Campaign For More Irish Language Content On Netflix

For many people, 2020 has meant that we’ve been watching more films and TV than ever before. Extended lockdown periods mean that we’ve all had to rely on subscription services like Netflix to help us get through the time when we can’t leave our homes.

That also means we might be branching out in our viewing habits, especially if we’ve rinsed all the must-watch boxsets available.

As Irish Central recently pointed out, there is not much Irish language content available on the main streaming platforms, and now there is a campaign to change that.

Irish language speaker Kitty Ni Houlihan is behind the campaign, explaining to the news provider that she hopes that by encouraging the likes of Netflix to both buy and produce more Irish-language content, more people will be encouraged to learn the language.

She explained that when she has learned other foreign languages in the past she has found being able to access TV and film content in that language incredibly useful.

But there is another reason why she’s so keen for the likes of Netflix to provide more Irish language content.

“A friend of mine is Mexican and lives in Ireland and she said that getting to watch shows made in Mexico has been a really good way to remain connected to her heritage and culture. I think having Irish-language productions could really help that,” Ms Ni Houlihan said.

She also stressed that Netflix has produced and purchased a number of Icelandic series. Given that the population of Ireland is about ten times that of the population of Iceland, Ms Ni Houlihan is hopeful that the streaming service will see the value in Irish-language content.

There have been two Irish-language releases on Netflix since she launched her campaign: an Irish dub of the latest Spongebob Squarepants movie, and Black 47, a movie produced in the Irish language.

Ms Ni Houlihan noted that Black 47 in particular appears to have had an effect on people, with some of those who have watched it taking to social media to express their interest in relearning Irish having watched the film.

Of course, content in languages like Irish also needs to be subtitled to allow non-native speakers to enjoy it as well. Getting help with subtitling in Manchester will be important for any new productions that are hoping to break onto streaming sites like Netflix.

The BBC recently reported that a documentary about the life of Pogues singer Shane MacGowan would be subtitled ahead of its release, after those attending early screenings said it was difficult to make out what the Irish singer was saying at times.

Director Julien Temple told the news provider that it wasn’t his decision to add subtitles to the documentary, but that he understood that listening to the singer speaking could be “an acquired listening skill” at times, due to the mix of Irish and English he uses.

“We certainly knew that in the States we would have to possibly subtitle it. In the end it is a decision for the distributors to make,” Mr Temple stated.