'Nobody speaks Irish there, nobody seems embarrassed about it' - tourists slam Gaeltacht status of town
Language-planner for Dingle, Co Kerry says it was 'unfortunate' tourists didn't come across Irish speakers on holidays
Tourists who wrote a letter to a national newspaper about their disappointment at the lack of Irish in Dingle were just "unfortunate to not have encountered Irish speakers", says a language planner.
The director of the Dingle-based group facilitating an Irish-language plan for the town insisted there is no shortage of speakers in the Gaeltacht town.
In a strong letter to The Irish Independent, John Leahy of Wilton Road, Cork, said that while on a recent trip to Dingle, he and his wife "quickly discovered that few if anybody there speaks as Gaeilge".
"We naively expected that, being in Dingle, in the Gaeltacht, the Irish language would be spoken widely throughout," Mr Leahy said.
However, he claimed that none of the staff at the accommodation availed of by him and his wife could speak even basic Irish.
He said he was met with similar issues upon visiting businesses in the Gaeltacht town and that "nobody we met seemed embarrassed or apologetic, despite the town being festooned with business and street names, as well as directional signs in Irish".
In response, language planner Áine Moynihan said "there is no doubt more needs to be done" to help people access the language and that it be heard and seen.
"It’s for that reason we’re putting together a language plan," she told the Kerryman, "to help the people of Dingle and to give them a chance to improve Irish in their town from a speaking point-of-view... and in our aim to be a Gaeltacht Services Town.
"We’re gathering suggestions from the people of Dingle and they will have ownership over the actions we take. If they accept the plan, they’ll have at least seven years to put it in place.
"Most of the research is done; we also held focus groups, and we are now preparing for a public meeting, which will provide another chance to the people of the town to lodge their recommendations."
She added that the people of Dingle should be aware that the language is its biggest unique selling point over similar tourist towns.
"People from all over, including from outside the country, come here because they love to hear the language," she said.
"These people were very unfortunate not to encounter Irish on their trip."