Bhí ceiliúradh den céad scoth againn sa Trá Ghearr an deireadh seachtaine seo caite. I measc na himeachtaí bhí leacht cuimhneacháin Liam Ó Dochartaigh, Céilí Mór, lá spraoi do pháistí agus dianchúrsaí Gaeilge.
Rinne muid ceiliúradh ar stair Gaelach an cheantar agus d’amharc muid go dóchasach go dtí an todhchaí.
Is deas mar sin de gurbh é ainm an grúpa nua sa Trá Ghearr na ‘Dóchas na Trá’.
Tá mé dul an cuid eile den bhlag seo a scríobh i mBéarla, mar ba mhaith liom go mbeadh seal ag daoine nach bhfuil Gaeilge acu a bheith ábalta léamh faoi na himeachtaí agus an tábhacht atá leo inár bpobail.
The weekend saw a number of events in the Short Strand celebrating the Irish language and culture. The small community festival was organised by the newly formed group, ‘Dóchas na Trá’.
Dóchas is made up of local Gaeilgeoirí, primarily those who have passed through the Irish medium education system.
Our weekend of events kicked off with a memorial lecture named after local Irish language activist Liam Ó Dochartaigh. Liam was well known in this community and beyond for his enthusiasm and more importantly, his activism to promote and advance the Irish language. Liam raised his family entirely through Irish at their home in the Short Strand. In the 1950’s he contributed significantly to the re-emerging movement seeking not to ‘revive’ the language but to ‘rejuvenate’ it!
The key speaker on the night was well known teacher and Gaeilgeoir Brendy Ó Fiaich, he spoke of the Irish language community in 1950’s Belfast and put into perspective the conditions in which Liam would have been undertaking his activism. The next speaker was Huggy McComb, a former student of Liam, who developed his Irish in the Cages of Long Kesh. Huggy, along with Liam and people like Billy Matthews and Dáithí Power, were to the fore in the formation of ‘An Tine Bheo’ in the late 1970s in the Short Strand. The aims and objectives of this group were to develop the thoughts of people like Liam, as laid out in the 1950’s. It was to promote and develop the use of Irish, to encourage and facilitate it at a community level, to create the conditions where people didn’t just learn it but also had the chance to go out and use it in practical, every day instances.
The next speaker was Eleanor Keenan, one of the small band of fearless parents who formed a bilingual mother and toddler group in the old Mac Airt community centre, which then developed into the first Irish nursery outside of the Bóthar Seoighe Gaeltacht, Naíscoil Mhic Airt. Eleanor spoke of the struggle not just to form the nursery in the midst of the war, but to then be able to send the children on to Bunscoil Phobail Feirste, at that stage the only Irish speaking primary school in the city. As one of the pupils who made that journey everyday in late 80’s Belfast, it was not an easy task, but that story almost deserves a blog of it’s own!!
But nowadays how things have changed!!
Aptly the next speaker was Pilib Ó Ruanaí from An Droichead, the All-Ireland award winning development. Pilib spoke authoritively on his own experience of the Irish language within the Short Strand and how people like Liam, groups like An Tine Bheo and the parents of the nursery children were the catalyst that created An Droichead, a first class Irish Medium School on the Ormeau Road, facilitating children from south and east Belfast and beyond. It is also one of the city’s premier live music venues, it provides music classes, set dancing classes and bog oak carving classes as well as much, much more!
From the days when the British Army would often raid our nursery, arrest those volunteering their time and assistance, to a site that is the envy of Gaeilgeoirí across the country; we have travelled a very long way. It is because of the people in the Short Strand, so committed to an idea, who fought disadvantage, who fought intimidation and who fought ignorance and intransigence, that we now have something to be so proud of.
From little acorns………
Saturday saw an intensive Irish language course for people in the area, a number of people also took tests for their gold Fáinní.
That evening saw the return of Máire and Donnacha Ó Bruadair for a céilí mór in St Matthews Social Club. Máire and Donnacha both taught in the Naíscoil for a considerable period, their contribution was vital to the development of our naíscoil!
They relished the chance to meet up with many of the kids they hadn’t seen in many, many years.
Bhí sé deas iad a fheiceáil!!
Sunday took a different turn, a fun day for children in the Parochial Hall.
The Armagh Rhymers, magicians, face painting, balloons, bouncy castle’s, sweets lemonade and crisps!!!
It’s a great combination for the kids, for those of us helping out, not necessarily!! lol
However, we did have a great day and the kids even more so.
Tá muid ag iarraidh a thógáil ar an tionscadal seo ar an bhliain seo chugainn le cuidiú ó grúpaí áirithe a bhfuil muid fíor bhuíoch daoibh a an chuidiú i mbliana.
We hope to build on this event for next year and the year after that.
Dóchas, like the Mac Airt and An Tine Bheo before it are firmly embedded in our community, we have great plans, not just for the Irish speakers, for the Strand as a whole.
Mar a dúirt Eleanor oíche Aoine, ‘Labhair í agus mairfidh sí!’
P.S. I hope to have some pictures up as soon as I get them!