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GAA legend: Irish is back in vogue

MICHEAL O Muircheartaigh has told how he believes the Irish language has been revived by the recession.

The legendary GAA commentator, who retired last year after 62 years of broadcasting, is one of the country's most prominent supporters of the language and spends much of his time spearheading community-led efforts to revive the tongue.

Earlier this year, the Government announced a 20-year strategy to increase the number of regular speakers from 87,000 to 250,000.

But the 80-year-old Kerry native, who grew up speaking Irish on the Dingle Peninsula, believes that target could be reached in just 10 years.

"The Irish language is stronger now than it's been in a long time and I'm very hopeful for its future.

"I heard a saying recently -- 'Never waste a good recession'. And during this recession people have bonded together more and have shown more interest in buying Irish goods and products. A similar thing has happened to the language.

"And the revival of the language is coming not just from the Gaeltacht areas, but from places like Dublin, Belfast, Kilkenny and Carlow.

"So I think the target of getting 250,000 people to use Irish regularly in 20 years could be easily attained. It shouldn't cost anything to get people to speak Irish, as it's all to do with a change of attitude. And if that continues, that number could be using Irish regularly in just 10 years."

Sunday Independent