Learning Irish in East Belfast: “I find it gives me a great intellectual stimulus…”

Usually, if I link to a piece in Irish I generally write the introduction in Irish, but in this case the heart of the content is a great video piece shot at one of the most socially active churches in the city. At the East Belfast Mission there’s some great new Irish speakers coming to life… It’s just a sheer joyH/T Tomaí…

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  • comhfhreagrai eachtrannach

    Is maith liom a leithéid a fheiceáil. B’fhéidir go bhfuil rudaí ag athrú anseo dáiríre…

  • Drumlins Rock

    Nice wee video Mick, good to see Irish used without the usual political baggage, I think there much more room for common ground on the issue than most think and initiatives like this are a million times better at promoting the language than translating government documents.

  • JR

    Great to see, fair play to those people for seeing through the nonsense which has been peddled about the Irish language for centuries. I know for a fact that this group is far from unique. Protestants and Unionists across northern Ireland are (in small numbers) taking lessons in Irish.

    I don’t understand your comment. That class is exactly the same as every other beginner class across Ireland. Are you saying that when Protestants learn Irish it is not political but when Catholics speak it, it is? Your comment is a bit of a paradox in that you say it is gret to see Irish used without political bagggage then you fire in a politial comment about Translation of Government doccuments.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Are you saying that when Protestants learn Irish it is not political but when Catholics speak it, it is?”

    I am not saying that, and it takes quite a warped mind to read that from my comment. We all know Irish has been used as a political football, and demands for government documents is just one example of that, where the practical benefits to genuine Irish speakers would be minimal compared to the cost involved, and in the process alienating many people.

  • JR

    This is a positave thread and I don’t want to drag it into a tit for tat on the history of the Irish language but I want to make a small point.

    Acht na Gaeilge and what it contains (including the translation of government doccuments) is not about promoting the Irish language but about serving the needs of the existing Irish speaking communtiy and also bring their language rights in line with those of Welsh and Scots Gaellic speakers. The language needs of prople attending a class or two for academic interst and social interaction are different to those live their lives through the language.

    People ask why there is a need for an Irish Language education sector, or a need for the government to Interact with its citizens in Irish. My response would be that the Government is there to serve it’s people and I believe that my children or the children of my friends who’s first language is Irish have the right to deal with the state in a language native to the Island. I also believe that anyone alienated by this needs to examine why they feel this way.

    If the Irish language is to be a living language as opposed to an acedimic curiosity there is no other way.

  • RG Cuan

    Excellent video, and a wonderful example of how the Irish language can be used to actually break down barriers and build bridges here in Ireland.

    I hope certain politicians are paying attention…

  • GavBelfast

    I have to say that, from my own experience, when one knows someone – through friendship or some other positive interaction – who uses Irish, that in itself helps to dispel negativity towards it (like many other things, I suppose).

    Personally, as someone who feels that the Union is good at embracing all manner of religions, beliefs, ethnicities, opinions, etc,etc, I see it as I see the likes of Welsh and Scots-Gaelic – ancient languages of the British Isles, or these islands if you prefer.

    See the Irish language in that context, and there is not threat. If you embrace it, or at least don’t yourself see something as a threat or alien, anyone who would try to use it as a threat or to alienate will be much less likely to do so.

  • Alan N/Ards

    Well done to the unionist’s of east Belfast who are embracing the language. It belongs to everyone. While some people have politicized it ( on both sides ) the ordinary people are being given the chance to embrace it. Maybe it’s time for the Orange Order to rediscover the language that some of their fore fathers spoke. That would speak volumes!

  • anne warren

    Fully agree Alan N/Ards.

    Well done East Belfast people

    It doesn’t matter how much Irish you learn or how much you don’t.

    You now know Irish is just another European language which is found mainly in the British Isles.

    You have taken a major step forward in combatting lack of knowledge and ideas that are received without comment.

    Keep on asking questions about everything!!!
    Way to go!

  • son of sam

    A simple stimulating video.Sadly the perception (not discouraged by the party) is that Sinn Fein are in the forefront of promoting the language.This may well have the effect of putting many Protestants off taking the first steps in learning Irish.Of course the irony in the last Presidential election was that the D F M was found wanting in his mastery of the”first official language”.The lesson to be learned is that that S F does not have a monopoly in its “ownership” of the language any more than its attempts to claim total credit for the “Peace Process” The Liofa initiative seems to be a step forward in widening the base of potential Irish speakers.

  • SDLP supporter

    Ni bhaineann an Ghaeilge le grúpa politiciúil, nó creideamh, nó aicme ar bith. Is le muintir na Éireann a bhaineann sí agus tá dochar deánta don teanga nuair a thagann an teanga faoi eitilt ghrúpa amháin.

    Easampla, San colún “On this day” sna ‘Scéala éireann’ inné, bhí tuairisc ar scéal 71 bliain roimhe sin ar 18 Iúil 1941, agus rún glactha ar Chonrad na Gaeilge ag maoimh ar Thaoiseach an lae (De Valera) gan duine ar bíth a ainmniú ar Seanad Eireann gan Gaeilge bheith aige/aici. Sin an meon aigne caol-intinneach a dhearna slad ar an teanga.


    The Irish language does not belong to any one political grouping nor faith system nor social group. It belongs to the people of Ireland and it is only damaged when it is captured by any sectional interest.

    For example in the column ‘On this Day’ in yesterday’s Irish News there was a reprint of a story published in the paper on 18 July 1941 reporting that the Gaelic League had passed a motion demanding that the Taoiseach of the day (De Valera) only appoint people to the Senate (he had 11 choices) who had a command of Irish. That sort of narrow-minded mentality did nothing but damage to the Irish language.

    [To be fair to De Valera, of whom I am normally no fan, I believe he would have ignored such an absurdity].

  • Fergie Pie

    Slightly off-topic…

    What kind of ‘religious ethos’ is promoted by Irish language schools in Northern Ireland? Is it basically catholic education using the Irish language?

    Would a protestant couple be able to send their child to an Irish language school and have them receive the same standard of religious study as catholic students?

  • RG Cuan

    Fergie Pie

    The vast majority of Gaelscoileanna throughout the island are non-religious. If some parents wish that their children follow a certain religion’s or denomination’s ceremonies etc, they are assisted, but this does not normally happen during class time.

  • Progressive Unionist

    Great video and good for East Belfast!

    There’s no contradiction whatsoever between being a proud unionist and also having an interest in the Irish language, or the GAA for that matter.

    The Irish language, and Ulster-Scots, and GAA sports are all absolutely cultural treasures of this island and they belong to all of us, unionists and nationalists alike.

    We should be doing everything we can to support Irish and Ulster-Scots and Scots-Gaelic and Welsh and all other minority languages – all important strands in the cultural tapestry that is the modern United Kingdom.

  • Mister_Joe

    Just a few phrases to be able to exchange pleasantries with regular Irish speakers isn’t that difficult. No more so that being able to order dos cervezas in Spanish speaking countries and say gratias when you get them.. That’s Latin American Spanish before anyone corrects me.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Fergie – I pulled my children out of a Gaelscoil due to it not being Catholic

  • Fergie Pie

    Thanks for the replies.