Representatives from CAIRDE Teo, the Irish language cooperative based in Armagh City, have just returned from a visit to Oban, Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Isle of Mull. The organisation recently received funding from Iomairt Cholmcille to deliver a cultural exchange project between Irish speakers in Armagh and Scots Gàidhlig speakers in Scotland
The visit was a follow up on previous exchanges between CAIRDE Teo and a range of cultural groups in Stornoway, Inverness, Glasgow and Skye to make contacts in preparation for the opening of the Aonach Mhacha cultúrlann in Armagh city in 2019.
The cross-community delegation from Armagh included two students from Coláiste Cháitríona who are currently producing a radio programme for Raidió Fáilte on the cultural similarities and links between Gaelic speakers in Ulster and Gàidhlig (Scots Gaelic) speakers in Scotland. CAIRDE Teo youth representative Veronique McEnery explained that the visit was part of an initiative by the group to enhance cultural interaction and understanding:
“CAIRDE Teo are attempting to reframe the debate about the Irish language in the public domain and to use it as a means of deepening understanding and cooperation between and among the people of Ulster and Scotland.
“To that end we met with several agencies based in the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow including An Lòchran, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Comhairle nan Leabhraichean and Comunn na Gàidhlig. We were delighted to extend invitations to these Gaelic speaking groups to come and give performances, lectures and exhibitions in the forthcoming cultural centre in Armagh.
“In addition, we had a very valuable meeting to discuss our work to promote the Irish language in Armagh with Ms Lisa Marie Joyce, Vice-Consul of Ireland in Scotland who hosted our group at the Irish Government Consulate in Edinburgh.
“We used the opportunity of the visit to explain to the Vice Consul that our latest project was focussed on enhancing community relations, cultural awareness and mutual understanding in Armagh City. She explained that our objectives and cross-community initiatives had similarities with much of the work being done by her office in Scotland”.
Another delegate on the trip, Bríd Ní hAodha, was impressed with the scale of the cultural revival in Oban:
“Our first excursion to the Centre for Contemporary Arts on Glasgow’s Sauciehall Street was a really unique experience. The curator, Francis McKee, is a native of Newtownhamilton and is a font of knowledge and cultural information. It was also great to meet with Karin Oakley, Fèisean nan Gàidheal Development Officer for the Hebrides. She brought us to visit the Fèis Latharna in Oban which was a real thrill. Fèis Latharna provides traditional music and Gaelic arts tuition to 8-18 year olds. There were over 200 children learning pipes, harps, accordians, whistles, shinty, Gàidhlig singing at the Féis when we arrived. It was a joy to see so many happy children learning Gaelic cultural traditions during their Easter holidays.
“Following this, we sailed over to the Isle of Mull, where we were entertained by Seònaid MacDonald, Chair of Choiste Mòd Ionadach na Dreòlluinn. We recorded some interviews and rehearsals with the beautiful Isle of Mull Gaelic Choir and visited the idyllic little coastal village of Tobermory (location of hit children’s television show Balamory) before returning to the mainland.
“The group also had a number of Gàidhlig lessons while in Scotland and noted the many similarities between the two indigenous languages of Ireland and Scotland (which of course come from the same root language)”.
The CAIRDE Teo delegation would like to thank Colmcille for the financial assistance that ensured a successful trip and to extend their gratitude to the Irish Consulate and to the many Gaelic cultural organisations and Gàidhlig language activists who showed them such wonderful hospitality during their stay in Scotland”.