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Gaeltacht (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɡeːɫ̪t̪ˠəxt̪ˠ]; plural Gaeltachtaí) is the Irish language word meaning an Irish-speaking region. In Ireland, The Gaeltacht, or An Ghaeltacht, refers individually to any, or collectively to all, of the districts where the government recognizes that the Irish language is the predominant language, that is, the vernacular spoken at home.[1] These districts were first officially recognised during the early years of the Irish Free State, after the Gaelic Revival, as part of government policy to restore the Irish language.[2]



Although the Gaeltacht came into being in 1926 after the report of the first Coimisiún na Gaeltachta, the exact boundaries of that region were never accurately defined. The quota at the time was 25%+ Irish-speaking, though in many cases status was given to areas that were linguistically weaker than this. The Irish Free State recognised that there were Irish-speaking or semi-Irish-speaking districts in 15 of its 26 counties. Although there were areas of Northern Ireland that would have qualified as being Gaeltacht districts (in 4 out of its 6 counties) the Government of Northern Ireland did not pass any such legislation, and indeed behaved in a way that was very hostile towards the language. (The language was proscribed in state schools within a decade of partition, and public signs in Irish were effectively banned under laws by the Parliament of Northern Ireland, which stated that only English could be used. These were not formally lifted by the British government until the early 1990s.)[citation needed]

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