An Ghaeilge inniu - The situation of Irish today
Irish is the first official language of the state. Its use is determined by the Official Languages Act 2003. Irish is also an official EU language since 2007.
1 out of 3 can speak Irish according to the 2006 census figures. This is 1.6 million people in a population of 4 million people. (Republic of Ireland figures only). This means more people can speak Irish than Estonian or Maltese, fellow EU languages.
72,000 people speak Irish every day outside of the eductation system - that is the same size as the population of Limerick city and its surroundings.
There are Gaeilscoileanna (Irish medium schools) in all 32 counties of Ireland.
There are many third level courses available in Irish such as Fiontar in DCU, translation, media and technology courses.
There is a very active Irish media:
A television station - TG4.
Radio stations - RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta (PPI Radio Station of the Year), Raidió na Life in Dublin (described as "the trendiest radio station broadcasting in Dublin" by David McWilliams in his recent book "The Pope's Children"), Raidió Fáilte in Belfast, Wired Luimnigh in Limerick, Raidió X and Raidió Idirlín online. All other radio stations also broadcast shows in Irish.
Newspapers - Lá Nua (Belfast), Foinse (An Cheathrú Rua) Saol (Dublin). Other papers such as the Irish Times, the Sunday Business Post, Village Magazine, Pheonix Magazine, Limerick Leader, Galway Advertiser publish pieces in Irish.
Long established Magazines - Comhar (since 1942), Feasta (since 1948), An tUltach (since 1924), An Timire (since 1911).
Ezines - Beo.ie, nós*
The official music chart show, Top 40 Oifigiúl na hÉireann, is now presented in Irish on the majority of the local independent radio stations in the country.
Irish is used to give ALL formal commands in the Defence Forces.
Ireland is no longer distinctive enough for tourists
Tourists like to travel to other countries to see things that are different from their home countries. People do not come to Ireland to get a sun tan; people visit Ireland to experience Irish culture - Irish music, Irish dancing, Irish games, Irish literature and the Irish language. A Fáilte Ireland report in early 2006 showed tourists no longer see Ireland as a different and exotic place as the shops etc. are the same as in other countries. There is no distinct Irish identity any longer. Using Irish prominently in your business will ensure your business sticks out and has a unique Irish identity, attracting interest from tourists as well as Irish people.
Irish people are more and more proud of their identity
Irish people have become more proud of their Irish identity since 1990 due to the Irish team's participation in the World Cup. Riverdance and Lord of the Dance from 1994 onwards made Irish dancing sexy. Musicians such as U2, The Corrs, Sinéad O'Connor, Westlife, Samantha Mumba, Ash etc. are household names around the world. Irish actors such as Gabriel Byrne, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rys Meyers and Colin Farrell are major Hollywood actors. Since the launch of TG4 in 1996, Irish people have become a lot more favaourable and interested in the Irish language. TG4 has made Irish speaking television personalities such as Gráinne and Síle Seoige, Hector Ó hEochagáin and Dáithí Ó Sé celebrities and household names in Ireland. Irish people have always been favourable to the Irish language and this is increasing all the time.
Ireland is a changing place
Ireland is a multi-cultural place now with many different nationalities and different languages spoken here. This dispells the myth of a monoglot (single language) nation, which Ireland never was in the first place.
An increasing trend
businesses have used Irish over the years and it is an increasing trend. All
sorts and sizes of businesses have used Irish including major international
corporations e.g. Microsoft, Google, Tesco to small local Irish businesses. All
types of businesses have used Irish from doctors, solicitors, hotels, pubs,
restaurants, bookshops to webdesigners, landscapers, film makers etc.
Household names include Tesco (the third largest supermarket company in the world), Microsoft (the world's largest software company), Superquinn (the third largest retailer in the Dublin area), Supermacs, McDonalds, Kitkat, Guinness, Carlsberg, Meteor, Bank of Ireland, AIB, BUPA, Sudocrem, Iarnród Éireann, the ESB, Habitat, Atlantic DIY, SuperValu, Eurospar, Irishjobs.ie etc. have used Irish in various ways. Your business can do it too!!
What Irish speaking consumers desire
Irish speakers want the same service or product as you normally provide in English and/or other languages.
Keep it customer focused
In order to provide a product or service to Irish speaking consumers, you need only ask yourself what do you provide customers normally. Keep it customer focused. You only have to provide all that is necessary for the customers and nothing else.
There is no point publishing an annual report or internal safety manual etc. in Irish if these are irrelevant to the Irish speaking consumer. Irish speaking customers need Irish versions of signs, websites, application forms, brochures, letters, statements, telephone service in Irish etc.
know about it
If you are able to provide a product and/or service in Irish - let people know about it!! There is no point going to the effort to translate material etc. and then not let Irish speaking consumers know they have the option to do business with you in Irish. Advertise the fact that you can do business with people in Irish. Make sure the option to use Irish is prominently displayed in your office or premesis, on your website, promotional material etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everybody speaks English, so why should I offer Irish?
This is all about language preference not language competence. Undoubtedly Irish speakers will be able to speak English as can many other nationalities, but their preference is for Irish not English. Ask non-Irish customers would they like a service or product in their language and you can be assured that they would like that even though they may be able to speak English. Their preference is for their own language not other languages that they may speak.
How much Irish should I start off with?
You can start off using as much as or as little as you like. You could begin with a little and then over time offer more and more products and service in Irish. It is entirely up to you, but avoid making it look like a token effort as Irish speaking consumers will not be interested in that.
I don't speak Irish, so how can I still offer products or service in Irish?
You can still provide products or service in Irish. Even if you do not speak Irish, you can employ someone to deal with your Irish speaking customers. If this is not an option, you can get material translated and provide Irish versions of materials such as websites, literature, application forms. This may be enough to satisfy Irish speaking customers.
I don't know how to go about this. Where can I get advice?
Have no fear! You can contact the Cumann through this website and we will be able to help you. Foras na Gaeilge have a Business Services section to assist businesses with using Irish. Údarás na Gaeltachta have a formidable business division well experienced with dealing with businesses large and small, from Ireland and abroad.
There are also resources such as booklets to download from the Acmhainní section of this website that will help you.
In what ways can I use Irish in my business?
There are limitless ways you can provide products and/or service in Irish e.g. Irish signage, Irish advertisements, Irish version of websites, literature in Irish, receipts in Irish, Irish service on the telephone. Ask us in the Cumann and we will be glad to advice you how to use Irish with your customers.
Will I have to make all my business Irish speaking?
No, you do not have to change your entire operation to an Irish speaking business in order to serve Irish speaking customers. You only need to be able to provide all that is necessary to offer your product or service in Irish.
Irish doesn't have the vocabulary for my kind of business.
Irish is hundreds of years older than English and many other languages, so it has a very well developed vocabulary. An Coiste Téarmaíochta (the Terminology Committee) has been determining terms for all sorts of items for decades, so there is no fear that you will be unable to do business in Irish.
My business is not the kind of business that could use Irish.
There is no type of activity that Irish cannot be used for. Let us know what your business is and we will advice you how best to use Irish to provide a product or service to Irish speaking customers.
I am worried about annoying other customers.
This should not be a problem if the use of Irish in your business is done properly and sensibly. In the unlikely event that a customer becomes annoyed or stops doing business with you due to your option of providing products or service in Irish, it says more about the customer than your business. You will have many happy and loyal customers who will continue to do business with you due to the fact that you provide a product or service in Irish.
Will it be expensive?
This is hard to know. It depends on how you decide to use Irish in your business. There will be some initial set up costs but you should recoup your costs after a while. Using the world wide web will keep costs down. Allowing customers to be able do their business on an Irish website and/or being able to download documents in Irish will keep costs down.