A large number of course participants, from Ireland and all over the world, attended the Irish Language Symposium in Gleann Cholm Cille on Monday night including forher President Mary McAleese.
The symposium was held as part of Donegal County Council’s sponsored series of 2016 events. The focus of the discussions was on the unifying role the Irish language plays in bringing people of all creeds and backgrounds together. The reality is that the language belongs to all.
Oideas Gael, under the stewardship of Professor Seosamh Watson, himself a North Belfast Presbyterian, who ended up as Professor of Modern Irish in UCD, was a perfect example of that force. Linda Ervine, wife of Brian, former leader of PUP and sister in-law of David Ervine gave a captivating account of her work with Unionists in East Belfast and their embracing of the Irish language.
Former President Mary McAleese spoke of her language journey from the time her parents sent their family to Belfast schools that taught Irish to the memorably occasion when Queen Elizabeth spoke in Irish in Dublin Castle.
Ray Mac Mánais, himself a Belfast native and former Gaelscoil Principal and President McAleese’s biographer introduced the guests and spoke of the great optimism towards the language at present; an example being that day’s media reporting that over 50,000 pupils were now attending Irish language schools in the Republic.
Minister for the Gaeltacht, Seán Kyne TD, outlined the State policy on the Irish language and the support measures being activated to ensure its survival. He cited the positive effects of the Fulbright program that enable students from the US coming to learn Irish in Institutions such as Oideas Gael.
Pictured: Former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese meets her old friend, Dr Seosamh Watson at the Oideas Gael Summer School on Monday evening (John/jmac.ie)
Pictured at the Scoil Samhradh Oideas Gael on Modnay night were, Eunan O Cuinneagain, (Udaras Na Gaeltachta) Former President Mary McAleese, Linda Ervine (Irish Language Development Officer for East Belfast) Aire Stait Na Gaeltachta, Sean Kyne, Liam O'Cuinneagan and Professor Seosamh Watson (Oideas Gael) and Seamus Ó Mordha (Dept of Arts Culture and Gaeltacht-Donegal) (Photo-John McConnell/jmac.ie)