Daithí de Buitléir on Borradh: Networking ‘As Gaeilge’

Podcast ep 29: We speak to Daithí de Buitléir, one of the founders of Borradh, a virtual gathering business people who want to network in Irish.

The preservation of the Irish language is a subject close to many people’s hearts. Just before Ireland went into Covid-19 lockdown Borradh, a brilliant new business network for Irish speakers, had held its first few physical gatherings but has maintained its mission by going virtual.

Daithí de Buitléir is one of the founders of Borradh explained: “Borradh is a community for Irish-speaking business leaders and innovators.”

“You could find yourself having a full-blown conversation in Irish with someone who could be a senior director of a Fortune 500 company”

He points out that across the entire business ecosystem there are many successful individuals fluent in the Irish language. “It’s a language that is very important to them. It’s a language that has a very positive affinity for them and they are looking for a contemporary context in which they can use that language.”

And certainly there is no better way than to bring these people together, to discover each other and do business. “What we’re doing is we’re bringing these people together and showing them that by using the language as a connection point that they can open up massive business opportunities. As well as their personal and professional development, there are also commercial opportunities that can exist between companies.”

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In his day job working at fast-growing digital business ParkOffice.io led by successful entrepreneur Garret Flower, de Buitléir found that spelling his name As Gaeilge would often be a conversation starter among Irish people who otherwise wouldn’t have had a context to practice their native tongue in a business setting.

“I’d be talking to prospective clients both here and at events in London or New York and people who would have an interest in the language would see my name and within 30 seconds or a minute you could find yourself having a full-blown conversation in Irish with someone who could be a senior director of a Fortune 500 company.”

Having experienced this on numerous occasions with people who spoke fluently, attended night courses or who remember what they learnt at the Gaeltacht many summers previous, de Buitléir decided there was an opportunity.

“I realised that there were lots of people like this all over, in big companies and in various industries, and it made it easier for them to build a rapport and build relationships. So, it’s an exciting time.

“We launched in March right before lockdown and we had 100 people, including senior leaders from companies like Google and Facebook and through the lockdown we’ve continued having lots of digital events and we’ve attracted a really diverse group of people.”

de Buitléir believes it is an exciting time to be an Irish speaker in Ireland at present. “There are 5,000 people coming out of the education system every year with fluency in the language. There is a different attitude to the language compared with 20 or 30 years ago. There are people like me for whom it is a natural everyday part of life. Over the weekends I don’t speak English at all. I play my sports in Irish. My personal relationships are in Irish.

“There are many people who have had a modern experience of Irish and I think that is something that is growing. And something we are increasingly going to see as part of business culture in Ireland moving forward,” said de Buitléir.

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 18 September, 2020