The early history of the Irish Association for Applied Linguistics (IRAAL) / Cumann na Teangeolaíochta Feidhmí is linked to the establishment and development of the Institiúd Teangeolaíochta Éireann (ITÉ) and to the first Chairman of the ITÉ, the late Professor Conn Ó Cléirigh. The ITÉ was legally established in 1972, and staff were recruited into the ITÉ from 1974. In March, 1973, Ó Cléirigh reported to the third meeting of the ITÉ that the Association Internationale de Linguistique Appliquée (AILA) / International Association of Applied Linguistics had expressed an interest in the establishment of an Irish affiliate of AILA, and it was suggested that ITÉ could play a role in establishing this organisation. Further discussions were held in 1974, and the foundation meeting of the organisation was held on July 7, 1975. Seán Mac Íomhair and Clíona Mac Mathúna drafted a constitution for the organisation, and Carmel Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who was secretary of the ITÉ, took on the position of correspondence secretary. The practice of organising lectures for special topics and of having a lecture at the Annual General Meeting begain at this time, with a lecture from Carl James of Bangor on ‘Error Analysis’ in 1975, and an address from David Little at the first AGM in 1976. Seán Mac Íomhair served as the first president of IRAAL, and it was decided during his term of office to initiate the publication of proceedings from IRAAL conferences and seminars in the journal Teanga. Teanga 1 appeared in 1979; since that time, the journal has adopted an annual publication schedule, and a number of special volumes on specific topics have also been published by IRAAL.
In addition to the original close links with the ITÉ, IRAAL has always maintained an important relationship with AILA and with other groups such as the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB), British Association for Applied Linguistics (BAAL), Irish Translators’ Association, and others. In 1983, IRAAL hosted a meeting of the International Committee (IC) of AILA which coincided with IRAAL’s international conference on ‘Language Across Cultures’, while IRAAL again hosted the IC of AILA in 1994 to coincide with the major international conference on ‘Language, Education, and Society in a Changing World’. A joint IRAAL/BAAL symposium on ‘The Formal and Informal Contexts of Language Learning’ was held in Dublin in 1984, while a joint seminar with IRAAL and the LAGB, which covered a range of topics in theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, and the English language in Ireland, was held in Belfast in 1989. More recently, in 1997, IRAAL joined with the Applied Language Centre in University College Dublin to sponsor an international conference on ‘Languages for Specific Purposes and Academic Purposes – Integrating Theory and Practice’. IRAAL also maintains exchanges of publications with other applied linguistics organisations, and contributes to the database of the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, D.C.
The IRAAL Constitution specifies a number of officers of the organisation, including the President, Secretary, Treasurer, and general members of the Executive committee. Presidents of IRAAL have come from many different backgrounds, and are listed as follows: Seán Mac Íomhair, Clíona Mac Mathúna, David Singleton, Nora French, Liam Mac Mathúna, Jeffrey Kallen, Tina Hickey, Jennifer Ridley, Dónall Ó Baoill, Angela Chambers, Muiris Ó Laoire, Anna Ní Ghallachair, Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin, Mary Ruane, Lorna Carson and the current president, Susanna Nocchi.
Further information is available from the 20th anniversary address given by Dónall Ó Baoill and published in Teanglitir 22 (November 1995), as well as in various IRAAL publications.