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A Neo-Gaeltacht (Irish: Gaeltacht Nua) is an area where Irish has a strong presence as a spoken language but is not part of the officially defined or traditional Gaeltacht areas.[1] It has been argued that non-Gaeltacht activist groups wishing to establish an Irish language community need to show that it is large, permanent and formally organized and that it has a growing number of people using Irish as their first language.[2] Another objective is a situation in which children use Irish among themselves and with other Irish speakers in a natural way while being able to deal with a largely English-speaking world.[3]

Under the Gaeltacht Act 2012 the Republic of Ireland's Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has said that areas outside the traditional Gaeltacht areas may be designated as Líonraí Gaeilge/Irish Language Networks, subject to them fulfilling particular criteria.[4]

Northern Ireland[edit]


In 2002, a major report of the West Belfast Task Force recommended turning part of West Belfast into An Cheathrú Ghaeltachta/The Gaeltacht Quarter.[5] The Joint West Belfast/Greater Shankill Task Force Report stated that the aim of the Quarter is to "secure wealth creation by maximising the economic opportunities provided by a growing cluster of Irish Language and cultural based enterprises and activities which additionally have significant tourist potential". The proposal has been accepted and put into force by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland.[6]

Belfast's Gaeltacht Quarter is now an area in which the Irish language is spoken widely. The area is home to Gaelscoileanna (Irish-medium primary schools), a Gaelcholáiste (an Irish-medium secondary school), naíonraí (crèches) and naíscoileanna (nursery schools). The area has Irish-speaking staff members working in local restaurants and agencies and is home to both Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich (the city's biggest Irish language cultural centre) and Irish language development organisation Forbairt Feirste. The Gaeltacht Quarter also hosts the community radio station Raidió Fáilte, Northern Ireland's only full-time Irish language radio station which broadcasts across Belfast and which seeks to get a license on FM to broadcast across the state.

In 2018 Foras na Gaeilge announced that Belfast was going to be one of the first five Líonraí Gaeilge on the island of Ireland.[7]

South Londonderry[edit]

An area in southern County Londonderry centred on Slaghtneill (Sleacht Néill) and Carntogher (Carn Tóchair), both outside Maghera, which had gone from being 50% Irish-speaking in 1901 to having only a few speakers by the end of the century, has seen a language revival since the setting up of a naíscoil in 1993 and a Gaelscoil in 1994. In 2008 two local organisations launched a "strategy for the rebirth of the Gaeltacht", based on Irish-medium primary and secondary education.[8][9] Announcing the launch, Éamon Ó Cuív, the Republic of Ireland's Minister for the Gaeltacht, said that the area was "an example to other areas all over Ireland which are working to reestablish Irish as a community language".[10]

In 2018 Foras na Gaeilge announced that Carn Tóchair was going to be one of the first five Líonraí Gaeilge on the island of Ireland, along with Belfast, Loughrea, Ennis and Clondalkin.

Republic of Ireland[edit]

Gaelscoileanna and Gaelcholáistí are now well established in the Republic of Ireland, especially in Dublin and Cork, and there have been several proposals over the years, as in Cork in the 1960s, to establish a Neo-Gaeltacht.[11] In a special report on Nuacht TG4 news in 2009, it was confirmed that a group in Ballymun, a predominantly working-class area in Dublin, had, in conjunction with the local branch of Glór na nGael, received planning permission to build 40 homes for people who want to live in an Irish-speaking community in the heart of the city. Ballymun now has two Gaelscoileanna,[12][13] but there is as yet no evidence of major news in the Neo-Gaeltacht development in the area.

In 2018 Foras na Gaeilge announced that under the Gaeltacht Act 2012 Loughrea, Ennis and Clondalkin in the Republic of Ireland were going to be officially recognised among the first five Líonraí Gaeilge (Irish Language Networks) on the island of Ireland along with Belfast and Carn Tóchair in Northern Ireland.[14] [15] [16]

North America[edit]

Tamworth-Erinsville, Ontario is a Neo-Gaeltacht area in Canada.[17] It is unusual in having no resident Irish speakers, serving instead as a meeting place for Irish speakers from elsewhere. It is therefore a link for otherwise dispersed networks.

However, some are critical of the suggestion that a Gaeltacht, whether neo or traditional, can be an area without residents who speak Irish.[18] Some have argued that this completely ignores the meaning of the word 'Gaeltacht'.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Gaeltacht is the collective whole of those areas in which the Irish language is spoken as a community language and its culture and traditions are very much alive and thriving". Permanent North American Gaeltacht. 13 January 2014.
  2. ^ Ó Broin, Brian, ‘Establishing Criteria for Recognizing New Irish-Speaking Communities in the Light of 2012 Gaeltacht Legislation,’ North American Association of Celtic Language Teachers 2013.
  3. ^ Mac Póilin, pp. 101-2
  4. ^ 'Criteria shake-up will mean new Gaeltacht areas,' Juno McEnroe, Irish Examiner, 8 February 2012:
  5. ^ "West Belfast Task Force Report" (PDF). West Belfast Task Force. 2002. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  6. ^ Irish language Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine. at
  7. ^ "Irish-speaking areas in north set for official status for first time- The Irish News". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  8. ^ Armstrong, Timothy Currie (2012). "Establishing new norms of language use: the circulation of linguistic ideology in three new Irish-language communities". Language Policy. 11 (1).
  9. ^ Armstrong, Timothy Currie (2011) "Bilingualism, Restoration and Language Norms." In: John M. Kirk and Dónall P. Ó Baoill (eds.), Strategies for Minority Languages: Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Scotland. Belfast: Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, 172-179.
  10. ^ Irish-Medium Education back bone of the strategy for new Gaeltacht in south Derry Archived 2012-03-22 at the Wayback Machine., Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, January 2008. Accessed 5 April 2011
  11. ^ Mac Póilin, pp.101-102
  12. ^ Bóthar Choltraí, Baile Munna, Baile Átha Cliath 9:
  13. ^ Bóthar Bhaile Munna, Baile Munna, Baile Átha Cliath 11:
  14. ^ "Ennis Recognised As Líonra Gaeilge- Clare FM". Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Survey to feed into new Irish plan for the Loughrea area". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  16. ^ "Clondalkin's Gaeltacht credentials given a big thumbs suas". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  17. ^ "About Us". Permanent North American Gaeltacht. 13 January 2014.
  18. ^ The Journal website
  19. ^ The Journal website


Mac Póilin, Aodán (2006), ‘The Universe of the Gaeltacht’ in Andrew Higgins Wyndham (ed.), Re-Imagining Ireland. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0-8139-2544-8