The Gaeltacht summer school around Ireland have long been a rite of passage for Irish teenagers, three weeks away without their parents. However, the restrictions being felt by the Irish public mean that this year numbers are down by 30 percent.
Gaeltacht, summer schools, generate $65 million for these areas in rural Ireland where Irish is still the lingua franca. Irish teenagers travel to the Gaeltachts, stay with a local family and speak only Irish for three weeks.
However the decrease in numbers this year represents a loss of $19.5 million for some of the most disadvantaged areas in the Ireland.
The cost of sending a teenager to the Gaeltacht isn’t cheap (over $1,000, before spending money) and as unemployment is at an all time high the prices are just too much of average Irish families.
Around the country in Kerry, Connemara and Donegal numbers are down and the mná tí (women of the houses) are left with empty bedrooms.
Cathaoirleach Gearoid O Brosnachain, from Concos, a federation of 47 Irish colleges said that they are very worried. He said “There is such a degree of uncertainty in relation to jobs and money and in terms of mortgage arrears. It's not surprising that the number of children attending Irish colleges this year is well down.
“Last year, about 28,000 youngsters attended Irish colleges and we will be under pressure to reach 21,000 this summer.”
Frank Feighan, Fine Gael’s spokesperson for Gaeltacht affairs, has been criticized because of his limited Irish skills. An online petition is being circulated and will be sent to Enda Kenny. One comment on the petition said “It's the principle. I presume that the email is correct and he hasn't got a working knowledge of the language.
“How is he going to read reports about what is happening in the Gaeltacht?”