Irish-language groups in the city celebrate the shared story of Conradh na Gaeilge Belfast branch
The first branch of Conradh na Gaeilge in Belfast (formerly known as The Gaelic League) was founded on this day, 19 August, in 1895, and Irish language groups across the city will today (Wednesday, 19 August 2015) celebrate this shared history. It was in 32 Upper Beersbridge Road that Dr John St Clair Boyd founded the city’s first branch of the League. Boyd, who was a prominent paediatric surgeon, and a member of the Church of Ireland, also provided the premises for the inaugural meeting; he was also appointed as the first chairperson of this branch.
A bus tour – organised by TURAS, East Belfast Mission, and under the direction of both Gordon McCoy and Aidan Campbell – will visit the main sites of these events as part of the celebration at 11.00am today (19 August 2015). A display will then be organised by Conradh na Gaeilge in the Skainos Centre, 239 Newtownards Road, focusing on archival material and membership documents of Conradh na Gaeilge from Ulster during this period. Forbairt Feirste will also hold a celebration this afternoon in the west of the city to mark 120 years of the Gaelic Revival in Belfast, where the group will convene at the gates of the City Graveyard at 2.00pm, and move towards the grave of Boyd, to commemorate the events of 1895. These events, organised by Turas and Forbairt Feirste, are open to all but people are recommended to contact the groups beforehand.
Niall Comer, Tánaiste of Conradh na Gaeilge, and President of Comhaltas Uladh, says:
“It is vitally important that the shared, cross-community history of Conradh na Gaeilge is recognised. We are very happy that this historic event will be celebrated across Belfast. Events like these illustrate the developments the Irish language has made in recent times, not only in Belfast, but across the north. It is no coincidence, looking at this history, that there is pioneering work ongoing today in East Belfast, and Turas, and Linda Ervine, deserve great commendation for recognising and celebrating this shared heritage as it should be. Conradh na Gaeilge wish all events this week great success.”
Ciarán Mac Giolla, Advocacy Manager for Conradh na Gaeilge in the north, says:
“If we look at this history of the Irish language across Ireland, some great names from all communities come to mind. In the context of Dr John St Clair Boyd, he was a pioneer here in Belfast, as was Robert McAdam before him, and many others to the present day. Through events like these, the use and the image of the Irish language is both normalised and celebrated. It is imperative that we put this fascinating history back in the public domain, and through this process the Irish language can be put forward as a language for all.”
Pádraig Ó Tiarnaigh
Communications, Language Protection and Representation Executive, Conradh na Gaeilge
Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin
Advocacy Manager in the north, Conradh na Gaeilge
INFORMATION FROM THE GROUPS INVOLVED:
Conchúr Ó Muadaigh
Project Officer, Forbairt Feirste
Project Coordinator, Turas