Irish Medium Education in the North
The movement of An Ghaelscolaíocht / Irish Medium Education (IME) in the north has been recognized as the pulse of the ongoing Irish language revival since the foundation of Bunscoil Phobal Feirste. Late in the 1960s a group of families, all of whom spoke Irish, came together to establish an urban Gaeltacht on Bóthar Seoighe. Bunscoil Phobal Feirste was founded in 1971 with 9 children. The school went from strength to strength. By 1978 a full-time nursery school was started. It was a huge step in the history of the school in that families were able to enroll their children in IME. Voluntary work to raise money kept the school alive for thirteen years. In 1994 the school was recognized and given official status. Since then several other Irish schools have been established in Belfast and the surrounding area. With the establishment of Coláiste Feirste in 1991, the first post-primary in the section, there is a choice of IME from the ages of 3-18, with several other pre-school providers provinding care for even younger babies.
In 2003, Coláiste Caitríona, an IME 'stream' was opened in Coláiste Chaitríona, Armagh, and grant aid was immediately awarded to it. Currently, there are Post-Primary Providers in Armagh, Castlewellan and Donnaghmore. In 2015, Gaelcholáiste Dhoire was established as the second stand-alone IME secondary school and the sector in the north has seen a huge increase since then.
A description of the history of the Gaelscolaíochta sector since then is available at Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta here.
Conradh na Gaeilge supports the promotion of IME, the development of resources, the implementation of the statutory duty and the development of schools and facilities. Conradh na Gaeilge works with Comhairle na Gaeolscolaíocht, Iontoabas na Gaelscolaíochta and the schools themselves to protect and promote the sector.