The Spiddal Irish Language Learners Club, or Club Gaeilge, has been formed in order to promote the use of the Irish language in the Connemara Gaeltacht. Many people who have come to live in the area are not fluent and they can find it difficult to access the language socially because of time constraints and financial difficulties. Research has shown us that the low level of fluency among non-natives in the Gaeltacht (non natives form 40 per cent of Spiddal's population and only 20 per cent of those have attained fluency in the language) is in large part due to a lack of opportunities for “immersion” and daily practice.
The club has been set up by local musicians to provide opportunities for learners to speak Irish socially with native speakers and develop the language naturally through games, storytelling, songs, poetry, music and conversation. This service is provided free of charge to all who need it as we hold to a strong principle that people have a right to access the language and culture of the Gaeltacht.
We aim eventually to run daily events, including conversation groups, music, singing and drama workshops, games and social evenings, providing opportunities for learners to socialise with native speakers and enjoy the rich culture of the Gaeltacht as the natural medium for transmiting the language.
Although all our venues are provided free by the good hostelries of Spiddal, we need money to pay for facilitators, paper & ink, books, games and other learning materials, and we have a long-term plan to produce local-dialect phrase books, with recordings for pronounciation, based on phrases learned and deemed most useful by the learners themselves and to distribute these free to those who attend our events.
Another of our aims is to raise awareness among native speakers and to invite them to engage with learners at our social events and to use the language first when speaking to strangers in everyday situations.
We also plan to collect books, CDs and other media in order to provide a free lending library.
The project will be documented by local film makers as we proceed and we hope to publish video and blogging updates and to actively seek feedback from learners, fluent speakers and all other interested parties in order to keep the club relevant and useful.
Our target of €2,000 is the minimum we need to run the club for three months, but if we get more we can do more, and the more we get the more we can do and the sooner we can bring our long-term projects into being. We are counting on your support!