The government has announced plans to fund students from the USA and Canada to live in Ireland and learn Irish.
It is hoped that the move will strengthen bonds between the countries.
€726,604 has been set aside for the scheme, which was sanctioned by Joe McHugh who is Ireland’s Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands.
Mr McHugh said: “This funding awards American and Canadian students the wonderful opportunity to spend some time in the Gaeltacht regions during the summer learning the Irish language, gaining an understanding of the richness of the language and also getting a taste of local life.”
American and Canadian students will travel to the Gaeltacht (a name for any region where Irish is the primary language) during the summer months and attend intensive Irish language courses.
Mr McHugh also spoke about his hopes for the scheme to strengthen Ireland’s strong cultural connections with both the US and Canada.
As well as supporting international students in Ireland, the funding will go towards helping Irish language teaching assistants from Ireland to attend third level institutions in America and Canada.
The minister has also confirmed that the Subsidiary Fund for Third Level Institutions Abroad, which has been running for 12 years, will continue. This scheme helps to ensure that Irish language courses are available as part of academic programmes in overseas universities.
Thanks to this scheme students from countries all over the world including the US. Canada, China, Australia and Europe are able to attend Irish language classes in up over 40 institutions.
Mr McHugh said: “[the schemes] will help to inform the academic community in America and Canada about the Irish language and its rich heritage as one of the oldest vernaculars in Europe. As a result of this, the Irish language will have equal status to other European languages being taught abroad”.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling