Permanent North American Gaeltacht

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Erinsville Gaeltacht
Gaeltacht Bhaile na hÉireann
Nickname(s): The Canadian Gaeltacht, Gaeltacht Bhuan Mheiriceá Thuaidh (Permanent North American Gaeltacht)
Kingston, Ontario Location.png
Coordinates: 44°30′06″N 76°59′04″W / 44.50167°N 76.98444°W / 44.50167; -76.98444Coordinates: 44°30′06″N 76°59′04″W / 44.50167°N 76.98444°W / 44.50167; -76.98444
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Established 16 June 2007 (as the first Official Gaeltacht outside of Ireland[1])
Area
 • Land 0.24 km2 (0.09 sq mi)
  seasonal
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)

Gaeltacht Bhaile na hÉireann or the Permanent North American Gaeltacht (Irish: Gaeltacht Bhuan Mheiriceá Thuaidh) is a designated Irish speaking area in the town of Tamworth, Ontario, along the Salmon River. The nearest main township is Erinsville, Ontario. Unlike Ireland, where the term "Gaeltacht" refers to an area where Irish is the traditional language, the Permanent North American Gaeltacht has no resident native Irish speakers. The name refers instead to it being a regular meeting place for Irish speakers from North America and elsewhere.

Signpost at the entrance to Baile na hÉireann

Erinsville was settled by the Irish, and its first five mayors were Irish.[2] It is from this area that the Gaeltacht receives its official name of "Gaeltacht Bhaile na hÉireann" or "Erinsville/Town of Ireland Gaeltacht"

This area is notable mainly in that it is the first and only officially sanctioned Gaeltacht (or "designated Irish speaking area") to exist outside of Ireland. Official support for this gaeltacht was shown during the opening ceremony, which was attended by the Irish ambassador to Canada, Declan Kelly, and by Helen Gannon of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.[3] An official statement regarding this site was also released by the Irish Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív. In this, dated 29 May 2007, he states: "I would like to congratulate the Canadian people for establishing a Gaeltacht in Canada, the first outside of Ireland. I wish every success to your work and I hope that it will grow and develop." [1] Also received from Mr. Ó Cuív was the approval of 20,000 (C$28,835) for the Gaeltacht, for teacher training.[4]

The site offers Irish language immersion classes (on site and in Erinsville), Céilidhs and camping (usually August).[2] The organizers plan to build cabins to house up to 100 people, classroom facilities and a museum. The classes will be held in the style of, and are inspired by, the Oideas Gael immersion classes held in the Donegal gaeltacht of Glencolmcille.[4]

This gaeltacht has been featured in the news, primarily for the fact that it is the first of its kind outside of Ireland, and has been reported on by the Irish TG4,[5] the British BBC[3] and in Toronto Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/a-tongue-twisting-labour-of-love-in-canadas-gaelic-speaking-community/article593113/ ). Organizer Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh, when speaking with the BBC, stated that although the Irish speakers are all from very different places (Canada, Ireland, the United States) this site is one on which they may all congregate: "'It's a place where they can go when they want to regenerate their cultural batteries and, especially, to come back into contact with the language."[2]

The aim is to restore and maintain the language by having a place where speakers can make connections with each other, learn and practise Irish.[6]

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