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A naíonra (pronounced [ˈn̪ˠiːn̪ˠɾˠə]; plural: naíonraí) is an Irish medium playgroup for pre-school children, which follows the principle of Total Early Immersion.


A naíonra is an Irish-medium pre-school in which a Stiúrthóir, or Leader, speaks only Irish in interacting with the children, who are usually aged between three and five years of age.[1] Naíonraí sessions usually last between 2 and 3.5 hours per day, which a child attends on a daily basis.[2]

The staff of the naíonra ensure every opportunity is made available to encourage the child's development physically, intellectually, creatively, aesthetically, socially, emotionally and linguistically. Naíonraí believe that the most suitable method of learning for children at this age is through the medium of play, and it is through this medium that every effort is made to assist in the holistic development of each child.[2] Na Naíonraí Gaelacha (previously Na Naíscoileanna Gaelacha), an organisation for Stiúrthóirí naíonraí, was set up in 1974, to provide information and advice to members regarding the principles of immersion education and child development.[1]


The first naíonra opened in 1968. A voluntary organisation called An Comhchoiste Réamhscolaíochta was founded ten years later to promote Irish medium pre-school education throughout the Republic of Ireland.[3] An Comhchoiste Réamhscolaíochta was later replaced by two separate organisations in order to focus on Gaeltacht and non-Gaeltacht regions. In 2003, Forbairt Naíonraí Teoranta became the successor to An Comhchoiste,[4] while Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta Teoranta was established in 2004 by Údarás na Gaeltachta to operate in the Gaeltacht regions.[5] These organisations provide advice, training and grant aid to existing naíonraí and those interested in starting their own naíonra. There are currently about 180 naíonra throughout Ireland,[6] with a further 70 naíonra in the Gaeltacht regions [7] and 46 in Northern Ireland.[8]


  1. ^ a b Hickey, T., 1997. Pre-schooling and Early Immersion: Na Naíonraí. In: Hickey, T., Early Immersion Education in Ireland. Ireland:Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann. Pp. 1-21.
  2. ^ a b [1]
  3. ^ Koch, J. T., 2006. Celtic culture : a historical encyclopedia. Oxford; Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ [6][dead link]

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