A visit to summer colleges Coláiste Chonnacht and Coláiste Lurgan in Galway to find out what life is like for students learning Irish.

Sean Ó Neachtain of Coláiste Chonnacht in An Spidéal, County Galway, says the pupils attending the Irish college

Notice that this language is a living language and they can partake in the language even though they might have only a small command of the language coming here.

Attending the summer college helps students gain confidence in speaking the Irish language and they can build upon this when they return to school after the summer.

Pupils at Coláiste Chonnacht are not only happy with the course content but also make friends for life there. Teacher Rachel Ní Phelan explains why she loves the college and outlines the numerous activities pupils can participate in during their stay.

For Mícheál Ó Foighil, manager of Coláiste Lurgan in Indreabhán, County Galway, the objective of Irish college is to facilitate an improvement in spoken Irish while at the same time providing a fun and safe holiday for the students.

Scholars attending the summer colleges are beneficial to the local economy in Connemara. As well as the students attending courses, their parents and friends often visit and as adults, many students return to holiday in the area.

A number of students attending Irish college lodge with landlady known as a 'bean an tí'. Bean an tí Jenny Ní Fhatharta takes in a number of student for the duration of their course. While this is not a great money spinner, Jenny breaks even. Bean a tí Bríd Breathnach is on hand to deal with the emotional side of Irish college life as she notes,

A lot of people I think have their first romances when they come to the Coláiste Gaeilge and I think that’s one of the things that stay with them forever.

Irish college past pupils agree they gained a good experience of the language with one man noting,

The people were very nice, the language is difficult, but we had a lot of laughs.

The episode of ‘Nationwide’ was broadcast on 18 July 1997. The reporter is Joe Woods.