Newsletter #50: December 2020

A look back at 2020

The year 2020 was a turbulent and challenging one for all and there are very few areas of life that haven’t been impacted by Covid-19, including work, education and, of course, social life.

Like almost everyone else in the country, back in March we in Gaelchultúr had to gather our belongings together, clean out the fridge (!) and leave the office behind. Some of us had to be incredibly creative when setting up new offices for ourselves at home, with one staff member even having to fashion a makeshift desk from the ironing board! But December has come around again and despite all the challenges we have faced over the past nine months, we have much to celebrate. Below are some of the highlights we in Gaelchultúr had this year.

Huge increase in the number of online learners
Our classroom-based courses ended in March but, before long, we were able to offer all our classes online. For the first time ever, we were offering general Irish classes for adults live online, rather than in the classroom, and learners from all over the world took part! The number of learners increased significantly and we welcomed students from countries across Europe, the USA and places as far afield as Kuala Lumpur. It was a great opportunity for learners all over the world to take Irish courses at different levels, and we look forward to welcoming a wide range of learners to our courses again in the spring.

Welcome to two new staff members
We are very happy that our team is growing (despite the pandemic!), and we were delighted to extend a warm, but virtual, welcome to two new staff members this year. Ellen Curtin (Marketing Manager) and Lauren Nic Eoin (Marketing Executive) joined us in October and we look forward to their valuable input into all of Gaelchultúr's activities. We also look forward to welcoming them properly when we are all back in the office in the spring.

Official recognition given to the high quality of Gaelchultúr’s courses
We are also very proud of the success of our re-engagement process with the awarding body Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). As part of this process, we made our policies and procedures available to a panel of recognised experts in the Irish language and education sectors. The panel made a virtual visit to the Institute in October to discuss our procedures and we are proud that we were successful in the process. Panel members were very pleased with all the documentation provided and our discussions with them on the day. This is a recognition of the high quality of the courses we offer and we look forward to working with QQI to provide more high quality accredited courses in the coming years.

Online Interview with Pádraig Ó Mianáin and Cormac Breathnach
It was a great privilege for Gaelchultúr’s Director of Education, Éamonn Ó Dónaill, to interview Pádraig Ó Mianáin (Chief Editor) and Cormac Breathnach (Project Manager), members of the editorial team who worked on The Concise English-Irish Dictionary that was published recently. The interview was broadcast live online and questions were welcomed from the public regarding the important project they had undertaken. It was a very stimulating discussion and both were asked plenty of interesting questions about the team's approach to the project and the most difficult decisions they had to make during the process. The dictionary was a great achievement for all of the staff and they deserve high praise for putting together this resource that will be vital to the Irish language community for years to come.

Despite the difficulties we have had to overcome this year, we have managed to provide interesting events and excellent courses for learners all over the world and we look forward to the year ahead so that we can continue this work. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year!