THE PRESIDENT of Ireland has marked the beginning of Seachtain na Gaeilge with a rousing speech paying tribute to our native language and culture.
Each year, Seachtain na Gaeilge encourages those who speak Irish-- or those who wish to learn-- to use their cúpla focal in everyday life.
Usually, there will be major events planned to help people foster their love of their native tongue, with community parties, school-wide competitions and festivals across Ireland and the world.
Yesterday, marking the beginning of Seachtain na Gaeilge, President Higgins, himself a proud Gaeilgeoir, urged people to continue to use their language as much as possible even while current restrictions means it's not possible to gather and converse in groups.
Speaking as Gaeilge, President Higgins urged "tabhair an dara seans don teanga"-- give the language a second chance, referencing how our native tongue was almost driven to extinction during the colonisation of Ireland.
"Try it. Enjoy it.
"The Irish language is something to celebrate as part of our heritage."
He added that Seachtain na Gaeilge is "a festival for everyone", regardless of whether they are fluent in Irish, have just a few words or are completely new to the language.
The annual festivities allows us to celebrate that we have "nurtured" and kept safe the language as a community throughout the centuries "despite the pressures of imperialism and the difficulties and challenges of history".
President Higgins also paid tribute to the other languages and traditions which can now be found across Ireland, stating that Ireland is "multilingual and multicultural" and should be celebrated.
The current Irish president has long been a champion of the Irish language, having helped establish the country's only Irish-language channel, TG4, which now offers a multitude of documentaries, drama, and children's TV shows through Gaeilge.