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Government confirms all Gaeltacht colleges will remain closed this summer

It has sparked concern among those in rural Gaeltacht communities which benefit from the influx of students every year.

Inis Mór which usually sees an influx of students on day trips during their Gaeltacht courses.
Inis Mór which usually sees an influx of students on day trips during their Gaeltacht courses.
Image: Shutterstock/matthi

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that all Irish colleges in Gaeltacht areas are to remain closed for the summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

On Friday, TheJournal.ie reported that talks were underway between colleges and the Government in relation to the feasibility of holding the three-week long courses at dozens of Gaeltacht colleges over the summer months. 

Today, The Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht (DCHG) confirmed that all course are to be cancelled.

In a statement, it said: “Following consultation with health authorities and in the interests of protecting public health, having regard to the emergency measures being taken due to Covid-19, it has been announced by the [DCHG] that no Irish language courses will be run in the Gaeltacht this summer as a result of Covid-19.

“It is recognised that this is an unusual, uncertain and challenging period and that this decision is a major blow to Gaeltacht areas and to the many thousands of students who had looked forward to attending courses over the summer.”

Coláiste Lurgan in Indreabhán, Co Galway had already moved to cancel all three-week courses and other colleges in the Gaeltacht anticipated cancelling classes but were awaiting the outcome of discussions with Department officials. 

Irish colleges bring more than 27,000 students to rural Gaeltacht regions, mostly dotted along the west coast of Ireland each summer. The increased footfall is worth around €50 million to the Gaeltacht economy. 

Máire Denver, who runs Coláiste Chamuis in Connemara, Co Galway called on the Government to provide additional supports to colleges impacted by the latest measures, while speaking with TheJournal.ie last week. 

“For starters, it means more than €50 million to the economy of the Gaeltacht and it’s a very poor area without the language,” she said.

“It’s very important that they survive into the future and to survive they need State help.

“We have to be positive and try and make up for it in the future by continuing the business that we have at Coláiste Chamuis and the work we do. We have to work twice as hard. The State has to acknowledge in one sense that we don’t run into any trouble.”

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