Gaeltacht areas in Ireland

Geaeltacht is a term used to describe those districts that are largely Irish speaking.  You may come across these areas on tours of Ireland. They are real hidden gems.

These areas are mainly in Donegal , Galway and Kerry, but there are smaller pockets in counties Cork , Waterford , Mayo and Meath. 

Originally all of Ireland was a Gaeltacht , but the language began to recede from the late seventeenth century, initially from the towns and later from the rest of the country. 

The word Gaeltacht is a borrowing from Scottish Gaelic , originally meaning the Highlands and the people who lived there.  When it was borrowed into Irish in the eighteenth century , it referred more to the people – the “Irishry” – than to the district.  It has been used to denote an area only since the late nineteenth century.

The Gaeltacht regions do not have any seperate administrative arrangements , but there is a state board Udaras na Gaeltachta (the Gaeltacht Authority) that has some economic planning and development functions. 

There is a radio station Raidio na Gaeltachta , which serves as a unifying force between the scattered areas and also as a national Irish-language service. 

In the past, the Gaeltacht , poor and marginalized , suffered from heavy emigration.  Today, prosperity and easy mobility pose different problems.  Parts of the Galway Gaeltacht have been swallowed up by the urbanization of Galway City and have become extended suburbs.  The romantic attraction of the west of Ireland has brought “white settlers” who care little for the native language.  On the other hand, the Gaeltacht is more aware of its identity as a seperate kind of place than ever before , and the lure of cultural tourism with its attendant monies has managed to slow down the inevitable conquest of English. 

Some of the very best literature in Irish in the twentieth century has come from the Gaeltacht.

Try and learn some of the language on your Ireland tours.