Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D., welcomed fifteen Canadian and sixteen American Irish language learners to An Cheathrú Rua in the Galway Gaeltacht today (29 July 2013). The ceremony, which was held in the Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge campus, was also attended by representatives from the Canadian and United States Embassies.
During his visit, Minister McGinley presented Fulbright Irish Language Awards to two students from the United States to complete Masters Degrees in Modern Irish at the National University of Ireland, Galway. The remaining American and Canadian learners were presented with Gaeltacht Summer Awards from the Ireland–Canada University Foundation (ICUF) and the Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange (the Fulbright Commission). Minister McGinley also presented awards to 7 Irish Language Instructors who will travel to teach Irish in universities across Canada.
These awards are the result of the ongoing collaboration the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has developed with ICUF and the Fulbright Commission in recent years. They reflect the deep interest in the Irish language internationally, particularly in the United States and Canada, where, every year, many Irish language learners choose to attend courses at NUI, Galway, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, An Cheathrú Rua and other venues. The awards are financed in partnership with universities and institutions in both Canada and the United States.
Presenting the awards, Minister of State McGinley congratulated all of the recipients and their teachers for their efforts in the promotion and preservation of the Irish language. “These exchanges,” the Minister said, “provide Ireland with a valuable opportunity to showcase the culture and creativity of the Gaeltacht and they help to identify future possibilities for resource development, collaboration and exchanges.”
The Minister also took the opportunity to welcome the awardees to Ireland in the year of the Gathering. He noted that some of them had never been here before and, indeed, that others have no family connection with the country. Clearly however, they all share an extraordinary interest in one of Europe’s oldest living languages.