LANGUAGES Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has launched the Líofa campaign at Carntogher near Maghera.
The initiative encourages people to learn Irish with the goal of becoming fluent by 2015.
Speaking at the event on Monday, the Minister said: “I welcome this opportunity to visit Carntogher and see how the Irish language is thriving. This is a living example of a rural community embracing Irish at grass roots level and creating a vibrant Galetacht area.
“I am particularly pleased to hear about the courses, workshops and initiatives on offer at An Carn to help people achieve Líofa. Through their support and encouragement, An Carn is helping to build the momentum around the Irish language both locally and as part of a growing movement in the north.”
She added: “As Minister, I am here to acknowledge this and offer my support to the great work going here. Since Líofa was launched last September, I have visited towns and cities across the north to showcase the initiative. But I am especially keen to promote Líofa in rural areas, and recently met with Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill to discuss ways of supporting the development of Irish in these communities.
“Having met people from all backgrounds and walks of life – at various stages on their journey learning the language – I see how the Irish is a unifying force which is a vital part of our shared cultural heritage. We had initially set ourselves the target of 1,000, but have already far exceeded that, with more than 1,600 people committed to Líofa. Our new target is 2,015 people by 2015.”
The Minister concluded: “I offer every encouragement to those who are considering their first steps to fluency. The willingness and desire to learn Irish is strong, and the appeal of the language is broader today than it has been at any stage of its recent history. Events such as this underline that point, and allow everyone involved to make the kind of connections which will sustain and nurture the Irish language into the future.”