Friday 16 November 2018

Gaelgeoir group to start new Gaeltacht near city

Paul Melia

A GROUP of gaelgeoiri plan to develop an Irish-speaking community within commuting distance of Dublin.

And anyone who can speak our native tongue, and is willing to use it in daily conversation, is welcome to join.

Organisers of the Baile Gaelach (Irish town) concept say that over 300 people have already expressed an interest in joining, and plan to hold meetings next month to plan the new community.

It will be the first time since the 1960s that a new town of Irish-speakers will be formed.

According to the last census, just over 40pc of the population claim to be able to speak Irish.

Group chairman, Ronan Mac Murchaidh, says while the numbers able to speak the language are high, the group has to research how many might be willing to live in a Gaeltacht community.

Heritage

"We want to set up a new community in the east of the country," he said yesterday.

"We're mostly 25-40 years of age, and we were going to build our own places anyway and since we speak Irish we thought we'd build a community. If it's to be viable it has to be quite sizeable.

"The idea would be we have to start somewhere, but it would be wonderful to have hundreds of homes.

"It's based on a Scandanavian idea of co-housing where people come together to create small communities, it's not a hippy thing.

"If you look at the way housing developments are going they're looking to build small villages. For a lot of people, Irish is part of our heritage. We see it as part of our future," he added.

The concept already exists in Ireland. Rath Cairn is a small community in Co Meath founded in 1935 when 27 families from the west coast accepted land from the Government.

Meanwhile, in the Gaeltacht areas of the west of Ireland, some 30,000 people use Irish as their primary means of communication.

Another 25,000 residents speak Irish regularly. Northern Ireland also has its own small neo-Gaeltacht. The Shaws Road Gaeltacht in west Belfast was set up in the late 1960s, beginning with five families, and 22 live there at present.

Mr Mac Murchaidh said that a business plan is to be finalised following a series of focus group meetings due to be held next month.

For further information see the Baile Gaelach website at www.bailegaelach.com.

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