Interests, power, and austerity in Irish- language policy 2008– 2018

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In order to examine how macro- level economic developments can contribute
to the decline of a minoritized language, this chapter examines the case of the Irish language in the wake of the 2008 economic crash and subsequent “Great Recession.” The disproportionately severe effects of neoliberal austerity measures on the Irish- language community are detailed, with particular emphasis being placed on the consequences of such policies for the language’s heartland areas (collectively known as the “Gaeltacht”). The chapter initially discusses the nature of neoliberalism and its crash in 2008, before examining how this affected both overt and covert Irish- language policy. The findings of ethnographic research conducted in some of the strongest remaining Gaeltacht communities between 2014 and 2016 are then discussed to add empirical weight to the policy analysis presented in the first half of the chapter. The effects of large- scale unemployment, intensive out- migration, the intersection of economic disruption and gendered aspects of language maintenance, as well as the increased use of English- language technologies as “surrogate child minders” by Irish- speaking parents are all detailed. Language revitalization policies, it will be argued, are fundamentally contraindicated to neoliberal policy prescriptions, and as such the Irish language received proportionally much greater cutbacks than other sectors in the post- 2008 period, which was used as an opportunity to implement a large scale “roll- back” of state support for this sector.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterests and Power in Language Management
EditorsMarek Nekula, Tamah Sherman, Halina Zawiszová
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9783631864678
ISBN (Print)9783631860618
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2022

Publication series

NamePrague Papers on Language, Society and Interaction / Prager Arbeiten zur Sprache, Gesellschaft und Interaktion
PublisherPeter Lang


  • Irish
  • Gaeltacht
  • minority languages
  • language policy
  • neoliberalism
  • austerity
  • language shift


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