Armagh County stars Ciarán McKeever and Nathan Curry joined the Armagh GAA Culture Committee and local Irish language organisations CAIRDE Teo and Gael Linn recently to launch a poster campaign aimed at encouraging Year 10 students to choose Irish for GCSE. Ciarán and Nathan are both great supporters of the language and they are asking school students to consider learning the native language of Ireland. The Armagh GAA Culture Committee will be distributing the posters to local post-primary schools and GAA clubs across the county to encourage students to pick Irish as one of their GCSE subjects.
Ciarán, Armagh senor football captain, spoke of his respect for the language: “I recently spent time in Gaoth Dobhair in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where Irish was the first language for the vast majority of people in the area. Irish was spoken in people’s houses, in the shops and cafés, in the bank and even on the football field and it really struck me how important it is to keep out own language alive. While I only have a cúpla focal or a couple of words, my grandfather was an Irish speaker and I have a huge respect for the language and its speakers. I would encourage all Year 10 students to pick Irish for GCSE, as the language is part of who we are and where we come from. It is an integral part of our Irish identity and is vitally important within the GAA. Irish is certainly increasing in popularity in Armagh, with a growing number of speakers, particularly children and young people. You just have to look at the likes of Neil Magee and Ciarán Kilkenny and even our very own Charlie Vernon, and you can understand the importance of our national language.”
Seán Ó Maoilsté, Irish language officer with Cairde Teo in Armagh and member of the Armagh GAA Culture committee spoke about Armagh GAA’s latest Irish language initiative. “We are very fortunate that Armagh GAA is extremely supportive of our national language. Our county board recognises the integral role of the language within the GAA and our players are also happy to speak of their admiration for the Irish language. It is becoming more and more common to hear Irish being spoken at GAA games, particularly in Armagh with plenty of fluent speakers helping out at all the games in the Athletic Grounds. The Irish speaking population in Armagh continues to grow, with Irish medium schools thriving and the numbers learning Irish at school and at night classes at an all-time high. I would like to thank Ciarán and Nathan for giving their time to show their support for the language and for encouraging young people to learn and use our own language. It is our duty as members of the Gaelic Athletic Association to promote the use of Irish and we in Armagh GAA would like to encourage the younger members of our GAA clubs to learn our own native language. Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam. A country without a language is a country without a soul.”