ALMOST €2.8m has been spent teaching people overseas how to speak Irish during the past five years, even as major cuts were made to other Irish-language funding.

The fund came close to €1m last year, the highest on record.

The money was paid out of the Ciste na Gaeilge fund and provides for the teaching of Irish in third-level institutions in a number of different countries around the world.

A significant increase in funding during 2009 came after a new programme was introduced with the Irish Canadian University Foundation to teach Irish there.

Almost 40 international colleges have been supported through the fund including Harvard and New York State in the US, Cambridge and Oxford in Britain, Poznan in Poland and Mannheim and Marburg universities in Germany.