Irish Americans are the second-most prolific Irish language users of Twitter, according to statistics released by Missourian computer scientist Professor Kevin Scannell.
Gael-Mheiriceánaigh (American Gaels) are second only to Tweeters in Ireland itself when it comes to Tweeting in the language, which has made the transition from ogham to Apple in its 1,500-year written history.
Kevin Scannell is a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in Saint Louis, MO. A fluent speaker of Irish, Scannell has produced a litany of lectures and papers on the language and technology and has contributed immensely to the language’s advancement in the digital era.
Scannell recently posted a heat map of Ireland on his Twitter account which showed the distribution of Irish tweets across the country. The heat map was created using raw data available on Scannell’s website. Unsurprisingly Ireland’s large urban centers – Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Galway – and the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) areas came out on top of the list.
Léiríonn an ceann seo líon na dtweetanna ó gach áit (an tríú colún sa CSV sin) pic.twitter.com/yVnfy5Pf7x— Kevin Scannell (@kscanne) January 19, 2016
Analysis done by Tuairisc.ie, however, revealed that the USA was second on the list of countries tweeting in Irish. Further analysis by Tuairisc.ie yielded a breakdown of the the top US states for Irish tweeting.
It was The Golden State that topped the list, although California is not traditionally associated with Irish immigration as much as other states on the Eastern Seaboard. In second place was Washington, another state not commonly thought of as an Irish hub.
The large number of Tweets in Irish coming from California and Washington may be accounted for by the presence of several highly active accounts in those areas or the more recent influx of young Irish people to the western states.
Surprisingly, Massachusetts holds only the seventh position on the list, despite the strong connections between Boston and Connemara, Ireland’s largest and strongest Gaeltacht. Indeed, the parents of Marty Walsh, the city’s mayor, come from Carna and Ros Muc, two strongholds of Irish language and culture in the west of Ireland and the mayor himself has been heard speaking Irish on the national Irish language radio station, RTÉ's Raidió na Gaeltachta.
Massachusetts is behind New York State (3rd place), where many Irish emigrants fleeing the Great Famine of 1845-49 first set foot on American soil; Missouri (4), from where Professor Scannell himself makes his contribution to the Irish Twittersphere; Michigan (5); and New Hampshire (6). Completing the list are Illinois, Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. None of the Southern States featured on the list.
Scannell estimates that there are around 770 active Tweeters who tweet in Irish with regularity. These 770 Tweeters are responsible for the estimated 24,000 Tweets posted in the language each month.
A list of the 500 hundred most active Irish language users of Twitter can be found on Scannell’s website indigenoustweets.com, which tracks the activity of many minority languages on the social media giant’s platform.
A group of volunteers from the Irish-speaking Twitter community translated the site into Irish last year. To change the interface to Irish, one needed only to adjust the language on the ‘settings’ page. The Twitter App is as yet unavailable in Irish, but may well be made available in the coming months or years.
The statistics mentioned in this article are based on the 1,500 most recent Tweets from the 1,000 most active Irish-speaking users of the site. The information was collected on January 1, 2016 and excludes Twitter users whose accounts are set to private or who do not mention a location on their profile page.
* Maitiú Ó Coimín is a journalist with Tuairisc.ie, where this article was originally published in Irish.