Top 100 - 2011

Ethel Brogan

Born and raised in Armagh City, Northern Ireland, Ethel Brogan immigrated to America in 1946, living at first in New York City before eventually settling in upstate New York with her husband, Liam. As a child, Brogan absorbed herself in the Irish language and culture, living in a Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district) for a month every summer. As an adult living in America, she held on to her Irish roots by teaching Irish-language classes to her neighbors. However, Brogan quickly realized once-a-week classes were not enough to learn the language. Recalling her summers in a Gaeltacht, in March 1981 she planned the first “Gaeltacht Weekend,” with students coming from her class as well as other local classes. An immediate success in bringing the language to life, Brogan planned another weekend and another, eventually founding Daltaí na Gaeilge, a not for profit organization dedicated to teaching and promoting the Irish language.

Thirty years on, Brogan and Daltaí na Gaeilge are still going strong. Now in her 80s, she still runs the organization. Today, Daltaí na Gaeilge runs immersion programs in New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and sends its teachers to immersion programs across North America. In February 2011, Daltaí na Gaeilge was awarded First Prize in the International Competition by Glór na nGael for promoters of the language outside of Ireland, the second time the organization has won the award.