How a new town would help

Analysing the causes of decline cited by Hindley, Shaping the Future & others, the following remedies are required to save the Irish language from extinction:

Apart from the mass-media, all the above points would be satisfied by this proposal. No one has yet proposed any alternative scheme which would satisfy these criteria.

To compensate for the lack of mass-media, I envisage that for the first few years the community being run like a cross between a holiday camp and a commune, with lots of organised entertainment designed to help people make friends. This should make it a lot easier to recruit and keep volunteers.

In the short term, the need for Irish-speakers who are not fluent in English could be met by bringing in non-English-speaking people and teaching them Irish. In the longer term, children will have to be raised without English. People will only do this if they are confident it will not disadvantage their children. Generating this confidence is so important that I've devoted a whole section to it.

Support for the Irish language is very broad in Irish society, but also very shallow. To stand any chance of being implemented, policies intended to support Irish must avoid alienating that support. Therefore only small numbers of people should be adversely affected by such policies. Moreover, those people should be seen to have been treated as fairly as possible. I believe this plan would also meet that constraint.

Shopping & leisure

From the start, sympathetic native-speakers from the local Gaeltacht should be encouraged to visit the town, use its facilities & socialise with the town's inhabitants. Once the town has grown large enough, any Irish-speaker in the surrounding area should be able to apply for a pass to enter the town to use the shopping & leisure facilities. Incentives should be offered to encourage them to spend their leisure time in the town. This would not only help create jobs in the town, but should encourage a more positive attitude to the language among local people fluent in Irish, by delivering real benefits to them. It should encourage them to speak Irish more often & to forge new social contacts with other Irish-speakers.

One incentive which might be offered is to issue the pass in the form of a smartcard which can be used as a credit card for part payment of goods & services. If, on each visit, the card was given a small credit which had to be used within 24 hours, and which was only valid for visits of more than 3 hours, this would encourage people to make frequent, lengthy visits. A more low-tech approach to getting people to make lengthy visits would be simply not to provide visitor parking, but to lay on special buses which don't run very frequently.

To make the town an attractive place to live & to visit, it should have good restaurants, cafes, pubs, shopping and sports facilities, all of which should be subsidised. The people running these could be paid according to the number of people who visit, rather than being paid out of the takings.