Scottish Gaelic and Gaelainn of Corca Dhuibhne merged last week as a group from Oileán Leodhais (the Isle of Lewis) visited the people of West Kerry to share their experiences and learn from each other.
The inks between Corca Dhuibhne and the predominantly Gaelic Bragar and Arnol area of the Isle of Lewis date back to 2005 when a group of 20 people from West Kerry were very well received there while making a documentary about naomhoga, titled Ciaróga Dubha Chiarraí (the black beetles of Kerry).
Contact has been maintained since then and over the past week a group of five Lewis Islanders traveled to West Kerry to find out more about life and culture here.
They visited Scoil Dhún Chaoin and Comharchumann Chorca Dhuibhne, Oifigeach Pleanála Teanga Cristín de Mórdha told them about ongoing efforts to strengthen the Irish language in Dingle, and they visited South Kerry and Brandon Gaeltachtaí.
“They wanted to see how we run community projects and they were very interested to see what we were doing here in the West Kerry Gaeltacht,” said Micheál de Mórdha, who was on this first trip to Bragar and Arnol.
During a gathering at the Kruger pub in Dún Chaoin on Friday evening, Murdo Morrison of Bragar and Arnol Community Trust told the Kerryman that “learning from each other and working together” was the main purpose of the visit.
Bragar and Arnol, which has a population of around 500 mainly Gaelic speakers, shares many similarities with West Kerry. Many people work in tourism and related industries, farming (crofting) remains important but often as a second job, an increasing number of people work remotely in IT and, like West Kerry, they also have a distillery recently established.
They also share some of the disadvantages: their local Gaelic-speaking population is under pressure, essential services such as shops, post offices and petrol stations have closed and the “exorbitant” cost of transport between the Scottish mainland and the islands has a significant impact on the cost of living.
Murdo said he thought West Kerry seemed to be doing a good job of supporting the Irish language. “Community support for the language is very impressive. In my community, we need more of that,” he said.
He added his thanks to Micheál de Mórdha, Anne Marie Nic Gearailt and the people of West Kerry “who always made us feel very welcome” and said there would be an open door in Bragar and Arnol for visitors to Corca Dhuibhne .