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Saol Ella, TG4's teen drama series, introduces the first-ever Irish Sign Language version of an Irish language TV drama


Pic: Ciara Cox (Saol Ella) & Niamh Ní Chróinín (Cúla4)

Saol Ella, a six-part drama series for teenagers, proudly marks the debut of an Irish Sign Language (ISL) broadcast version, making it the first-ever Irish language TV drama production to do so. The Irish Sign Language (ISL) broadcast edition was launched today (Tuesday, 27th February 2024) during a reception hosted at the Irish Deaf Village in Dublin 7.
Saol Ella is a Danú Media Production for TG4 and Cúla4 (TG4’s children’s channel) and was written by Ailbhe Nic Giolla Bhrighde and Gemma Breathnach. It brings fun and light hearted drama to our screens and is aimed at a teenage audience. It tells a funny and engaging story about teenage life, bringing back summer memories for many Gaeilgeoirí who attended Coláistí Samhraidh to improve their Irish language skills.
By developing the Irish Sign Language (ISL) broadcast version, TG4/Cúla4 and Danú Media are at the forefront of introducing ISL broadcast TV adaptations of TV dramas. This initiative aims to contribute to the strategy of fostering a more inclusive Irish society for individuals with deafness or hearing loss, spanning across all age groups.
It is estimated that there are approximately 5,000 people in the Irish deaf community whose first language is Irish Sign Language (ISL). In addition estimates show that there are over 5,000 deaf and hard of hearing young people in Irish primary and secondary schools and while the majority are not ISL users, many of these young people will identify with Saol Ella’s lead character Ella, thus motivating more young people with hearing challenges to learn ISL.
Saol Ella, its characters and Sign Language interpreters will bring significant awareness to the young Irish deaf community while also creating greater recognition amongst Ireland’s wider population. Present at today’s ISL launch was teenage actor Ciara Cox who plays the lead character, Ella along with Cúla4 TV presenter Niamh Ní Chróinín amongst many others.
As part of this pioneering TV drama project for ISL broadcast, Danú Media in its production worked exclusively with Irish Sign Language Interpreter and Gaeilgeoir, Romy O’ Callaghan, to create the ISL version of Saol Ella. Danú Media also engaged with the Irish Deaf Society and Chime with the aim of creating high quality TV drama which will be totally inclusive, entertaining and engaging for the deaf community.
“Saol Ella was an exciting and fun teenage drama series to create and produce” says Siobhán Ní Ghadhra, Series Producer and Danú Media MD. “Creating an ISL version was a new challenge for us but a very rewarding one with the opportunity to work with Sign Language Interpreters. As the first ISL Irish Language drama broadcast we’re very proud to be leading the continued development of ISL in TV broadcasting to create greater inclusion for the deaf community at all ages.”
The Irish Sign Language (ISL) version of the series is supported by Coimisiún na Meán through its Sound and Vision Funding Scheme. Media Development Commissioner Rónán Ó Domhnaill said, “Coimisiún na Meán is delighted to support the production of the Irish Sign Language (ISL) version of Saol Ella, originally part funded through the Sound & Vision Funding Scheme. This is an excellent example of the type of great programming that is supported through the Scheme with the aid of the Television Licence Fee. We congratulate Danú Media Teo and the extended team for their work and increasing accessibility to this excellent series.”
TG4’s Commissioning & Acquisition’s Editor, Siobhán Ní Bhrádaigh says “We’re very proud to be launching an ISL version of Saol Ella. Our sincere congratulations to Danú Media who have worked hard to create this great series and ISL version. We hope to add to our library of ISL content in the future with content for pre-school and early school years also.”
Danú Media in its development of the ISL version of the drama series Saol Ella also engaged with Chime, the charity, which since 1964, champions supports for all people in Ireland’s deaf community and for those with hearing loss. Chime commented, “It is fantastic that Saol Ella is available with Irish Sign Language. This is the first Irish language drama series that has been broadcast with ISL. This is not only a boost for young deaf people who use ISL, but also helps grow awareness amongst the wider population and helps build a more inclusive society. TG4/Cúla4 is leading the way in this space and now we hope other broadcasters will follow their example.”
Saol Ella’s Irish Sign Language (ISL) version will broadcast weekly on Cúla4 (TG4’s children’s channel) starting on 29th February at 1pm. The full boxset will also be available on Cúla4 and TG4 Players this coming Thursday.

Follow Cúla4’s and Saol Ella’s social media channels for more updates.


Media Contact in TG4:
Áine Lally | TG4 Communications Manager |

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