Lá Nua, the only Irish language newspaper published on a daily basis, has closed down due to a lack of funding.
Lá Nua, which means “New Day” in Irish, stopped its presses at the end of the year. The newspaper had been in print for more than 20 years, but according to Eurolang.net, there simply wasn’t enough demand to keep publishing it.
The newspaper was funded by Foras na Gaeilge, an organisation set up to promote the development of the Irish language and to serve as its governing body. According to Eurolang, the organisation stopped funding the paper because not enough people were reading it.
However, the paper’s managing director, Mairtin Ó Muilleoir, believes the decision was made too hastily. He is quoted as telling the Belfast Telegraph, “At a time when an Irish-speaking Gaeltacht Quarter is taking shape in west Belfast, the decision to stop publishing a daily newspaper is counterintuitive and unwise.”
According to Wikipedia, the newspaper had a circulation of “a few thousand” readers. The paper has been struggling for some time: according to this blog post, it almost closed in March of 2008, again due to funding issues.
While it’s definitely sad that Ireland no longer has a daily newspaper written in Irish, Foras na Gaeilge is going to replace Lá Nua with a weekly publication and a website. They’re currently looking for a company to publish it and offering a grant of 400,000 euros per year. If demand grows for a daily newspaper written in Irish, they might be willing to start funding for a daily paper again.
The closure of the paper is an excellent example of how hard it is to reverse the decline of a language once the process has started. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less of a worthwhile endeavour, but it does offer a lesson about the importance of encouraging language preservation before the situation becomes dire.