The countdown is on to a major Irish language festival in Cookstown and Dungannon.
With only a few weeks left until this year’s St. Patrick’s Day holidays the preparations are well underway for this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest Irish Language festival which takes place in the Cookstown and Dungannon Council areas throughout March.
The festival celebrates the Irish language and encourages people to come along to a wide variety of events, talks and workshops available, whatever their level of spoken or written Irish.
In Cookstown, a special Seal Spraoi (literally translated as ‘a spell of fun’) event on Friday, March 7 from 4.30pm – 6pm at the Burnavon will give local primary school children, whether they know any Irish or not, an opportunity to join in the celebrations.
Gearóidín Bhreathnach, a prizewinning singer and storyteller, will lead the workshop which is packed full of singing, stories and activities. Admission is from £2 per child and can be booked through the Burnavon Box Office on 028 8676 9949.
Raymond Loney will continue the weekend celebrations as he provides the music for the Family Céilí on Sunday, March 9 from 2pm – 4pm. Here, children will be able to draw on the skills they learned during the week at the céilí dancing workshops also happening in the Burnavon.
Admission is £2 per person and can either be booked in advance through the Burnavon Box Office or paid on the door on arrival.
As well as plenty of arts and cultural activities this year Gaelfest will incorporate Rith 2014, a fund-raising relay run the length of Ireland. It will be passing through Cookstown on the evening of Wednesday, March 12.
Rith 2014 provides the means to raise funds for their own Irish language projects as well as establishing a central fund for sporting clubs who take part in Rith 2014. More information can be found at www.rith.ie.
Regular Irish language events, such as Ciorcal Comhrá conversation club and Léigh Leat reading club, both of which are hosted by Cookstown Library, will be making a special effort to welcome people who would like to try out words and phrases they know during Gaelfest. Details of local Irish language activities are available at www.guthonline.org.
A highlight of the festival comes on Friday 14th March at 8pm as Máirín Hurndall, a radio journalist working with Radio Feirste in Belfast, will be in the Burnavon to talk about her experience with the language and the Protestant Gaelic tradition. Admission to this talk is free.
During Seachtain na Gaeilge, a new series of after-schools classes for pupils taking their GCSEs will be launched.
Costing £30 for 10, they will be held in the the Burnavon before Easter. They begin at 4.30pm on Wednesdays. To register for the after-schools classes or for details on any of the events covered by Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest, contact Séamus Mac Giolla Phádraig, Oifigeach Fhorbairt na Gaeilge (Irish Language Development Officer) with Cookstown District Council at the Burnavon on 028 8676 9949 option 4.