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17 Aug 2012

Bhí Méara Ard Mhacha, an Comhairleoir Sharon Ní Eachaidh, i láthair mar aoi speisialta le Féile an Átha Bhuí a lainseáil amuigh ar an Ghráinseach an tseachtain seo caite. Thréaslaigh an Méara an coiste deonach as an obair chrua a rinne siad leis an fhéile chultúrtha agus staire a reáchtáil agus ghabh sí comhghairdeas le pobal an cheantair atá ag déanamh tréaniarrachta oidhreacht stairiúil cheann de na himeachtaí is suntasaí a tharla in Ard Mhacha a chaomhnú.

Ba iad baill Chumann Staire Dhúiche Uí Néill a cheap Féile an Átha Bhuí sa bhliain 2009 le haird a dhíriú ar na mórimeachtaí a tharla le linn ‘Cogadh na Naoi mBliana’ a tharla in Éirinn sa séú agus sa seachtú céad déag. Troideadh an cogadh sin idir comhairm na dTaoiseach Gaeil, Ó Néill, Ó Domhnaill agus Mag Uidhir san áireamh, agus airm bhanríon Eilís Shasana agus ba é a thionscain Imeacht na nIarlaí sa bhliain 1607 agus plandáil Uladh a tharla ina dhiaidh.  

I measc na n-imeachtaí a eagraíodh i mbliana, bhí turais báid go hInis Dabhail ar Loch nEathach, comórtais camógaíochta agus iománaíochta, siúlóidí treoraithe staire, léachtaí agus seisiúin ceoil. Ba iad CAIRDE Teo, fiontraíocht shóisialta Gaeilge atá lonnaithe in Ard Mhacha, a chomhordaigh an fhéile le cúnamh airgeadais ó Fhoras na Gaeilge agus Ciste na bhFéiltí Pobail de chuid Chomhairle Chathair agus Cheantar Ard Mhacha. Bhí cuairteoirí i láthair ó Madrid agus ón Chatalóin, rud a léiríonn na féidearthachtaí turasóireachta a bhaineann le féilte den chineál seo le cuairteoirí ó chéin agus ó chóngar a mhealladh go Cathair Ard Mhacha agus an ceantar máguaird.

Cuireadh tús leis an fhéile le cur i láthair staire agus ceoil sa Clubtheach CLG ar an Ghráinseach agus thug Jim O’Neill, taighdeoir PhD ag Ollscoil na Ríona, Béal Feirste, thug sé léacht ar Chath Chluain Tionrad agus bhí neart ceoil, amhrán, dánta, rímeanna agus scéalta ó Chiorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha agus ó cheoltóirí an cheantair. Ba é an Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile, Ceannasaí ar Chláir Gaeilge ag an BBC a bhí mar fhear an tí.

Eagraíodh turas bus go Cluain Tiobrad ar an Satharn agus thug na rannphairtithe cuairt ar na láithreacha Catha sa cheantar agus fuair siad turas treoraithe thart ar an Ionad Fiadhúlra agus Oidhreachta i Lios Tine, Contae Mhuineacháin. Ar theacht ar ais go dtí an Ghráinseach dóibh, bhí féasta camógaíochta agus iomanaíochta ar siúl ar agus cuireadh clabhsúr leis an oíche le siamsaíocht ceoil a chuir CLG Naomh Colmcille ar siúl.

Ar an Domhnach, tháinig dream le chéile ag Cé Mhachaire agus chuaigh siad anon go hInis Dabhail ar currach, an modh taistil ceanna a bhíodh in úsáid i ré Uí Néill. Bhí roinnt stíleanna éagsúla currach ar fáil a bhuí le Cumann Oidhreacht Badóireachta Loch nEathach agus chinntigh scil, eolas agus ceardaíocht an chumainn gur bhain achan duine an oileán amach go slán sábháilte. Is é Peter McClelland an t-aon duine atá ina chónaí ar an oileán agus thug sé turas dóibh thart ar an oileán ag insint scéalta faoi stair, faoi sheanchas agus faoi dhúlra an oileain chomh maith leis na daoine a raibh cónaí orthu ann ar feadh na mblianta. Thug an Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile cur i lathair ar réamhstair an oileáin agus ar an bhaint atá aige le Taoisigh Ghaelacha Uladh.

Ba mhaith leis na heagraitheoirí CAIRDE Teo aitheantas agus buíochas a thabhairt do na heagraochtaí agus daoine a leanas a chuidigh go mór linn le féile rathúil a eagrú i mbliana le Cath an Átha Bhuí a chomóradh: Comhairle Chathair agus Cheantar Ard Mhacha; Foras na Gaeilge; CLG Naomh Colmcille, An Ghráinseach; Cumann Oidhreacht Badóireachta Loch nEathach; CLG Sheáin Mhic Diarmada, An Mhachaire; Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile; Colm Mac Gabhann; Julie Ní Néill; Chris Powell; Cumann Camógaíochta Naomh Bríd, Cumann Iománaíochta Cúchullain; CLG Uí Raithilligh; CLG Pádraig Sairséil; Mary Prunty; Eddie Ó Néill; An tArd Mhéara an Comhairleoir Sharon Ní Eachaidh; Jim O’Neill; Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha; Paul agus Ann Woods; Peter McClelland; Peadar Morgan agus Jerome McCarthy.

 

Lord Mayor, Cllr Sharon Haughey, was the guest of honour at the launch of the 2012 Yellow Ford Festival in the Co. Armagh village of An Ghráinseach last week. The Mayor paid tribute to the hard work of the volunteer committee who had brought the three day history and cultural festival to fruition and she also congratulated the local community for their efforts to preserve the historical legacy of some of the most significant events to have taken place in Armagh City and District.

The Yellow Ford Festival – Féile an Átha Bhuí in Irish – was conceived by members of the O’Neill Country Historical Society/ Cumann Staire Dúiche Néill in 2009 in order to draw attention to some of the momentous events to have taken place during the ‘Nine Years War’ in Ireland in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. That prolonged war was fought between the confederate armies of the Gaelic Chieftains, including Ó Néill, Ó Domhnaill and Mag Uidhir and the armies of Queen Elizabeth of England and it served as a prelude to the Flight of the Earls in 1607 and the subsequent plantation of Ulster.  

This year’s diverse range of events included boat trips to Coney Island on Lough Neagh, camogie and hurling tournaments, historical guided walks and lectures and traditional music sessions. CAIRDE Teo, the Irish language social enterprise based in Armagh City, coordinated the event with financial assistance from Foras na Gaeilge and Armagh City and District Council’s Community Festivals Fund. Visitors from as far away as Madrid and Catalonia attended the festival events, illustrating the enormous potential of local festivals of this kind to attract tourists and visitors from far afield to Armagh City and the surrounding countryside.

The opening night of music and historical presentations was hosted by An Ghráinseach GFC and included a presentation on the Battle of Clontibret by Jim O’Neill, a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast and songs, recitations and stories from Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha and local artists. The evening was compered by Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile, Head of Irish Language Programming at the BBC.

Saturday afternoon witnessed a coach trip to Clontibret where participants were treated to a tour of the historic battlefields in the area before availing of refreshments and a guided tour of The Wildlife and Heritage Centre in Listinny, Co. Monaghan. Upon their return to the Grange in Co. Armagh, guests were treated to a feast of hurling and camogie before rounding off the evening with musical entertainment courtesy of Naomh Colmcille GFC.

Finally, on Sunday, festival attendees assembled at Maghery Pier before embarking on a beautiful crossing to Inis Dabháil (Coney Island) by means of an ancient mode of transport, old Irish currachs. A number of different styles of currachs were on hand thanks to the cooperation of Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association whose skill, knowledge and craftsmanship ensured that everyone arrived on the island safe and sound. Island Custodian, Peter McClelland, enthralled all those present with his tales about the recent history, folklore, fauna, human inhabitants and wildlife of the island. The visit to the island was perfectly rounded off by Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile who provided a presentation on both the pre-history of the island and its historic associations with the Gaelic Chieftains of Ulster.

An enthralling and rewarding weekend was rounded off with drinks and refreshments in Maghery GFC clubhouse before all present departed, a little exhausted but nonetheless buoyant with newfound knowledge and enthusiasm about our rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage.

Organisers CAIRDE Teo would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous assistance and participation of the following people and organisations for ensuring the success and smooth running of the 2012 Yellow Ford Festival: Armagh City and District Council; Foras na Gaeilge; CPG Naomh Colmcille, An Ghráinseach; Lough Neagh Boating Heritage Association; CPG Sheáin Mhic Diarmada, An Mhachaire; Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile; Colm Mac Gabhann; Julie Ó Néill; Chris Powell; Cumann Camógaíochta Naomh Bríd, Cumann Iománaíochta Cúchullain; CLG Uí Raighilligh; Padraig Sairseil CLG; Mary Prunty; Eddie Ó Neill; Ard Mhéara Comhairleoir Sharon Ní Eachaidh; Jim O’Neill; Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha; Paul and Ann Woods; Peter McClelland; Peadar Morgan and Jerome McCarthy Coach Hire Services.