Tina from the Tourism Space, has published an interesting blog about the Irish language being a tourism differentiator for Ireland. I wholly agree with all her observations on the emotional benefits of a tourist immersing yourself in one of Ireland’s Gaeltachts:
“Connection: Connects the visitor directly with our ancient history and heritage through the spoken word.
Understanding: It tells visitors that this is a different place. This isn’t England with a funny accent. It opens a window into our colonial past and our complex social evolution.
Accomplishment: Visitors who manage to learn a few essential phrases and actually use them gain very positive feelings of accomplishment. It gives them the feel-good factor.”
My father is a native of Tory Island where Irish is still the main language of the locals and growing up in Falcarragh in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht, the Irish language was part of everyday life in our home. But it’s not just the spoken word; it’s the ceoil (music) and the cultúr (culture) that sets the Gaeltacht apart from the rest of the county.
For many students, the Donegal Gaeltacht becomes their home for the Summer months while they attend Rann na Feriste and leave their English speaking at home. Likewise, adults attend Irish language and Cultural courses at Oideas Gael all year round. However, the perfect option for the time-pressed tourist is a day tour of the Donegal Gaeltacht, learning and practicing useful phrases throughout the tour, sure to impress friends and family when you return home – the sense of accomplishment that Tina refers to.
The language that we take for granted and even moan about learning at school is one of our unique selling points. As Tina says, “This isn’t England with a funny accent.”
Add the Donegal Gaeltacht to your travel plans in the near future. Beidh fáilte romhat anseo. (You will be welcome here.)