A new walking group for Irish speakers, learners and those interested in the language will get underway in Armagh this Thursday 7 June at 7pm. The aim of the group is to encourage Irish speakers to meet up and speak to others, while taking part in an enjoyable physical activity. The group also aims to help learners practice their spoken Irish and improve their confidence in using the language outside of the classroom. The walking group is being organised by Cairde Teo and will focus on the Gaelic and Celtic heritage of Armagh and surrounding areas, and a programme of walks over June, July and August has been designed to visit some of the historic and cultural sites associated with the area. Members of the group will be able to share information on different aspects of the Gaelic cultural wealth within the city and surrounding countryside.
The first walk in the series, which will take place over the summer months, will commence at the foot of Navan Fort at 7pm on Thursday 7 June. The walk will be led by Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, author of Laoch na Laochra and Cú Chulainn, Ulster’s Greatest Hero, and will look at the strategic and cultural importance of Navan Fort as the centre of Gaelic Ulster. As well as a tour of Navan Fort and Loughnashade, participants will also walk to the nearby King’s Stables and Haughey’s Fort to hear about the numerous sites of historic, cultural and archaeological importance in the townlands of Navan, Tray and Tamlaght.
The walks will take place every second Thursday and following Thursday’s walk at Navan Fort, the group will move to the village of Darkley for their next heritage tour on Thursday 21 June. The Darkley walk will be led by local historian and Irish speaker Liam Ó Manacháin and will focus on the history of the village itself and a visit to Tullynawood Lake, where it is said in Irish mythology that the children of Lir returned after 900 years expulsion. Guided walks are also planned at Seagahan dam, Milford and Ballyards, Benburb and the Yellow Ford way. For more information on the weekly walks and for up-to-date information on the walks’ starting points, check out the Cairde Teo page on Facebook or follow them at @Cairdeteo on Twitter.
As well as the heritage walks in Armagh and surrounding district, Cairde Teo’s bilingual walking group will hold their next outing on Saturday 10 June at Slievenacloy on the edge of the Belfast Hills. The walk, near Stonyford, will take in Priest’s Hill, the nature reserve and the Slievenacloy earthen ring, starting at 12 noon on the Flowbog Road. Already this year, the group have climbed Hen, Cock and Pigeon Rock in the Mournes and visited Cavehill in Belfast, the Yellow Water in Rostrevor and Slieve Foye in Carlingford.