Culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín was in Derry on Wednesday to launch the Líofa 2015 strategy to encourage people to become fluent in Irish.
The minister launched the strategy at Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin along with a numebr of the people who have already signed up to improve their Irish.
Ms Ní Chuilín said that she had originally hoped that 1,000 people would sign up for the strategy but that as 915 have already pledged to support it, she is now hoping for as many as possible.
“I am really proud of this project, This is about the development and promotion of the language. Already we have had people from all walks of life signing up. We have grandparents, young people, members of the PSNI, and people from all the statutory agencies. I want to see as many people as possible getting the gold fainne by 2015,” she said.
The minister also said she has signed up herself. “I am the only one in my house that is not Líofa. I am fed up of my family switching to English when I walk in the room,” she added.
Well known local gaeligeoir Risteard MacGabhann also spoke at the launch and recounted his own experience of learning Irish from the founders of the craobh in Derry and his pride at the strength of the language in the city today.
The Líofa strategy has also attracted the support of members of Destined, a support group for adults with learning difficulties. It is thought to be the first time such a group has participated in organised Irish language courses.
Michael Cole from the group said; “I did not have any Irish before Destined started the classes three years ago and I am hoping to gain fluency and the benefits that brings,” he said.
Irish language classes for beginners are available at An Cultúrlan and at Cumman Gaelach Chnoc na Rós.