I was attracted to the "Sean-bheaeric" visitor centre because of its clean attractive appearance and the extensive Irish Language signage. Irish culture is a strong selling point for visitors to the Donegal Gaeltacht,though the language is clearly in decline in Falcarragh. (I am an Irish language enthusiast) As my wife was not feeling well we called in for a cup of tea, and deliberately chose the centre because of its apparently strong Irish language promotion . As a notice in Irish on the wall invited visitors to use the language, I spoke to the very pleasant young girl who served me "as Gaeilge"( in Irish.) She was clearly embarrassed and explained to me that she did not have much of the language, however she struggled to use the few words she had, for which I would commend her. The tea and scones we ordered arrived commendably quickly, they were quite tasty and reasonable value.
However what happened when I went to pay was unpardonable. I spoke to the middle-aged lady at the till in Irish which she clearly understood. However she seemed to regard use of the language as at best an embarrassment if not a downright nuisance. She answered me at all times in English. As she turned her back on me I called her back and suggested she take down the notice inviting customers to use Irish as it clearly was not welcome.
I have no doubt that funds from Irish Language Organisations were used to fund the restoration of this building and a cavalier,even hostile attitude to Irish speakers is a poor return on their investment . If the centre is interested in using the language as a selling point it would surely not be difficult to train all staff to use the Irish language terms printed in the menu and on a few basic phrases involved. Above all a sea change in attitude to the language from certain of the staff would be welcome. .After my experience in the cafe I did not use the combined Tourist Information and souvenir shop so I cannot comment on it . I guess I deserved what I got for accessing a building which is essentially a shrine to a repressive force who evicted starving peasants and their families and flung them and their belongings on the roadside.
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