.Culture Minister Carál Ní Chuilín celebrated the third birthday of Líofa at an intensive Irish class in Colaiste Feirste in Belfast. It was one of a number of free all-day Irish classes, for people of all abilities, taking place across the north to mark the occasion.
The Minister said: “Three years ago, I launched Líofa – the initiative which encourages people to become fluent in Irish. “The language has been on a journey since then, as people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have signed up to learn Irish. Our original target was 1,000 Irish speakers but this number has increased and increased again to the point where more than 7,000 people have signed up at present.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in Líofa so far. Learning a language is no small undertaking. It takes patience, commitment and dedication. It is a challenging experience but, ultimately, a rewarding one.
“This is why the best Irish classes are welcoming, inclusive places. They are places of encouragement and diversity, where skills can be nurtured, abilities developed and lessons learned. But it’s not just an academic exercise – friends are made, support is given and a collective sense of community develops.
“Those who are learning the language today are the custodians of Irish tomorrow. The experiences they have will shape their perceptions now and into the future. “But today is about everyone – from those with a cupla focal to the fully fluent – coming together. They can share stories with those on the same path, exchange ideas and speak to each other in Irish.
“I am pleased to take this opportunity to meet fellow learners, and talk about our experiences as we strive to be Líofa le chéile. Much has been achieved in the past three years, and we have every reason to be confident looking forward.
“Hundreds of Irish language enthusiasts across the north simultaneously took part in classes today. This underlines the massive interest in the Irish language and I hope these free courses help people on their learning journey.”]]>