TWO FAMILIES FROM Co Meath and Co Limerick have succeeded in securing rent free accommodation on Inis Meáin for nine months as part of an initiative to expand the number of schoolchildren on the island.
Raidió na Gaeltachta’s show Iris Aniar reported that 1,600 people expressed interest in the scheme, with the final four families having taken part in an interview on Inis Meáin on Friday.
Families were asked about their Irish abilities and why they wanted to live on the island.
Mairéad Ní Fhátharta, the caothairleach of Comhlacht Fobartha Inis Meáin (the Inis Meáin development body) and the principal of the island’s secondary school, said that she didn’t expect so many applications.
Speaking in Irish she said:
“It put a great image out there (of Inis Meáin) and big demand for a Gaeltacht area. Maybe it gave courage to other remote areas, that this can be done. We’ve had inquiries from other islands.”
Ní Fhátharta added that it was easier to source a house for the families for nine months because there is a high demand for houses on Inis Meáin for the summer.
“We were very taken with the four families who came for the interviews. If there were four houses available we would have brought them all here to stay.”
She said that a newly opened remote working hub as part of the Gteic scheme for Gaeltacht areas would make it easier for parents to work remotely.
Ní Fhátharta told The Journal last month that the response to the scheme had generated “huge interest from Canada”, and an Australian radio station has reached out to the Comhlacht to promote the scheme.
Also speaking on Raidió na Gaeltachta were the parents from one family who had been selected- Rónán and Colette Mac an tSaoir from Co Meath.
“I’m a software developer and Colette is a secondary and we’re raising our children with Irish. We have five children. When we saw the ad we knew it was the opportunity of a lifetime but we didn’t expect to win because we knew there would be a lot of applications,” Rónán said.
“In the end even if we hadn’t won we’re glad to have gone through it because of the experience and the effort we went to as a family.”
“The children are so happy to be going to the heart of the Gaeltacht and they are young enough that moving doesn’t bother them.”
He added that until the interview last week his family had never visited Inis Meáin or even Connemara but they had been on holidays to other Gaeltachts.
“I wasn’t worried about work because of Gteic, my employers said it was fine to work from there.”
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