Fluency in Irish enables graduates to develop interesting careers, not only in the more traditional areas such as teaching, translation and the media, but also in the arts and cultural sector, in public sector organisations, and in professions such as healthcare, ICT and marketing. There are a variety of job roles where you can use your language, whether you want to work exclusively with, or through Irish or would like to incorporate it into your work in some way.
The development of information and communication technology (ICT) has benefited all minority languages. It has precipitated a growth in Irish language software, websites and broadcast productions. There are many online resources available to students wishing to improve their fluency and accuracy. ICT developments have also led to an increasing number of people based overseas working with the language.
The recognition of the Irish language as an official working language of the European Union, and the Official Languages Act (2003), has led to increased opportunities for graduates fluent in Irish. Multilingualism is increasingly valued in a pan-European context.
Opportunities are available throughout Ireland, but especially in the Gaeltacht areas in Counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork, Waterford and Meath, and in the public sector. Opportunities to work abroad exist primarily in the European Commission, but also in North America and EU countries in Irish language teaching.
Working in the public sector
In the Republic of Ireland, ability in Irish has always been respected and encouraged in the public sector with many positions requiring Irish language fluency, especially in Gaeltacht areas and in health and education. The Official Languages Act requires the government and public bodies to provide certain services, and printed and web-based material, through Irish. This legislation covers 658 public bodies, including all government departments, all local authorities, An Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, the Health Service Executive, the ESB and the National Library. Over 150 of these bodies have introduced language schemes to implement the legislation as overseen by the Language Commissioner.
The Northern Ireland Civil Service is subject to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. There are occasional vacancies that specify a need for Irish language speakers.
Analysis of job adverts shows that the following are important strengths when looking for a job in Irish.
- A degree in any subject
- Excellent standard of Irish and English – both written and spoken
- A keen interest in the Irish language
- A knowledge of Irish language organisations.
Five tips for incorporating Irish into your working life
- Include ‘Cuirtear fáilte roimh chomhfhreagras i nGaeilge’ in your email signature.
- Use a bilingual phone message, or say ‘Go raibhmaith agat’ at the end.
- Buy a Fáinne. This is a little pin that indicates a proficiency and a willingness to speak in Irish to people. These are available from An Fáinne.
- Suggest incorporating Irish into your organisation’s marketing strategy or publicity material.
- Offer to represent your organisation (if appropriate) on Irish-speaking national and local radio and television programmes, or provide copy in Irish for the print media.