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Chapter 18: Sure Weren’t We Always Self-sufficient, Didn’t We Have to Be! Entrepreneurship in the Irish Gaeltacht
18 Sure weren’t we always self-suﬃcient, didn’t we have to be! Entrepreneurship in the Irish Gaeltacht Emer Ní Bhrádaigh Introduction While the English language might be the international language of business and communication, there are over 40 oﬃcially recognised indigenous minority languages in the European Union, one of which is the Irish language, spoken daily by fewer than 100 000 speakers. Since 1926, the Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking) regions of the Republic of Ireland have been designated for special support to improve the socio-economic and linguistic conditions. While there are 90 048 people living in these areas, a declining percentage can speak Irish or speak it regularly. The Gaeltacht regions are in seven counties, largely along the western seaboard, and are disadvantaged in terms of many common yardsticks such as location, infrastructure, education, socio-economic conditions, unemployment and the language itself. Numerous national and EU policy documents on entrepreneurship mention marginalised groups or ethnic groups but very rarely address minority language groups. However, since its foundation, the Irish state has provided speciﬁc industrial and enterprise development support to the Gaeltacht, initially through civil service departments and, since 1958, through state bodies. This chapter examines the patterns of entrepreneurship since the early twentieth century in the Gaeltacht in general with particular reference to the largest Gaeltacht area, Co Galway, which now has a population of over 40 000 and overlaps the boundaries of Galway city. As large-scale employment was absent in this Gaeltacht area, throughout the twentieth century there was...
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