part of the curriculum in all public schools and requires that public employees demon-
strate fluency in the language. Pretty much everyone in Ireland is fluent in English, with
the possible exception of a few very elderly folks in the western counties.
The dark green regions on the map are known as the gaeltacht , or the Irish-speaking
portion of Ireland. Heavily concentrated in the western counties of Kerry, Galway, and
Donegal, these regions are the last remaining locations where you can hear Irish used as
an everyday language in shops and on the street. Though small, these areas are enorm-
ously productive in terms of literature and music, which helps to keep the Irish language
alive and relevant in the modern world.
Sadly, the younger generation in Ireland generally sees itself as part of a cosmopolitan,
unified Europe, and they don't show as much interest in the Irish language as their par-
ents and grandparents did. But as long as public efforts to sustain the language remain
strong, it will stay alive and its ancient literary and cultural heritage will not be lost to