€20m Irish-language arts and community funding announced

Strategy aims to promote and strengthen Irish language-based arts

The Government has announced an investment package worth €20m as part of a new national strategy for Irish language-based arts and for the Irish language in the community.

The strategy, titled Straitéis d’Ealaíona Teangabhunaithe na Gaeilge, will operate from 2024-2027 with the aim of promoting and strengthening Irish language-based arts. Additionally, it aims to integrate them into the education system, including the early years.

Irish language-based arts (na healaíona teangabhunaithe) will be recognised as areas that are of significant importance to the community.

Irish language-based arts are drámaíocht (drama), scéalaíocht (storytelling), amhránaíocht (singing), agallamh beirte (dialogue in verse), lúibíní (a type of comic dialogue sung in verse) and an fhilíocht labhartha (spoken verse).


The strategy includes a financial package of almost €10m to commence implementation of the plan.

The largest sum, €5.3m over four years, will go to An Taibhdhearc, the Galway-based national Irish-language theatre, which has had to outsource operations in recent years due in part to budgetary constraints.

Oireachtas na Gaeilge, the national organisation which hosts the country’s foremost Irish-medium annual arts and music festival, Oireachtas na Samhna, will receive €4.085m towards a plan for the promotion and development of Irish language-based arts.

Minister for State at the Department of the Gaeltacht Patrick O’Donovan, who made the announcement in An Taibhdhearc, described the investment as “the most significant funding package announced for the Irish language and the Gaeltacht” during the term of the Government.

He said he has “no doubt” that the funding will facilitate “the blossoming of Irish language drama” and that it would help put An Taibhdhearc in a position where it can properly function as the national Irish-language theatre and as a development hub for Irish language drama.

Welcoming the announcement, Siobhán Nic Fhlannchadha, chairwoman of An Taibhdhearc’s board of directors, said the funding was “a recognition” of the value and importance of An Taibhdhearc that, she said, will enable it to “fulfil its role” as the national Irish-language theatre.

She said An Taibhdhearc had worked “very closely” with the Department of the Gaeltacht in the run-up to the announcement. “We’ve gone through [everything] item by item and ambition by ambition. I think [the €5.3m] sum is a realistic amount that is based on a well-thought out strategy and we are very hopeful that it represents the financial momentum that will be needed for us to achieve the goals that we will set out in our strategy in 2025-2027.”

The real work, she said, “starts tomorrow”.

“Our first task will be to hire a senior management team of two – an artistic director and a CEO. That hasn’t been the model in An Taibhdhearc for many years due to funding constraints. They will lead a team of talented people who will look at the tech side of things, the writing and the marketing -all of the work that goes with running a theatre.”

The stewardship of public funding for the Irish language arts has long been a criticised by advocates who have called for corrective measures to address historic imbalances in funding.

The new arts strategy is informed by the findings of a recently published report titled Tuarascáil ar Ealaíona Teangabhunaithe na Gaeilge, which was compiled by a research team based at Mary Immaculate College and in the University of Limerick.

The report found that the Irish language arts sector is fragmented and dependant on funding from disparate sources. These comprise of various Government departments and cross-Border bodies such as Foras na Gaeilge, which has had its funding severely restricted due to the political impasse in recent years.

An “urgent and ongoing need” for partnership and communication between all parties was identified and it said strategic and long-term planning was needed in at all levels across the sector.

Other funding recipients announced on Thursday include:

Tuismitheoirí na Gaeltachta, a community-based organisation that supports Gaeltacht families raising their children through Irish, will receive €5.5m.

Some €3.7m will be provided to Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta, an organisation that provides early years services through Irish in Gaeltacht areas.

The remaining funds (€1.9m) will be used to promote the use of Irish in companies located in Gaeltacht areas.

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Iriseoir agus Eagarthóir Gaeilge An Irish Times. Éanna Ó Caollaí is The Irish Times' Irish Language Editor, editor of The Irish Times Student Hub, and Education Supplements editor.