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"Rionn na Gaeilge, Coláiste Mhaolmhaodhóg. The Irish Language has a very strong tradition in St. Malachy's... "



The Irish language has a very strong tradition in St Malachy’s College, and we, the Irish department believe it is our duty to preserve and uphold this strong tradition, fostering and nurturing the students to use the language both inside and outside of the classroom. In recent years throughout the economic downturn the Irish language sector has remained an area of prosperity with many opportunities available for Irish graduates / Irish speakers.


The Irish department aims to support the whole curriculum, whilst being a subject in its own right. We aim to teach the language in a meaningful context, providing students with experience of using Irish creatively and with confidence. We seek to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in accordance with the requirements of the Revised Curriculum for Northern Ireland. 

Specific Aims of the Department


Mrs E Douglas (Head of Department)  

Mr E O'Neill


St Malachy’s Irish department offers many opportunities to use Irish outside of the classroom environment.  Our main extra-curricular club is An Cumann Gaelach (The Irish Society).  An Cumann Gaelach meet during lunch time on a Tuesday.  The main aim of An Cumann Gaelach is to practice any vocabulary learned in class in a fun and enjoyable way.  Students partake in competitions, quizzes etc. and prizes are often awarded.  We have also hosted Irish medium dramas for local Gaelscoileanna which proved to be very successful.


In the Irish Department, we believe that it is important for older boys to become involved in departmental activities and become good role models for our junior students.  Year 13 and Year 14 students in the past have taught Irish classes for beginners, mentored junior boys who are underachieving in Irish and have helped out with Irish medium students.  They also organise events at An Cumann Gaelach and have given talks on the importance of attending Gaeltacht summer courses.


Students are often encouraged to use Irish as much as possible on the sporting field and each year we hold an Irish language soccer tournament for students of Irish to raise money for Trócaire.  We have also had University of Ulster students teach hurling through the medium of Irish. 

We run a departmental enrichment scheme for various year groups to enhance their learning experience of Irish. 


  • Year 8 – Trip to An Chultúrlann to order food through the medium of Irish

  • Year 9 – Skyline tour of Croke Park and visit to Croke Park museum through the medium of Irish

  • Year 10 – Gael Linn Quiz and Ceilí

  • Year 11 – Overnight residential to the Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht where the boys engage in water sports and cultural excursions etc. through the medium of Irish.

  • Year 12 – Gael Linn quiz

  • Year 13/14 – Local quizzes and events, students are encouraged to engage with the language as much as possible any many attend various classes to enhance their understanding of the language.

The Irish department aims:


  • To foster a knowledge and love of the Irish language throughout the school and to develop the pupils’ ability to speak Irish.

  • To give our pupils a knowledge and appreciation of our cultural heritage, through the study of the Irish language, place names and family names, literature, music, songs, dancing and games.

  • To ensure that pupils achieve their full potential in

  • public examinations.

  • To make language learning an enjoyable, intellectually stimulating and successful experience and thus encourage positive attitudes to the learning of other modern languages.

  • To develop an awareness of the nature of language learning in general.

  • To develop the language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and transferable skills, e.g. memorising, analysing, drawing of inferences, etc.

  • To ensure that all children have a knowledge of simple, traditional Irish prayers in keeping with the ethos of the school.

  • To familiarise students with the Gaeltacht areas of Ireland, making them aware that Irish is a living and developing language, which is enjoying a revival in north Belfast at this present time.

  • To develop strategies to help in the delivery of Personalised Learning.

  • To use ICT resources as a means of supporting pupils’ learning, both inside and outside the classroom.

  • To develop Industrial Links highlighting the relevance of Irish in the local economy.

  • Within the Irish Department, we believe that language learning should:

  • Involve the pupils in activities where they communicate and co-operate with others.

  • Develop both oral and written communication skills.

  • Provide insight into how languages work.

  • Assist in the development of thinking skills.

  • Provide opportunities to develop Citizenship links.

  • Help pupils to reach a better understanding of themselves and others.

  • Provide pupils with a potential career asset in an increasingly competitive and expanding global economy.


Key Stage 3

In Years 8 – 10 pupils cover a broad range of topics listed below. Also by the end of year 10 students are expected to have detailed knowledge of the past, present and future tenses in Irish both regular verbs and irregular verbs.


Bliain 8


  • Beannachtaí

  • An Seomra Ranga

  • Mé Féin

  • An Teaghlach

  • Uimhreacha agus an t-Am

  • An scoil

  • An Teach

  • Bia agus Deoch


Bliain 9


  • Caitheamh Aimsire agus Spórt Gaelach

  • Laethanta / Míonna / Séasúir / An Aimsir

  • Saol na Scoile

  • V.S.R

  • Sláinte

  • Bia / Béilí / Siopadóireacht

  • V.S.O



Bliain 10


  • Saoire agus an Ghaeltacht

  • Saol an Uile Lae (Aimsir Láithreach)

  • Mé féin agus daoine eile

  • Teach agus Ceantar

  • Siopadóireacht

  • An Briathar “Tá”

  • Pleananna don todchaí (aimsir Fháistineach)


As part of Seachtain na Gaeilge, Irish students in St Malachy’s have the opportunity to have their hard work and enthusiasm for the Irish language rewarded at the school’s annual Bronnadh na bhFáinní (Fáinne Presentation).

There is a strong tradition of Irish in the College, and this is reflected in the high number of certificates awarded at the annual ceremony.  Each level of fluency is recognised in the scheme, with Year 8 boys achieving their Cúpla Focal and Year 9 boys achieving their Bunteastas.  Year 10 students sit their Fáinne Airgid exam and Year 11 boys have the opportunity to try for either Meánteastas or Meánteastas Uachtar.  Boys from varying year groups are given the opportunity to obtain a prestigious Fáinne Óir in recognition of their high level of fluency, and some go one step further in obtaining an Ardteastas.  This is the highest accolade available and recognises complete fluency and excellence in Irish.  


Irish-medium students complete their GCSE Irish by the end of Year 10. 

In Year 11 and 12 Irish-medium students follow the programme of study for GCSE Gaeilge, sitting exams in May/June of Year 12.

AS and A2 level are completed in Year 13 and Year 14 alongside non Irish-medium students.

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