Belfast Telegraph

Home News Politics

Irish: Knowledge strongest among the young and in the Catholic community

By Noel McAdam

Knowledge of Irish is highest among young people In Northern Ireland - the 12 to 15-year-olds - while Ulster-Scots tends to be used mostly by the over-55s, the Stormont studies reveal.

Census figures show that almost a third of Catholics have "some knowledge" of Irish compared to 2% of Protestants.

Regarding Ulster-Scots, while recognising it as an important part of their tradition, only a small fraction of Protestants have substantial knowledge of it.

The Stormont strategy cites the 2011 NI Census which showed that 184,898 people have some knowledge of Irish - though a higher proportion of Catholics (21%) than Protestants (2%) said they had some ability in Irish.

The 2011 Census also showed that knowledge of Irish was highest amongst 12 to 15-year-olds (20%); older people were less likely to have some knowledge of Irish, with 6% of people aged 75 and over saying they have some knowledge of Irish.

The documents also cite the 2011/12 Continuous Household Survey which showed just over one in every eight (13%) of the population had some knowledge of Irish. Approximately one in nine (11%) could understand spoken Irish, while fewer people could speak, read or write Irish (8%, 6% and 5% respectively).

Just under a fifth (18%) of the population was interested in learning more about Irish and there was a higher proportion of Catholics than Protestants who have knowledge of Irish (29% and 2%).

The strategy is aimed at:

  • Increasing the numbers acquiring the Irish language through Irish-medium education.
  • Increase the numbers learning Irish outside of formal education.
  • Increase in numbers of children being reared through Irish.
  • Increase positive attitudes to the Irish language throughout the community.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph