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The city has always been an English speaking city officially and Irish has always been there sort of underneath - there's been a lot of Irish speakers in the city.
They do speak Irish and speak it fluently, but they're stronger in English because there's more English input in their lives and teenagers generally now speak English.
They speak Irish as children and they'll speak Irish as adults but as teenagers, they seem to gravitate more towards English. Then there's the whole development of an urban population and a whole diaspora learner group as well so that's very encouraging.
Lillis Ó Laoire – Sean-nós singer & lecturer in Irish at NUI Galway Lillis is a sean-nós singer and lecturer in Irish language, folklore and Celtic Civilisation in the School of Languages, NUI Galway, and is also a strong advocate for the use of the Irish language in the community. I went to school in Cashel na g Corr, which is about two and a half miles from Gort a' Choirce. There was less of it in secondary school, much less by the time I got to the Leaving Cert. My dad didn't speak Irish, but my mum did and she spoke to us.
Then, it was the language of everybody so everybody did speak it to us and we just spoke it back - it wasn't a big deal. But we were encouraged to speak it and encouraged to make it a normal thing. I was reading a lot of English and I noticed that my English was developing quicker than my Irish.
But those communities have dissipated because of the influx of outsiders and so on.
Menlo was very strong in Irish speaking right up to the 50s and 60s. So Galway was surrounded by Irish speaking, yet Galway is a Garrison town, it's an English town and they always kept a good hold on that and I think that's there underneath all the time.But there's an impoverishment of all language in the new oral generation.There's a lot of languages under threat in the world.I wish that sort of reproduction would continue because it was very rich for me.I have students who are really competent and really excellent and I know it will continue because of them, because they have a level of Irish that's excellent.But there's now a new population of people who learn Gaelic from those old speakers and they've developed the language, so there might be 200 or 300 people who know some Manx, but there's 55 people that if you put them in a room, they wouldn't have to speak English to each other and they're committed active speakers.There are more speakers now than there was in 1970 and they're all learners. So I don't know how to feel about it, because since I grew up in an Irish speaking area, I'm committed to that.You'll hear people saying , 'The Connemara ones' as if they've got two horns and a tail, and it's a way for Galway City people to define themselves against the rural population and the rural Irish population, so those old prejudices continue.There are a lot of people in the city who are committed to Irish.I was really encouraged by 2020 because they didn't forget it - they really were proactive and they went out to try and include the Irish speaking population straight away. I was very encouraged at Tulca - I launched a book for Carol Anne Connolly, she called it An Sanasán Uisce.I'd like it to be more integrated into the fabric rather than a duty that has to be looked after. She had a good experience of learning Irish in primary school and then she had a very poor experience in secondary school, but as I was saying at the launch, it did not embitter her.