The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Ryan Murphy, has selected Irish language organisation Conradh na Gaeilge as the fourth and final charity for his year in office.
Councillor Murphy has previously announced his support for three other local groups - the volunteer-based Community Rescue Service, mental health support organisation TAMHI and Kids Together, who provide services and support for children and young people with complex needs.
Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in 1893 to promote the use of the Irish language and now has over 200 branches worldwide. The first branch in Belfast was founded on 19 August 1895 by Dr John St Clair Boyd at 32 Upper Beersbridge Road.
Conchúr Ó Muadaigh, Advocacy Manager with Conradh na Gaeilge in Belfast, said:
“In recent years, Belfast has become known across Ireland and, indeed across Europe, as a model of best practice for indigenous minority language revival and revitalisation in an urban context. Building on the pioneering work of the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht, Belfast is now home to many Irish language pre-schools and primary schools, and the largest Irish language secondary school on the island, Coláiste Feirste.
“Hundreds upon hundreds of communities across the city are opting to reclaim their original Irish language place names on street signage, whilst thousands upon thousands of adults attend weekly Irish language classes in pioneering community groups, north, east, south and west of the city. This is a restorative linguistic and community movement unrivalled anywhere in Ireland.
“Conradh na Gaeilge is immensely proud to play a role in the current revival efforts. We now work towards the timely implementation of the newly enacted Irish language legislation, which will have an incredibly positive impact for Irish speakers and beyond across Belfast.
“Belfast City Council have taken some huge strides towards language rights and equality in recent years and we look forward to welcoming a new Irish language policy and new, exciting events for Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia in the coming months.
“We wish to thank Belfast City Council and the Lord Mayor for endorsing that vision and our work, for valuing us alongside many other vital community organisations, many of whom help make Belfast the diverse and welcoming place it is today.”
Councillor Murphy said:
“2023 marks the 130th anniversary of Conradh na Gaeilge and I’m delighted to announce them as one of the charities for my term.
“During this time, the organisation has been a driving force in promoting and protecting the rich history of the Irish language right across our city, a role which it continues to play today.
“As a council, we have committed to ensuring that everyone feels welcome in our city as it expands and grows in diversity. I hope that, by working closely with the committed team and volunteers at Conradh na Gaeilge, I can play my part in telling the story of the Irish language and encourage others to explore for themselves its wider connection to our city’s heritage and development.”
The Lord Mayor met with representatives from the charity at City Hall earlier today and heard more the services they currently offer in Belfast, including providing classes and workshops, working with schools, and organising Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia, the international Irish language festival.