Irish Exemption

Key Points to Note

  • A pupil is not allowed to be exempt from the study of Irish simply because he or she is dyslexic, or because they find the subject difficult.
    There are very specific criteria that must be met in order to secure an exemption.
  • Once the exemption has been granted it follows the student right through the school system and on to third level if appropriate.
  • Further information on the process and the relevant circulars are available at:
  • Also, check out our Learning Languages page for advice on how to learn languages with dyslexia, including some specific advice on resources to support learning Irish.

Application Process and Eligibility Criteria

  • An Irish exemption can be granted can be made once a child has reached at least second class and
    • present with significant learning difficulties that are persistent despite having had access to a
      differentiated approach to language and literacy learning in both Irish and English over time.
      Documentary evidence to this effect, held by the school, should include Student Support Plans

      • regular reviews of learning needs as part of an ongoing cycle of assessment
      • target-setting
      • evidence-informed intervention and review, including test scores (word reading, reading
        comprehension, spelling, other scores of language/literacy) at key points of review. and
    • at the time of the application for exemption present with a standardised score on a discrete test in
      either Word Reading, Reading Comprehension or Spelling at/below the 10th percentile.
  • Parents must make a written application to the School Principal on behalf of their child. The outcome of the application must be confirmed in writing within 21 school days of receipt of the application.
  • If the school principal grants the exemption, then a certificate is given to the parents. This should be kept safely as it will be required when the student transfers to second level school, and for applications for language exemptions at third-level.
  • For full details and all department guidelines on Irish exemption see

Accessing Third Level

  • The National University of Ireland and most third level institutions will recognise formal exemptions. These institutions will allow students with such exemptions to be exempt from college matriculation requirements regarding the number of language subjects a candidate is required to have.  However, there are still a few careers where Irish is a compulsory requirement, for example primary teaching. Some students circumvent this requirement by training as a teacher in the UK, and then completing an accredited conversion course in the Irish language.
  • Students with dyslexia should apply directly to third level institutions for an exemption from the matriculation language requirements. Contact the Disability or Access office to check the individual requirements of the college. Further information is available on our Accessing College and Further Education information page.
  • Be aware that some courses will require Irish or other languages, because they are integral parts of the course. A European Studies or Business course may require a modern European language.  In such cases where a language is an integral part of a course, it is obviously not possible to get an exemption. However, for most courses there exists a comparable course, in the same college or in another college, which offers the same core degree without the language component.
  • Please note that Irish is no longer required for entry to An Garda Síochana. Following changes in 2022, proficiency is now required in only one language, either English or Irish.

We believe this information is accurate, but readers are advised to check all details with the relevant authorities as the situation may change.