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In 2009 a number of experienced community workers, academic researchers, trade unionists and Irish language activists formed the CAIRDE social enterprise based in Armagh City, N.E. Ireland. CAIRDE  is the Irish language translation of ‘friends’; it is also an acronym for ‘Communities in Armagh Investing in Regeneration, Diversity and Enterprise’. (Teo is Irish for ‘Ltd’). Our third sector company focuses on micro-business incubation; employment, training and learning opportunities and action research projects. CAIRDE Teo also works in partnership with a number of institutions and organisations in Armagh City and throughout the island to promote and develop the use of the Irish language both locally and nationally.

We currently employ teachers, project workers, bookkeepers, shop assistants, youth workers, etc for our all year round evening classes, concerts, summer camps, recreational activities, festivals, lectures, cross cultural events, hill walking excursions, Gaeltacht residentials, accredited educational courses, youth programmes, book launches, inter-cultural events, fitness courses, etc.

As a democratically organised, non-profit taking social enterprise, all revenue generated via our trading activities is re-invested in social and educational projects in Armagh City and in the surrounding area. CAIRDE’s business interests generate revenue for our community development programmes, provide genuine employment and training opportunities and offer a wide range of services that make a positive impact on the local populace.

CAIRDE currently run a retail craft business, a product customisation service, cultural tourism services and a minority language service agency. We also deliver accredited adult evening classes, weekend courses and residential excursions. Our current emphasis is on land  and capital acquisition for our cultural projects; research and development; the upgrading of skills in socially and economically disadvantaged communities; and the encouragement of active participation in the cultural and artistic life of Armagh city. CAIRDE has received national awards for its enterprising work in 2014 and 2015 as well as receiving recognition at national, regional and local level.

CAIRDE’s latest collaborative social enterprise – Aonach Mhacha – will build and manage a cultural centre in the historic heart of Armagh City.  The complex will sustain 15 jobs in the Irish language and cultural sector in Armagh and help generate a further 6 full-time posts. Facilities in the new ‘cultúrlann’ will include: social enterprise incubation hubs, office accommodation, classrooms, meeting rooms, a black box performance area, a media suite, a café, a dance studio, a gift shop, an art gallery and exhibition area.  Services will include minority language classes, social enterprise training, cultural tourism events, art & cultural heritage exhibitions, concerts, festivals, musical and dance performances, workshops, seminars and community development initiatives.