Armagh senior football captain Ciarán McKeever launched the annual Irish language festival Seachtain na Gaeilge or Irish language week on Monday in the Athletic Grounds. Ciaran spoke of his interest in the Irish language and of his hopes to big up a few words during this year which has been designated Irish language Year to celebrate the revival of the fortunes of our national language. Ciarán launched the Armagh programme of events alongside Seán Ó Maoilsté, Irish language Development Officer with local group Cairde Teo. Pupils from St Malachy’s Primary School and St Patrick’s Grammar School joined Ciarán for the launch and enjoyed a bilingual tour of the stadium afterwards.
Armagh Gaels got the Seachtain na Gaeilge festival off to an Athletic start with a weekend hillwalking tour of Carlingford. A group of Irish speakers climbed Slieve Foy on Saturday and learned about the history of the town of Carlingford on Sunday when they did a historical walking tour of the area. Back in Armagh Gael-Linn hosted Coirm, the Irish language talent show for children in Irish medium schools on Tuesday and there was a special music session as part of the weekly Ciorcal Comhrá Ard Mhacha group.
On Friday evening, the Lord Mayor Sharon Haughey-Grimley will host a reception to mark Seachtain na Gaeilge in the Palace Stables with representatives from the local Irish language and culture organisations as well as local schools and GAA clubs. A short film made by children and young people from the Irish medium schools, in association with the Creative Workers Cooperative, will be launched on the evening to show the history and development of the Irish language in Armagh. As well as that, representatives from Gael-Linn and Iontaobhas Ultach will be in attendance to present a cheque to the committee of Aonach Mhacha, the new company which has been set up to open a new Irish language culture and arts centre in the town.
One of the highlights of this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge programme is a talk by Linda Ervine from the East Belfast Mission, entitled Protestants and the Irish language. Linda comes from the Newtownards Road and started learning Irish a couple of years ago and is now employed to promote the Irish language in East Belfast. Linda organises language classes and awareness courses and has brought an Irish language drama to the Newtownards Road. Linda will be giving a talk in St Catherine’s College, Armagh at 8pm on Wednesday 13 March following the Irish classes which are held in the Irish Medium Unit.
On Tuesday 12 March, children from English medium schools will have an opportunity to learn a bit of Irish when Drumarg Community Association run their Irish language club. The Gaels of Armagh and Louth will be coming together to practice their Irish on Saturday 16 March, when the two counties face each other in the National Football League at 7pm. There will be plenty more activities in Armagh with the various schools offering their own programmes of events, with Irish classes, céilís, quizzes, art projects, talks and concerts being held in schools across the city and county.
On St Patrick’s Day itself, St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral will hold a special Irish language service to celebrate Holy Communion at 10am. The Irish language mass will take place on Saturday 9 March and Saturday 16 March at 5.30pm in St Patrick’s Grammar School and a bilingual mass will be celebrated in St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral on St Patrick’s Day at 11am. For more information on any of the activities that are included as part of the Armagh programme for Seachtain na Gaeilge, contact Seán Ó Maoilsté on 028 3751 5229 or email@example.com