New ground was broken again last week when Irish language community group Glór na Móna began teaching Irish to Government officials.
One of Glór na Móna’s teachers, Máitiú Mac Giolla Fhiondáin, now teaches weekly beginners and intermediate Irish classes with staff at the Department for Regional Development during their lunch hours every Wednesday.
The Department for Regional Development are one of 11 government departments in the six counties that has strategic regional development, development policy, transport strategy as well as providing policy support to airports and ports.
Glór na Móna, which was formed in 2004, is the primary Irish language and cultural organisation promoting the Irish language and cultural revival in the Upper Springfield area of west Belfast.
To date, over 150 students are registered with the group’s classes which includes Irish classes, guitar classes, A’level history and GCSE Maths through Irish. Over 20 students are currently registered with both Regional Development classes. Class teacher Máitiú Mac Giolla Fhiondáin stated that the classes show just how important the language has become in people’s lives.
He said: ‘It is groundbreaking that a community organisation is providing Irish classes for a Government department and promoting the language throughout the City. Because of this, the Department for Regional development will have a significant advantage in dealing with the Irish language community especially if an Irish language Act is enacted in the future.’
At present, the Irish language is visible on the department’s site- www.drdni.gov.uk/index/gaeilge.htm.
Matt, who is originally from Ardoyne learned his Irish in Cumann Chluain Ard. In addition to these classes, Matt also teaches Irish to Royal Mail staff in Mallusk, Co Antrim as well taking classes on Monday and Tuesday evening in Gaelscoil na Móna.
Glór na Móna Chairperson, Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh, said that the classes provide a platform for the revival of language and culture.
He said: ‘We have more students registered with us than ever before which proves the increasing popularity of the language. People have a thirst to claim back what taken from them through colonisation and assert their national identity with pride.
“We believe that this revival can only be successful if we can appeal to an increasing number of people and encourage them to participate and take ownership of their cultural heritage. As well as providing classes, we also provide community services, like our Youth club and cultural events and our annual community festival, Féile Gaeilge le Bród.”
*Please contact us if you are interested in working with us or providing your own classes. Email us on email@example.com or phone Fionnuala NicThom on (028) 90 585755.