Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type

Book Chapter


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Education, general, including:, *training, *pedagogy

Publication Details

In Hayes, N. and Walsh, T. (Eds.) (2022) Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland: Charting a Century of Developments (1921-2021), pp.75-99. Oxford: Peter Lang.


This chapter will give an overview of the history of naíonraí or Irish-medium preschool settings in Gaeltacht1 and non-Gaeltacht areas from their beginnings in the 1960s to date. The material for this chapter is based on desk research, interviews with the founding member of the naíonra movement and the personal involvement of the chapter authors. The rationale for establishing naíonraí will be described and the role of the pioneers who led the movement in the 1970s and 1980s will be analysed in light of their principles and philosophy. These principles are visible in the structures they set up to manage and promote naíonraí and in the resources they commissioned. These resources included children’s songs and rhymes based on the oral tradition, suitable for the urban environment as well as rural areas, and the provision and mediation of children’s books in Irish. A number of support agencies were set up and evolved over time, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. The current roles of support agencies in both the North of Ireland and the Republic will be examined and challenges facing the sector will be identified. Finally, proposals for the future direction of immersion early childhood education and care (ECEC) through the Irish language will be made, including the need for specialized training, evaluation of current practice, and cooperation among all participants and stakeholders.



No funding received