Learning the Irish language is not easy at the best of times, especially for people living outside of Ireland looking to retain their native tongue or teach their kids the language of their forebearers.

While Irish is a compulsory part of the school curriculum for primary and secondary school students in Ireland, other countries have no options for formal schooling or lessons in the Irish language for children.

So at IrishCentral, we have compiled a list of places around the world where you can learn a few cúpla focal (Irish for "a few words"). 

Read More: Russian man tasked with looking after the Irish language in Co Kerry

Where is the Irish language spoken?

Irish has constitutional status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland and is an officially recognized minority language in Northern Ireland.

Gaeltacht areas of Ireland are regions where the Irish language is, or was until recently, the primary spoken language of a substantial number of the local population.

Gaeltacht areas of Ireland. Image: Wikipedia

Gaeltacht areas of Ireland. Image: Wikipedia

Such areas include extensive parts of counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Kerry – all along the Irelands Wild Atlantic Way – and also parts of counties Cork, Meath and Waterford. There are also six populated offshore islands under this category. 

The 2016 census showed that inhabitants of Gaeltacht regions numbered 96,090 people. Of these, 66.3 percent claimed to speak Irish and only 21.4 percent or 20,586 people said they spoke Irish daily outside the education system.

Where to learn Irish in North America?

With abundancy of immigration from Ireland to North America since the Great Hunger, it's not surprising that the Irish Diaspora have strived to preserve Gaeilge amongst the Irish American community.

But did you know that some North American universities actually offer courses in the Irish language? 

Ontario, Canada - Gaeltacht Bhaile na hÉireann

In 2007 a number of Canadian speakers founded the first officially designated Gaeltacht, called Gaeltacht Bhaile na hÉireann.

Located nearly 19 miles outside north of Napanee, Canada, it's an area where Irish immigrants fleeing the Great Hunger originally settled.

Read More: Toronto honors doctor for compassion shown to Irish Great Hunger emigrants

Signpost at the entrance to the 'Baile na hÉireann' Gaeltacht in Tamworth, Ontario, Canada. Image: Wikipedia

Signpost at the entrance to the 'Baile na hÉireann' Gaeltacht in Tamworth, Ontario, Canada. Image: Wikipedia

For those on this 62-acre Ontario settlement, the Irish language acts as a lifeline to their history, culture and to Ireland itself.  They strive to keep the language alive by celebrating the language, hosting art festivals, summer camps, classes, Irish dance, music, Gaelic games and most importantly, speaking Irish.

You can join their Facebook group here to learn more about Irish language lessons.

The Gaelic Society of Vancouver

The Gaelic Society of Vancouver was formed in 1908 by a group of dedicated Gaelic enthusiasts who wanted to establish a society where they could meet and enjoy each other’s company and fellowship. The first meeting of the Society was held on February 8, 1908, at the Sullivan Hall on Cordova Street, Vancouver.

The aim of the society was to promote the Gaelic language and preserve all matters of interest to the Celts by encouraging a wider knowledge of the Gaelic language, its literature and its music.

The Gaelic Society of Vancouver was formed in 1908. Image: GSV website

The Gaelic Society of Vancouver was formed in 1908. Image: GSV website

Today, the group actively strives to achieve those aims by organizing céilidhs, Irish language lessons and other events at the Scottish Cultural Centre, 8886 Hudson Street, Vancouver. Or you can get in touch through their Facebook page.

Learn Irish at the Vancouver Irish Language Weekend

A weekend immersed in Irish language and culture takes place in Vancouver from October 4 - 6 where the Irish lessons will be given by experienced fluent teachers from Ireland.

Three language levels will be taught to accommodate learners at all stages of fluency.

For more info email gaeilgewesterncanada@gmail.com or book your tickets on Eventbrite here.

Irish language taught in North American universities

Fort those looking to take their Irish language studies a step further, the Irish Government provides funding for suitably qualified Irish speakers to travel to Canada and the United States to teach the language at universities.

This program has been coordinated by the Fulbright Commission in the United States and the Ireland Canada University Foundation in Canada.

Read More: Irish government to fund US and Canadian students learning Irish in Ireland

A number of North American universities have full-time lecturers in Modern Irish, including Boston College, Harvard, Lehman College-CUNY, New York University, Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and the University of Notre Dame to name but a few.

Two of these institutions offer undergraduate degrees with advanced Irish language coursework, the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Irish Language and Literature and Lehman College-CUNY with a BA in Comparative Literature, while the University of Pittsburgh offers an undergraduate Irish Minor. 

Irish language courses are also offered at St Michael's College in the University of Toronto and at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

Daltaí na Gaeilge

Daltaí na Gaeilge was founded by the late Ethel Brogan with its one and only objective - "to promote and teach the Irish language."

Daltaí na Gaeilge has a full schedule of immersion programs throughout the entire year, operating immersion programs in New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

These programs offer classes which are suitable for every level of ability, from true beginners to native speakers.

The 2019 Summer Week Immersion Program will be held from August 25 - 31 in Esopus, New York, and interested parties can register here.

Read More: Are you an Irish language speaker or learner in America? This collection wants to hear from you

Na Gaeil Chicago

Na Gaeil has introduced thousands in greater Chicago to the Irish language. They offer multiple class levels on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the Irish American Heritage Center ( IAHC) 4626 N. Knox Ave., Chicago, IL 60630. 

The IAHC is dedicated to fostering Irish heritage, culture and traditions in America. Its center boasts a 658-seat theatre, library, museum, art gallery, authentic Irish pub, dance practice studios, meeting rooms and banquet rooms for parties.

Na Gaeil Chicago's Irish language classes return for the Fall 2019 term in late September and run through January 2020 and you can register here. 

Irish Language School Sydney (Scoil na Gaeilge Sydney)

The Irish Language School Sydney offers classes every Monday evening at four levels in the centre of Sydney using Teastas Europach na Gaeilge resources.

More details can be found on IrishLanguageSchoolSydney.org.au or the groups Facebook page here.

Irish Language Association of Australia (Chumann Gaeilge na hAstráile) - Melbourne

On Tuesday nights at 7:30 pm during the Victorian school term different levels of classes are held by the Irish Language Association of Australia (Chumann Gaeilge na hAstráile)

Classes are aimed at adult learners and led by experienced teachers and are held at the offices of The Celtic Club — Level 1, 420-424 William Street, West Melbourne. 

London Irish Centre 

The "Irish Heart of London," the London Irish Centre has been providing care, culture and community to the London Irish diaspora for over 60 years.

The historic center is a hive of activity and the Irish government has committed over $1.2 million to support their ambitious plans to redevelop the facility into a world-class Irish community and cultural center.

There are Irish classes for all ages following the announcement of new Irish language classes for primary school children this September.

We are pleased to announce the return of our Irish language courses this October ☘️

To book your space now, go to https://t.co/teqdZuweXC pic.twitter.com/W6frtuPlFA

— London Irish Centre (@LDNIrishCentre) July 24, 2019

There is an "absolute beginner" course from October 1 - Nov 19 and a "beyond beginners" course from October 2 - November 20. 

An eight-week refresher course for those with a comfortable level of spoken Irish will also take place in the Fall (October 1 - November 19) and participants will have an opportunity to meet and converse with others through Irish on topics such as family, work and travel.

Online Irish language courses

Sean Kyne, the Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, announced a $303,000 funding package recently which will make the teaching of the Irish language in the US far more accessible.

The funds are to be given to Maynooth University over the course of three years to develop and implement an online university certificate course in the training of Irish to adult learners. The course will be the first of its kind in Irish language teaching.

Anyone interested in teaching Irish to adults in the US will be able to access online materials and short films developed by experts in the Irish language field.

Other online resources like Clilstore or apps like Duolingo are also useful tools to build up your Irish language vocabulary. 

Check out IrishCentral's rundown of learning Irish online here.

Learn the Irish language on YouTube

Or for those looking for some excellent introductory videos look no further than Dane Thyghe's YouTube channel for some Irish language words and conversational phrases, here's a sampler.

Do you learn Irish outside of Ireland? Where are your classes held?
Let us know in the comments below.