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President Higgins has released a message about Seachtain na Gaeilge

Date: Wed 9th Mar, 2022 | 12:18

Seachtain na Gaeilge was first held in 1902 and groups around the world will be celebrating 120 years of the festival this year. It is wonderful that the festival has gone from strength to strength in celebrating our native language. May I commend all the organisers and this year’s ambassadors.

There are other positive signs which augur well for the language. The energy of the Irish language community in many areas of life, in person and online and in the creative arts and wealth of Irish poetry, novels and short stories emanating from a new generation of talented writers. It is only through the preservation of that profound cultural connection that we can both comprehend our shared past and enable it to evolve and remain relevant in our contemporary world.

In addition, we know that over a million people around the world are actively learning Irish on online applications and in traditional classes, many of them members of our global Irish family. Additionally, non-Irish nationals and new Irish citizens are also seizing the opportunity to learn the native language of the place that they now call home.

At the end of last year, I signed the Official Languages (Amendment) 2021 Act; it strengthens the 2003 Official Languages Act. The aim of this act is to improve the standard of services that ar available to citizens who wish to do their business with the state or access state services through the medium of Irish.

There is great value in having an annual festival to encourage those who are new to the language, or who have not used what they have for some time. Irish is a beautiful, expressive medium of communication, which connects us with our surroundings, with our past with nature and with each other. Seachtain na Gaeilge provides us with an opportunity to engage with the language and there is a rich programme of events on offer.

We have a chance, all of us, old and young, learners and fluent speakers to celebrate our heritage together, our language which has been protected by us as a community, in spite of difficulties and challenges.

The Irish language is of us, something that must be made available to our future generations. During this festival I hope citizens in all circumstances and of all ages are able to access and speak Irish with pride, delight and a sense of shared connection and heritage. Let us resolve to continue the effort during this year in which Irish will now be in everyday use in the European
Union, building on that achievement, and ensuring the day will come when we begin to see its use in the everyday lives of the people of Ireland.

The language is a cause for celebration. It is a central part of our lives and our identity. Bain triail aisti!