Drop in Irish Speakers is disappointing says Cumann Gaelach DCU

Irish usage has dropped eleven per cent in the past five years.

The daily use of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht has dropped eleven per cent in the last five years, and Irish people are less religious, according to the latest census results published by the central statistics office (CSO).

The preliminary results of the 2016 census were published on the 6th of April. Roman Catholic remains the dominant religion with 3.7 million practitioners (78 per cent of the population), however 468,400 people checked the ‘no religion’ box, a rise of 73.6 per cent.

The results also revealed that while 1.76 million said they were able to speak Irish, only 73,803 claimed to use the language daily outside of the education system. The figure is 3,382 less than the last census results in 2011.

Emmeline O’Malley, a spokesperson for the Cumann Gaelach DCU, says that while the figures are “disappointing” they do not necessarily reflect efforts to revive or speak the language.

“The Cumann Gaelach in DCU alone got more new members than ever before this year – 380. The pop up Gaeltachts have been a huge success in recently, focusing on 18-35 year olds and (have) expanded so much that they most recently took up a whole street” she said.

Pop up Gaeltachts are events hosted once in month around Dublin city, with the self-expressed aim of ‘Irish speakers coming together and drinking’. The next night will be hosted in Sin é, Ormond Quay on the 27th of April.

Brian Whiteside of the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) however, has said that these figures “overestimate” the strength of the established religions in Ireland.

“It seems odd that the number of Catholics has only declined by 3.4 per cent. The evidence on the ground, that is, the meager numbers entering the priesthood, and the massive decline in church attendance would suggest that, while many identify as being Catholic, few actually practice the religion on any regular basis” he said.

During the months leading up to census 2016 the HAI ran a campaign urging people to check ‘no religion’ if they did not practice a religion.

Michelle Martin 

Photo Credit: Pavee Point