Article in partnership with Day Interpreting. Irish language interpreting can be used in a variety of situations in Ireland, from attending a court hearing to discussing pay and appraisals with employees, to talking to a medical professional during a consultation.
Language interpreters in Ireland need to join the appropriate organisation, the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association, which evaluates candidates’ skills and proficiency.
This is to ensure that interpreters have the correct qualifications and have the correct credentials to be able to work.
Learning the Irish Language Is Learning About History
When you learn the Irish language you get to know so much about Ireland’s rich history and culture. With its origins in the Celtic group of languages, Irish or Gaelic is similar to the languages spoken in nearby Wales and Scotland. Even though there are variations of the Irish language, what is being spoken today and what is being taught at school is a standardised version.
Since the times of Henry VIII in the 1500s English replaced Irish in formal written documents.
This continued for centuries until the 20th century, more specifically from 1916 onwards when the Irish people fought for independence from the English, culminating in 1922 with the creation of the Republic of Ireland. This historic event gave more visibility and importance to the Irish language, which became an official language spoken in the Republic alongside English.
Meanwhile, there have been several government initiatives over the years to boost the use of the Irish language; there are even ambitious quantitative targets of total number of Irish speakers in Ireland. However, time will tell if and how these plans will come to fruition.
The Future of the Irish Language
An interesting article from the newspaper Independent.ie talks about of both the boom and the demise of the Irish language. While in absolute terms there has been a decline in the number of people in Ireland who can speak Irish and use it on a regular basis, especially among the over 40s, there is also a counter-trend that is seeing more schools and colleges promoting the Irish language among students. The State is offering generous funding to education institutions to give Gaelic more visibility and widen its reach to a new generation.
Because the Irish language is closely link to Ireland’s culture and history, it is unlikely that it will die down. It is an essential part of the Irish people’s identity. In fact, in recent years the Irish language has seen a renaissance with more authors embracing it in novels and poetry. In Ireland there is even a State broadcast channel called TG4 which shows programmes exclusively in Gaelic.
Working as an Irish Language Interpreter
The most lucrative work opportunities for Irish speakers are to be found in EU institutions, because Irish is one of the official languages of the Union.
Irish language interpreters can choose to work either as freelancers or through an agency, but also there is a third option of working as an employee for an institution. There are pros and cons for freelancing and agency work, but mainly with regards to freelancing, unless an interpreter is extremely good at marketing and networking, getting regular paid jobs can be difficult. On the other hand, working through an agency can potentially guarantee a steady income but at a cost as the interpreter will get a fee net of the agency’s commission.
Working as an employee for an institution, for example for a European organisation in Brussels, can be a great way to have a stable salary and perks. The downside of working in this context is that competition to access these jobs is fierce to say the least so only the best in the business are likely to secure a role. However, because very few people have the right experience and qualifications to offer interpretation to and from Gaelic, chances of securing a EU job as an Irish interpreter are higher than, say, an English interpreter, because the Irish language is spoken by a smaller pool of people.
The European Union has a generous budget to promote language diversity, which means that the Irish language and jobs related to it can attract considerable funding.