south, which commissioned the research, said: ‘The very positive attitudes throughout the general population confirm our own experience and the very real desire for Irish-medium education cannot be ignored.’

The study also looked at people’s views on how to sustain and promote the Irish language with the vast majority urging a focus on teaching for school children. However, the report’s co-author Dr Merike Darmody stated that the results showed the use of Irish, and attitudes to it, were rooted in three domains: the education system, the family and the wider community. Dr Darmody went on to say that, ‘Despite the language policy development in recent decades, without the active engagement from people with regard to learning the language and using it in a variety of social contexts, it is hard to see how the Irish language can flourish in the future.’


(This item for Celtic News submitted by the Irish branch)

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League



The Celtic League was established in 1961and has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues



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