Council backs plan for 'urban gaeltacht' in Galway
An urban gaeltacht which would see people living in housing estates specifically earmarked for Irish speakers in Galway city has been proposed for the city's Development Plan.
The proposal would see a housing development built within the city to accommodate some of the hundreds of families who already use Irish daily in their working lives.
The amendment to the draft City Development Plan 2017-2023 was proposed at a meeting of the city council by Sinn Féin Councillor, Cathal Ó Conchúir.
It received unanimous support from members of Galway city council. The council will now carry out investigations to see how feasible the plan is.
Mr Ó Conchúir said he had been inundated with support for the proposal from the general public.
"There is a very high percentage of Irish speakers living in Galway city, people who work in the Gaeltacht and general area. They are totally in favour of such a project. They want to live in urban areas but also want to live through Irish day to day," he added.
"We are now reviewing any legal or planning constraints but I'm hopeful this will go ahead," he said.
Mr Ó Conchúir said one possible area for the estate was council lands in Knocknacarra. He hopes that if all goes to plan the estate could be in place by 2020. He said a similar estate is already operating successfully in Belfast city and one is being considered for Dublin.
The plan also forms part of the Galway 2020 proposal and aspires to see Galway become a truly bilingual city.
"If we are realistic about being a true bilingual city then we need to be looking at different ideas from the norm. There is no urbanised centre in this part of Ireland that actually has an Irish speaking community, Galway should be the first to change that," he added.
Mr Ó Conchúir said he believed the estate should initially consist of 20 homes and gradually develop to meet demand.
"A starting point of 20 homes with an average family size of four people, gives us an urban gaeltacht of 80 people. That is a good start, there are lots of gaeltacht areas where you'd have to drive quite a distance to find 80 people. I've been inundated with calls from Gaelgoirs who tell me they are interested in this," he added.
The draft City Development Plan is due to go on public display shortly and Mr Ó Conchúir is confident the urban gaeltacht can form part of it.