As part of a month-long global campaign to publicize their new website and pamphlet, they are trying to “reach people with the language of their heart,” according to Jehovah’s Witnesses spokesman Mark O’Malley.
Their new Irish language brochure says, ‘Cén áit ar féidir linn teacht ar fhreagraí ar cheisteanna móra an tsaoil?’ which means, ‘Where can we find answers to life’s big questions?’
O’Malley, originally from Galway, has relatives in Connemara who are most comfortable speaking in Irish. He told the BBC that since they’ve started knocking on Belfast doors, several people impressed by the Irish tracts have provided the organization with positive feedback.
The organization has members in 239 countries, and prints its pamphlets in almost 700 languages. It also provides audio versions of its literature for languages without a written script, such as Sylheti, spoken by over 10 million in India and Bangladesh.
Following the positive recepetion of the Jehovah's Witnesses' Irish literature in Northern Ireland, O’Malley says that their next move is to print the brochures in Welsh and Scottish Gaelic.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses haven’t been the only organization to reach out to Irish language speakers in Northern Ireland, however. Last year, the leader of the new Northern Irish pro-union political party NI21, Basil McCrea, tweeted in Irish during European elections:
“An mbeidh rath ar pháirtí úr Mhic Rath?” which means, “Will there be success for McCrea’s new party?”
In Belfast, the Church of Ireland still regularly holds services in Irish and Irish language classes in its Skainos Centre have been attracting a growing number of learners from the city’s east end.
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses commemorate the death of Jesus each year, they do not celebrate Easter or Christmas.