Newry Reporter 16 Samhain
The biggest ever Irish language challenge has been run this week by Conradh na Gaeilge across than 320 schools in Ireland.
Over 30,000 pupils took part in the Gaeilge24 challenge on Tuesday.
The Irish-language challenge witnessed students raising money for the promotion of the langauge bu speaking only Irish for the duration of the day.
This is the fifth year of the unique annual challenge and Gaeilge24 continues to go from strength to strength.
The aim of Gaeilge24 is to inspire young people to speak only Irish for 24 hours on a particular day, wherever they are and whatever they are doing at school, at home, in shops and with local businesses, with their friends, around their hometown, in sports clubs, with their families, and with teachers.
Students received a phrase book for the day to help them out with suggestions to use in conversation.
Newry Tánaiste of Conradh na Gaeilge, Niall Comer has commended the growing development of the Irish language at school level.
“Seeing the 30,000 plus students taking part in Gaeilge24 is a testament to the rising levels of interest in the Irish language,” said Mr Comer.
It is the Gaeilge24 challenge participants themselves who promote and spread the use of the Irish language within whichever community they are part of, encouraging other people to talk to them in Irish and supporting everyone around them to use whatever few words of Irish that they might have throughout the day. Money is also raised on the day to help the promotion of Irish, and the global community have the chance to take part in the challenge online by using the #Gaeilge24 hashtag on Twitter as well.
“There are schools from almost every almost county in Ireland and more people than ever taking part in this year’s Gaeilge24.
“The Gaeilge24 challenge helps to open the minds of young people to the language in a relevant and enjoyable way, and gives them a positive experience of using Irish in their own lives.
“There are 20 per cent more students taking part this year than in 2015.
“This shows that young people are becoming more comfortable in using Irish in their daily lives; outside of the classroom,” added the Tánaiste.
Newry’s Irish medium school, Bunscoil an Iúir took part in the initiative with an inspiring way of sharing more of the language.
Príomhoide (principal) Maria Nic Fhearchair spoke to the Newry Reporter during the challenge day.
“We did indeed take part in the Gaeilge24 challenge and the children found it very enjoyable although in one way quite strange as they speak Gaeilge all day every day while in Bunscoil an Iúir,” said Ms. Nic Fhearchair.
“With this in mind, we extended the challenge and asked our regular visitors to learn a few basic phrases to use while in the school.
“Our postman and dinner deliverer can now greet the children and staff with ‘Maidin Mhaith’ and ‘Cad é mar atá tú?’
“Some of our staff who are not as fluent have been practicing a few phrases and will continue to use them in their daily work.
“Also, as part of the project, the children have been asking their parents to use more Irish in the home.
“Overall, we had a very good day and hope to build on it for next year by going out to the local businesses to encourage the use of the Irish language,” she added.