Irish Language in Britain Update
BAIS council member Christy Evans provides his annual review of the Irish language in Britain and what’s to come in 2016.
Irish language classes at St Mary’s University, Twickenham continue to grow. Our September 2015 BAIS symposium featuring Professor Alan Titley was very well attended. On 16 January, I am teaching at a well-established Irish language group in the West Country. I recently brought together five new Irish language teachers for lunch in London. All are new to Britain, all are young, and all are passionate Irish speakers. On 23 January, I will have lunch with another new Irish teacher, and we will then attend an event for Irish speakers.
As well as everything else, I am an officer of the National Union of Teachers. By actively recruiting Irish staff, the NUT has the youngest average membership of any union in the TUC. In exchange for this, the union is now pushing for Irish to return to the curriculum in English and Welsh schools.
On 25 January 2016, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Professor Declan Kiberd will be speaking in London, and in March, I am on the organising committee for the Comhaltas concert, ‘Macalla’ at the Barbican. TG4 will broadcast the concert, and interview members of Comhaltas.
In addition to this, we have Irish language colleges this year in Milton Keynes, Shrewsbury, Frongoch and Tintern (Wales). We are also delighted that Dr Kaarina Hollo will be teaching at our residential course in advanced conversation in Northamptonshire.
So, it’s been a very busy 2015 for BAIS and the Irish language with more to come in 2016!