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18 Jan 2019

The thriving Irish language community in Armagh received a major vote of confidence this week with the much anticipated announcement of the annual Glór na nGael awards for promotion of the Irish language across the island.

Armagh City picked up an unprecedented total of four awards, beating off stiff competition from towns and cities across the rest of Ireland. In addition to the multiple awards, CAIRDE Teo has also been shortlisted for the overall national prize for promotion of the Irish language, which is due to be announced at a glitzy presentation dinner to be held in early February at Glasson House Hotel in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The first award claimed by the innovative Armagh group is sponsored by Ógras, a national organisation overseeing Irish language youth work. The award recognises CAIRDE Teo’s role in coordinating two Irish medium youth clubs; regular youth trips and exchanges; the highly popular Campa Mhacha Irish language summer camp; and a number of courses aimed at encouraging young people to learn new enterprise and media skills.

The youth clubs, for children in Key Stages 2 and 3, provide a range of structured, recreational activities and programmes focusing on the local environment, community and Gaelic cultural heritage of Armagh and the surrounding area. The award was welcomed by youth leader Aodhán Mac Tréinfhir, “This is due recognition for the volume of work ongoing in Armagh to promote Irish as a vibrant and living language for the hundreds of children and young people who attend and who have attended Irish medium schools in the area. Our youth programme aims to encourage the children to develop skills and interests through their first language and to instil a sense of pride in their local area, heritage and community.”

Following the announcement of the Ógras award, Armagh has also been honoured with An Timire prize for promoting Irish within the fields of religious, spiritual and charitable work. An Timire is an Irish language magazine produced by the Jesuit society and the award covers services and events relating to all religions and charitable causes such as Armagh’s weekly Irish language mass and annual St Patrick’s Day services in both cathedrals and the promotion of the language as a means of multi-cultural reconciliation and cohesion.

CAIRDE Teo were also awarded the Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta prize for the development of Irish medium education in Armagh. This prize recognises the tremendous work done by local community volunteers to establish ‘Naíscoil na Caille’ – Armagh City’s 3rd Irish medium nursery and the on-going work to establish the city’s first independent Irish medium primary school in the city; Gaelscoil Ard Mhacha will open its doors to the public in September 2020.

Finally, Armagh has also been awarded first prize for promotion of Irish in an area with a population of between 4,000 and 20,000 people. The final award recognises the combined efforts of the Irish language community to develop the language through education, cultural events, festivals, social occasions, youth provision, family support, training, enterprise and employment opportunities.

The multiple awards come as a very timely boost to the Irish language community in Armagh, given the imminent opening of the new Irish language and cultural hub in the Shambles area of Armagh City in August 2019. Commenting on the recent accolades, CAIRDE Teo’s Irish Language Development Officer, Seán Ó Maoilsté, said;

“The Glór na nGael awards are a very welcome acknowledgement of the work being undertaken by the Irish language community in Armagh. Undoubtedly, these awards will encourage Irish speakers to further their efforts in promoting and developing the language in the area.

With the new Aonach Mhach Cultúrlann scheduled to open later this year, Armagh’s Irish speakers will be busier than ever. On behalf of the Irish language community locally, I would like to thank Glór na nGael, Ógras, An Timire and Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta for this huge vote of confidence in our work.”