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Town boasts more than just cupla focal

THE majority of residents in a former garrison town that was once inside the Pale can speak Irish, a survey reveals.

Over 90pc of respondents to a 'Survey on People's Experiences and Opinions of the Irish Language in Carlow 2010' claimed to have some level of Irish, with 50pc saying they are competent speakers.

A total of 300 people were involved in the study. Only 9.4pc replied that they had no Irish at all -- and of these 5.5pc were born outside of Ireland.

It is now over 30 years since Irish language activists in Carlow asked parents if they would be interested in sending their children to an all-Irish school.

In 1982, Gaelscoil Eoghain Ui Thuairisc opened its doors, followed by a secondary school, Gaelcholaiste Cheatharlach, eight years later.

More than 1,000 pupils have passed through the doors of the primary school, which was backed by GAA commentator Micheal O Muircheartaigh.

Sarah Clarke, who married a Spanish man, said her children took to Irish like "ducks to water" after starting school in Carlow. Diego (8) attends the Gaelscoil while his sister, Jimena (17), is studying for her Leaving Certificate. Their dad, Marcelino, is "very proud" of their achievements.

Sarah said: "Jimena went to the village school in Timolin, it wasn't an Irish school but we sent her to the Irish secondary school and never looked back. Diego's never known any different so he's brilliant at it."

Chairperson of Glor Cheatharlach and founder of Gaelscoil Eoghain Ui Thuairisc Bride de Roiste said the survey showed an "extremely positive attitude" to Irish in the county.

Irish Independent