NVCC member organisation Gaeloideachas is often approached by agencies and other partners in the ECEC sector for advice on how to make documents available in Irish. Here are their practical tips to help you to navigate the process.

What needs to be translated?

It is best practice to make all resources for staff, parents or children in an ECEC setting available in Irish for use in Irish-medium services.

Providing resources for staff in their working language is vital. It helps to develop their fluency and professional language, to reinforce the language ethos of the service and to promote diversity and inclusion in the ECEC sector. It shows respect for the work they do, and reduces the administrative workload for staff who might otherwise need to provide their own translations.

Gaeloideachas recommends that resources for parents in Irish-medium settings be provided bilingually. It helps to reinforce the language ethos of the service and to promote language awareness. Many Irish-medium ECEC services will only disseminate resources to parents if they are available in Irish or bilingually as a matter of policy.

Irish-medium ECEC services practice total early immersion – this means that all communication with the children is through Irish, regardless of their home language. Gestures, repetition, images, songs and rhymes help to convey meaning and allow the children to acquire the language naturally rather than through any formal teaching or learning. All resources provided for use with children in an ECEC setting need to be provided in Irish, and may need to be adapted rather than directly translated to fit with the immersion method.

Who is responsible, and who covers the cost?

The organisation publishing the resource is also responsible for translation. Organisations that come under the Official Languages Act may have a legal obligation to ensure that the resource is made available in Irish.

There is no additional funding available for translations. It should be factored into the overall budget for the project, including any additional design costs if required.

Neither Gaeloideachas nor Comhar Naíonraí na Gaeltachta, the support organisation for naíonraí in Gaeltacht areas, have the resources to offer translation or proofreading services. Gaeloideachas is happy to offer advice on the process, however, and where time allows, to check the final version for readability.

Translation services

Use an accredited translator and provide them with notes on terminology and style as appropriate. The DCEDIY have a glossary of terms that would be a useful resource for any translator; contact Brian Phelan in the Early Years Division for an up-to-date version.

You’ll find a list of freelance accredited translators here: https://www.forasnagaeilge.ie/about/supporting-you/seala/?lang=en

Conradh na Gaeilge, an Irish-language NGO, offers a translation service and you’ll find details here: https://cnag.ie/en/translation/faqs-about-our-translation-service.html

Development, design and layout

There is no need to translate drafts as you go, it is better to wait until you have the final version.

However, if Irish-medium ECEC services are to be consulted on the development of the resource, consider sending an Irish version of the draft. That way, the sector can be confident that their needs will be taken into account, and it gives an opportunity to agree appropriate terminology. Where this is not feasible, circulate any drafts with a courtesy note to say that the final version will be available in Irish.

Consider whether a bilingual or single-language layout is more appropriate for the final document. Gaeloideachas would advise bilingual where possible, especially for soft-copy publications. It promotes language awareness and allows for some content language integrated learning (CLIL). It also ensures that the Irish version will be updated in line with the English version.

There are cost implications for hard-copy publications, however, so Gaeloideachas advise consulting with them and/or CNNG to help you to decide on the appropriate format for the bilingual or Irish version.

Always include a note in the English version to advise whether or not a version in Irish is available.

Publish the final version in Irish with a note to say that in the event of any discrepancies, the English version is considered to be the primary text, or vice versa as appropriate.

What if there will not be an Irish version?  

Where a document or resource will not be made available in Irish for whatever reason, Gaeloideachas suggest including a note to say so as a matter of course, along with contact details for queries. It goes a long way towards promoting language awareness, and will help to identify where there might be demand for something in Irish.

Sample wording

Tá leagan Gaeilge de seo ar fáil ach teagmháil a dhéanamh linn (Contact us for a version in Irish)

Tá leagan Béarla de seo ar fáil ach teagmháil a dhéanamh linn (Contact us for a version in English)

Is oth linn nach bhfuil leagan Gaeilge ar fáil de seo faoi láthair (We’re sorry, this is not currently available in Irish)

Cuirfear leagan Gaeilge de seo ar fáil ar [date] (A version in Irish will be available by [date])


For further information, contact clare@gaeloideachas.ie