Message from President Michael D. Higgins on Gaeloideachas 50th anniversary

Nov 10, 2023

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May I extend my best wishes to Gaeloideachas as you celebrate the significant occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of your organisation. This important milestone is a testament to your unwavering dedication and invaluable contribution to supporting the development of the education of the Irish language throughout our country.

Our ancient language is a vital part of our national identity, a wellspring of history and tradition. Its cultural richness unites us, strengthens our connection to our past, and safeguards our heritage.

The popularity of the Irish language with young people in their recreational activities is a source of great joy and hope. Our language’s current vibrancy has not happened by chance, but is a result of the efforts of those who promote and nurture it and the many who use it on a daily basis. On the one hand, it gives me great joy to witness how today it continues to thrive, with a vibrant community of speakers and over a million people worldwide learning Irish online. On the other hand, so much more can be achieved by those on whom we rely, for example by becoming activists for the language, and by using it more frequently.

Over the past five decades, the efforts of Gaeloideachas in the preservation and promotion of the Irish language, providing advice and assistance to teachers, parents and children, helping them to learn Irish, have undoubtedly played a significant role in fostering our linguistic and cultural heritage throughout Ireland.

Your commitment to this cause is truly commendable. Your work in advocacy and the support services you provide are key factors behind the increasing numbers who now attend Irish-medium schools, a testament to the benefits of the immersion education model for all students, regardless of their level of ability, their socio-economic status, or their religious, cultural or linguistic background. I am immensely proud of the positive impact Gaeloideachas has had on countless families and the broader Irish community, and I was so pleased to meet a number of colleagues from Gaeloideachas at our recent themed Garden Party here in Áras an Uachtaráin.

As we mark this important anniversary, let us all intensify our efforts to preserve and promote our cherished language, and support those who are working to ensure its growth and relevance in our modern world. Our Irish language, literature, culture, and wider heritage are sources of immense pride and joy. Together, we can ensure that the Irish language remains a crucial aspect of our national identity for generations to come.

May I send my best wishes to the members, Board, staff and all those associated with Gaeloideachas as you celebrate 50 years of advocacy and support for quality Irish language education. May your passion continue to fuel the growth and success of the Irish language for many more years to come. Mo bhuíochas libh.

Beir gach beannacht don todhchaí.

Michael D. Higgins, Uachtarán na hÉireann