Steps to Bilingualism

This section is designed to give companies and organisations an idea of how to approach making their organisation bilingual, or incorporating some Irish into their everyday business life. Using Irish in your business does not

Jimmy Griffin, Griffins Bakery and the Mayor of Galway, Cllr. Declan McDonnell unveiling Griffin’s Bakery’s bilingual shop front

automatically mean that you can conduct your business through Irish, and generally Irish speakers do not automatically assume that this is the case. Irish is often used in business as a marketing tool, and in Galway city in particular it is used to recognise a company’s Irish-speaking customers and to show courtesy to their language and the bilingual city environment.

These are general steps to guide companies, but Gaillimh le Gaeilge is happy to advise any company or organisation on the approach that would best suit their own circumstances.

Step 1: Make a plan
No company can or should change to bilingualism overnight, no matter what their resources are. The most effective way to become bilingual, or incorporate some Irish into your business, is to do it gradually over an agreed period of time, with goals set out in advance. Gaillimh le Gaeilge can help you make a plan in this regard through our ‘Irish in Business’ Service

Step 2: Start with the small stuff
We recommend that a company should start by identifying one area in which they can incorporate some Irish, and develop bilingualism in their company from there. For example a company could decide on a bilingual format for their stationery and when the company is printing new stationery in the next print run they can use the bilingual format.

• Use ‘Le dea-mhéin’ on your compliment slips – people will know what it means by association!
• Use your town/city name in Irish on your stationery – ‘Gaillimh’ is well known to mean Galway
• Encourage your staff to say ‘Slán’ on the phone – a small gesture but very effective!

Step 3: Be seen to be believed!

Match Programme for Galway United

Signage, whether external or internal, reflects the company’s brand, ethos and nature. It is often the first point of visual contact – for the retail sector, it plays a huge role in attracting customers into the business. Bilingual signage doesn’t have to take away from the brand or logo, if anything it can add a point of difference and interest.

  • Use ‘Gaillimh’ instead of Galway on the side of the sign.
  • Make some internal signs (that are printed in-house) bilingual – such as ‘Keep this area Clear / Coinnigh amach ón  limistéar seo.

For more tips, go to our page on Signage

Step 4: Extra Extra
Your extra marketing material is next. This is your advertising, brochures, leaflets, comment cards – basically anything you print or use to promote your business to clients and potential clients. When you are redesigning or reprinting material, ask your designer or printer to incorporate some Irish into the material. If you are short on space use bilingual headings, and perhaps some phrases in Irish throughout the leaflet / brochure. If you want the full effect, consider publishing your material bilingually. For layout and design advice, go to ‘Advice for Designers’

Some extra material includes:
Longer Documents (such as Annual Reports, Strategy Documents etc.)
Invoices, Bills & Order FormsDisplay and Exhibition MaterialWP_20160420_001
Point of Sale Material
Print Advertisements
Radio & TV advertisements


Step 5: Wonderful Websites
Your website is an increasingly important portal – and a great and easy place to show off your bilingualism! Whether you go for a fully bilingual website, or incorporate Irish onto some of your headings and text, we recommend that both languages are visible on most pages – so that those viewing the English will get a sense of the bilingualism, and vice versa.

Step 6: An bhfuil Gaeilge agat?
If you’re lucky enough to have Irish speakers working in your business, let your customers know! If the
Irish speakers in your company are comfortable doing their job through Irish (check with them first), then you have a great asset! Irish speakers generally appreciate the opportunity to do business through Irish, but they need to know who speaks Irish. Every company is different and will approach this differently, but perhaps you could display a picture of your Irish-speaking staff member with ‘Seirbhís i nGaeilge ar fáil’ underneath, or perhaps you may like to create a badge or some system of identification for Irish speakers.