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Failte go dti an Gaeltacht - Welcome to the Gaeltacht
In the Gaeltacht, this is the language that you will see and hear. The Gaeltachtai are small rural pockets of Ireland, where the Irish language (Gaeilge) is the first language of those that live there and is widely used on a day-to-day basis.
Gaeilge is the community language in the Gaeltacht and here, Irish culture and traditions are kept very much alive, offering an authentic Irish experience for visitors. Many of the Gaeltachtai are situated along the western seaboard of Ireland's Atlantic Coast, well off the beaten track and set amongst some of the finest, timeless scenery of the Emerald Isle.
Accommodation within the rural Gaeltachtai are often more modest, ranging from quaint country hotels and inns, working farms, and family run guest-houses and B&Bs. Activities in the Gaeltachtai can range from outdoor activities, equestrian, fishing, deep sea fishing and golfing, while nightly entertainment tends to revolve around traditional activities such as traditional seisuns, pints of Guinness and good craic.
The Gaeltachtai can be found in the counties listed below, to book accommodation in one of these areas contact one of our vacation specialists:
Situated in the famous Connemara region, west of Galway City is Ireland's largest Gaeltacht. The Galway Gaeltacht is regarded as the cultural heartland of Gaeilge, where the old traditions and heritage of Irish are at their strongest. Stretching along the coastline of Galway Bay, from the Claddagh of Galway City, home of the famous ring and into the Connemara Mountain ranges of the Twelve Bens and the Maamturk, this region covers some stunning scenery dotted with quaint little Irish speaking villages like Spiddal, Leitir Moir and Rossaveal. While out in Galway Bay, lie the famous Aran Islands of Inis Mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr, renowned for their age old traditions, timeless scenery and ancient monuments.
The second largest Gaeltacht in Ireland can be found in its far north western corner in Co. Donegal. North of Donegal Town, stretching from Fanad to Glencolumbcille and covering the famous Irish speaking areas of Gweedore, Gortahork and Na Rossa, the land in this Gaeltacht boasts a craggy coastline of sweeping beaches and dramatic cliffs, remote islands such as Tory, with its own dialect and rugged mountain peaks and windswept moors inland. Much of this remote county is unspoilt and undiscovered and offers some of Ireland's most rugged scenery in a land that is quite different from the rest of the country.
The Mayo Gaeltacht can be found in various pockets from the sparsely populated Mullet Peninsula in the far north west of the county, Ireland's largest island - Achill Island and on the shores of Lough Mask in the south of the country around the quaint Irish speaking town of Tourmakeady. Here the landscape covers bogland and mountains, tall sea stacks and sandy beaches. Ireland's ancient history is retraced at Ceide Fields, while folklore and tradition are proudly celebrated with Irish folk festivals such as Feile Iorras in July.
One of Ireland's most scenic and popular rural tourist regions, Co. Kerry has two Gaeltacht pockets. On the famous Ring of Kerry, the Inveragh Gaeltacht covers the mountains and lake filled valleys inland around the River Inny, known as the Glen. While along the coast of the Inveragh Peninsula just off the Ring of Kerry is the Ballinskelligs Gaeltacht. This region is renowned for its coastal scenery and sea and birdlife, while off the coast is the 4th Century hermitage and Europe's largest gannetry on the Skellig Rocks. But Kerry's most well known Gaeltacht can be found on the Dingle Peninsula, where the film Ryan's Daughter was set. Central to this peninsula is the town of Dingle, a colourful little town, popular with tourists and locals, while the Gaeltacht stretches around the western coast to Slea Head, boasting dramatic cliffs and amazing beaches. Off the coast at Slea Head are the Blasket Islands, now deserted their one time inhabitants found fame during the 19th century by writing about their experiences on the islands in their native Irish language. These texts are still used in schools today by students learning Irish. This Gaeltacht on Europe's most westerly peninsula offers a huge range of watersports from surfing to deep-sea fishing and dolphin watching trips for all the family.
Set among some of the most scenic areas of West Cork are the Muskerry Gaeltacht and Cape Clear. If you take the road west from Cork to Killarney, along the Lee Valley, following the path of the River Lee that flows out of Cork City, you'll come to the Muskerry Gaeltacht just outside the town of Macroom. During the fight for Independence from Britain this area was bandit country and it is clear to see why Irish Republicans would have used the rugged scenery for cover from the Black and Tans. As the region stretches south, it encompasses the beautiful Gougane Barra lake and forest park. Off the coast, Cape Clear is Ireland's most southerly isle and features magnificent sea cliffs, secluded sandy coves and a wealth of archaeological and historic artefacts outlining the maritime heritage of the island. You really couldn't get more ruggedly remote and off the beaten track!
The tiny Gaeltacht pocket of An Rinn lies 6 miles south west of Dungarvan Town, along the south east coast of Ireland. An Rinn is famed for its rich heritage of traditional Irish music and is home to renowned Irish trad band Danu and acclaimed writer and Irish folklorist Liam Clancy. Close to Helvick Head is An Rinn's famous 100 year old Irish language school, which runs summer classes for children and regular ceilidhs (traditional irish music and dance) most summer nights.
The Gaeltacht of Royal Meath has a slightly different history than that of the country's other Irish speaking regions. The two Gaeltachtai of Baile Ghib and Rathcairn are resettled communities, where the Irish government of the 1930s redistributed the vast estates of absentee landlords as small farm holdings to poor farmers from the Gaeltacht areas of Connemara, Mayo and Kerry. The aim was to redress a centuries old imbalance, where the Irish farmers were forcibly removed from this land by the English under Oliver Cromwell, with the infamous edict to Hell or Connacht. When the Irish farmers returned to the land in Meath, they brought with them their native language and culture, which today is greatly celebrated in the small Gaeltachtai of Baile Ghib and Rathcairn, 70 km from Dublin.