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Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest

February 28, 2014

Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest celebrates the language that St Patrick had to learn to make himself understood to the Gaels and gives the green light to events organized in the Mid-Ulster area for Ireland’s national day.

There will be opportunities throughout Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest for anyone with no knowledge of the language to become familiar with basic phrases and structures.

Anyone who is free at lunch-time on Wednesdays can call into Ranfurly House in Dungannon, where a series of talks introducing the Irish language will be held over the fortnight. Irish language officer, Séamus mac Giolla Phádraig will give the introductory talks about the language to try to explain why we speak the way we do.

The children haven’t been forgotten. Seal Spraoi children’s clubs in Cookstown, Dungannon and Coalisland provide Irish language after-schools activities and there will be an emphasis on song, music and dance over the fortnight during and after school hours. A special storytime Seal Spraoi will be held in Cookstown’s Burnavon Centre on Friday 7 March from 4.30pm until 6.00pm with Gearóidín Bhreathnach. The Burnavon will also host a family céilí in on Sunday, 9 March between 2pm and 4pm, with music by Raymond Loney.

Gearóidín Bhreathnach, twice winner of Corn Uí Riada, the ultimate prize in Irish sean-nós singing, will be in the Square Box Theatre on Friday night, 7 March. Gearóidín has a clear, easy singing style. She explains the events behind the songs she sings and puts them in context by telling something of the lives of those who composed them.

Regular Irish language events, such as the Ciorcal Comhrá conversation club, on the first Saturday of the month and Léigh Leat reading club are held in conjunction with Dungannon Library. These and their counterparts in Cookstown will be making special efforts to welcome people who would like to try out Irish words and phrases they know. Details are available at www.guthonline.org.

A fund-raising relay run the length of Ireland, called Rith 2014, will arrive in Dungannon from Cookstown on Thursday afternoon, 13 March before making its way to Coalisland. Runners will have completed the relay from Strabane to Cookstown the night before. Rith 2014 provides clubs with the means to raise funds for their own small Irish language projects. Groups can ‘buy’ a kilometre and find details of the route at www.rith.ie.

Throughout the month of March, Dungannon Library will host an exhibition which has Irish writing systems as its theme. Examples of Ogham, the manuscript tradition, the invention of the printing press and modern computer fonts will be presented and discussed.

Dr Malachy Ó Néill will give a talk on the Ó Néill kingship on Thursday night, 13 March at 8.30pm in the Square Box Theatre. Dr Ó Néill examines Irish language sources for the O’Neill family story, reflecting the events which preceded the coming of Patrick to Ireland right up to and beyond the Plantation of Ulster, a period of some twelve hundred years. Máirín Hurndall will bring the official Seachtain na Gaeilge-Gaelfest celebrations to a conclusion with a talk the following evening at 8.00pm in the Burnavon Theatre, Cookstown, about the Gaelic Heritage of Protestants.