A Spanish family has relocated to a small Gaeltacht village on the Galway-Mayo border after being selected to live there rent-free in order to prevent a local school from closing. 

Isabel Fortes and Miguel Ángel Ros and their five children beat more than 1,000 applicants to the coveted prize of living rent-free in An Chloch Bhreac for 12 months. 

The children, who are aged between four and ten, have all enrolled in Scoil Naomh Pádraig in the village, increasing the school's population by 50%, up from ten to 15. 

Their arrival will allow the school to remain open in the long term. 

Isabel Fortes previously worked in Galway as an au pair and returned to complete a master's degree. She now works for Boston Scientific. Her husband Miguel, who is from Valencia, is a mechanic with a truck license and is looking for work. 

Miguel told RTÉ News that it will take him a while to get used to Ireland's wetter climate but said he is excited to start life in the Gaeltacht. 

"It's spectacular land, spectacular mountains, and spectacular people. This is a beautiful place and we are going to save hard to buy a house in An Chloch Bhreac. Houses are very expensive in Ireland but we have free rent for a year and I will hopefully get work soon. I was a manager of a garage in Spain," Miguel told RTÉ News. 

A Spanish couple and their five children have relocated to a small Gaeltacht community after being chosen from over 1,000 applications to live there rent-free for a year in a bid to boost numbers at the local school and save it from closing https://t.co/XPkD9KGJ2u

— RTÉ News (@rtenews) September 5, 2023

Both Isabel and Miguel want their children to embrace the Irish language and culture and Isabel told RTÉ that she is "so happy" that her kids will be able to soak up Ireland's language and culture. 

"They will learn English now and be able to speak it the world over. But I also want them to know the Gaelic language and culture. Languages are so important for opening up their minds," she told RTÉ. 

Áine Ní Mhainín, acting principal at Scoil Naomh Pádraig, said the couple's five children are at an excellent age to pick up a new language. 

"This family will pick up Irish and English in no time. Already they are playing football and communicating with the other eleven pupils. We've been having musical sessions and that bonds the kids in a big way. It's like a big family here," Ní Mhainín told RTÉ. 

"They will get so much one-to-one attention and we're delighted to have them. They will bring so much to our Gaeltacht area and they are helping to keep our school open." 

Isabel said she intends to settle in An Chloch Bhreac and said her family feels "so welcome". 

"People are so nice. We feel so welcome and the kids are so happy. So this is our future." 

Check out RTE's report: