Irish language upgraded by the European Union

Irish became one of the 24 official languages in the European Union in 2007, but had not been granted a working language status until now. The demand for Irish language translators is skyrocketing, and the supply of Irish language education is on the rise. To coincide with 100 years of self-governance for the Republic of Ireland, the EU has set the completion date of the Irish language transition period for 2022.


Irish, often referred to as Gaeilge, became the official language of the Republic of Ireland in 1937. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the Irish Government notified the EU of its desire to be recognized as an official language in the European Union.

“We at Agnew are ready to translate and re-create your marketing materials in Irish/Gaeilge. According to an Irish in Business 2017 survey, it is possible that the increased use of Irish in advertising will generate greater interest and confidence in using the language in other business communications,” said Irene Agnew, company president.

Translators Needed

According to a top ranking EU official, “we had no translation capacity to deliver all required documents in Irish in 2007, that’s why the Irish government agreed for the transition period”. As a working language in the EU, the Irish language will be given a special legal status that requires all written communications between the EU and the Republic of Ireland be in Gaeilge. Irish language translators are thrilled at the huge increase in demand for their services. The upgraded designation is expected to create over 180 full-time jobs for translators and interpreters with an average salary above €100,000 a year.

Further Education

But the reality is that less than 2% of the Irish population are Gaeilge native speakers. The Irish Government has responded to the discrepancy between supply and demand by developing the Advanced Irish Language Skills Initiative.

“Often, school students have felt there were only very limited careers arising out of Irish language studies,” said Sean Kyne, Minister for Gaeltacht Affairs. “This is a wonderful opportunity to pursue a rewarding international career and to raise the profile of our national language across Europe.”

Headed by the Republic of Ireland’s Department of the Gaeltacht, the Advanced Irish Language Skills Initiative (AILSI) has devised a series of university-level courses aimed at developing the skills needed to fill the jobs being created in the EU. The Department of the Gaeltacht’s main focus is the economic, social, and cultural progress of Irish society. With a focus on specialized training for Irish language legal terminology and foundation classes in EU politics and policy, the AILS hopes to increase the vitality of the Irish language in both Ireland and the European Union.