Representatives from Armagh’s Irish language community development organisation, CAIRDE Teo, were recently invited to meet the President Mícheál D Ó hUiginn at his home in Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin’s Pheonix Park. The Armagh representatives joined hundreds of Irish speakers from across Ireland at a special party, which was organised by President Higgins to celebrate the modern revival of the Irish language. The guests received a tour of Áras an Uachtaráin to include the State Corridor, the State Dining Room, the State Reception Room, the Council of State Room and the State Drawing Room. Many of the visitors also spent time in the beautiful gardens, as the Tulla Pipe Band performed before the official ceremonies got underway.
The President spoke passionately during his keynote address about the importance of the Irish language in modern society and made a direct appeal to the government, civil service and public sector to do more to support the growing Irish language community. He highlighted the unprecedented demand for Irish medium education and stressed the need for the government to ensure that as many children as possible are able to gain the many advantages offered by a bilingual education. He assured those present that he would focus his attention, in this year of the one hundrenth anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, on the challenges faced by the Irish language community.
As well as the President’s speech, the party also featured a number of acclaimed Irish language music acts, including the popular groups Seo Linn and Kíla, as well as Cór Chúil Aodha, the reknowned men’s choir from the Cork Gaeltacht, which is directed by Peadar Ó Riada. The event was compered by TG4 newsreader Éimear Ní Chonaola. Following conclusion of the garden party, the President spent plenty of time in the fantastic gardens greeting the visitors and posing for photographs.
Speaking about the visit, CAIRDE Teo Irish language officer Seán Ó Maoilsté said, “It was a great honour to have been invited to meet President Mícheál D. Ó hUiginn at Áras an Uachtaráin. The event demonstrated the president’s passion for the Irish language and his personal commitment to those that speak the language. The President gave freely of his time and enjoyed the opportunity to meet with Irish speakers from all across Ireland and indeed from further afield. When introduced to the president, he recalled a revent visit to Armagh Council at the Palace Demesne, where he met a number of Armagh Gaels associated with the Aonach Mhacha project to build a cultúrlann in the city, and was pleased to learn of the progress. We look forward to being in a position to welcome the president to the opening of the building in the near future.”