A Russian man has been appointed as an Irish language officer in a Kerry Gaeltacht and will spearhead attempts to revive the language there.

Victor Bayda, a native of Moscow, has taken up the post with Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh, a community organisation in the south Kerry Gaeltacht of Uíbh Ráthach.

Mr Bayda is fluent in Irish and has been teaching the language in a Moscow university for more than ten years.

He speaks up to ten languages including Dutch, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, Swedish, French, German and Icelandic.

He was awarded a PhD for a thesis that dealt with aspects of the Irish language.

Mr Bayda, who made the journey from Moscow to Kerry at the weekend, says he began learning the language while attending university, but that he was aware of its existence as a young teenager.

He said: "I have had an interest in languages since I was 13, especially the Celtic languages. I had learned some Welsh and Scots Gaelic by the time I went to university.

"It was then I discovered that Irish was available and I signed up for the course.

"I also picked up a lot of Irish from listening to the language on TG4 and Raidió na Gaeltachta. Then I had an opportunity to study in Trinity College where I first heard Irish as a living, breathing language."

Funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta, Mr Bayda will be tasked with implementing a comprehensive language plan aimed at arresting the decline of the language on the peninsula.

Uíbh Ráthach (the Iveragh peninsula) is renowned for its rich folklore and linguistic heritage, however the south Kerry Gaeltacht is now struggling.

According to the most recent Census in 2016, just 7% of the Gaeltacht population speak Irish on a daily basis outside the education system.

However, over 60% of the population there claims to have the ability to speak Irish.

Mícheál Ó Leidhin of Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uíbh Ráthaigh says he understands why the appointment of a Russian as a language planner in a Kerry Gaeltacht might raise a few eyebrows, but that the committee is delighted that Mr Bayda accepted the offer.

Mr Ó Leidhin said: "Victor is one of the finest Irish speakers you'll ever meet. Completely fluent. He is highly qualified and possesses tremendous expertise in the whole area of language planning.

"These are skills we badly need in this area if Irish as a community language is to be saved. We are confident that we have found the right man."

Mr Bayda says he was attracted to the position in south Kerry as it was the ideal opportunity to come to Ireland and engage with the language he loves on a professional basis.

"Irish is such a beautiful language and is well worth learning. It's a different way of thinking and the language allows you to express yourself in creative ways not possible in most major European languages. It's certainly a language worth saving and holding on to," he said.

Mr Bayda is one of ten Irish language planning officers appointed in Gaeltacht areas so far.

The Údarás na Gaeltachta-funded initiative is aimed at providing a vital linguistic support framework for Gaeltacht communities.

It is hoped detailed language plans will be agreed and operating in 26 'language planning areas' by the end of this year.

Údarás na Gaeltachta has committed €1.49m to the implementation of the first 13 language plans.