An Irish language event hosted by the DUP Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has been commended by local Irish language groups.
The evening featured a presentation from the organisation behind Irish Language Week (Seachtain na Gaeilge) Conradh na Gaeilge, a talk from Ballymena group Glór Dhal Riada, a presentation by Linda Ervine and musical performances from traditional Irish artists.
Commenting on the event, Mayor, Cllr Paul Reid said: “I’m delighted as mayor for all the citizens of the borough to welcome Elected Members and our guests from Irish language groups and musicians to The Braid in Ballymena.
“Linda, from East Belfast Mission, delivered an excellent and informative presentation which was enjoyed by myself and a number of my elected colleagues.
“It is council’s vision that everyone who lives and works in Mid and East Antrim should feel welcome, safe, respected and celebrated. Events like this are important to council as we continue to ‘Work Together to Create a Better Future for All’. This is Community Planning in action.”
Linda Ervine is a development officer at East Belfast Mission and the wife of former Progressive Unionist Party leader, Brian Ervine.
Mrs Ervine’s presentation explored the hidden history of the many historical links between the Protestant/unionist community and the Irish language.
Mrs Ervine said: “It was great to raise awareness of the linguistic links between Irish and Scottish Gaelic, especially in Ballymena, an area with such strong links to Scotland.
“I’m pleased to be working with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council again to explore the history of the Irish language, one of the oldest and most historical written languages in the world.”
Dr Niall Comer, President of Conradh na Gaeilge added: “On behalf of Conradh na Gaeilge, I want to thank Cllr Paul Reid and Mid and East Antrim Council for organising such an enjoyable event celebrating Seachtain na Gaeilge in conjunction with the Irish speaking community within the council area.
“This year Irish speakers celebrate 125 years since the start of the Irish language revival and it is fair to say that Co Antrim has been central to the start of the revival in 1893 with the input of people from diverse backgrounds such as Rose Young and Roger Casement.
“This event in The Braid shows that the Irish speaking community locally, from Larne to Crosskeys, from Ballymena to Carnlough, continues to play its part in highlighting the vibrancy of Irish, a language that belongs to us all regardless of background.”
Ballymena-based group Glór Dhal Riada were also in attendance.
Member, Rosie Lyness said: “We’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary of promoting the Irish language and culture in the Ballymena and Glenravel areas.
“Glór Dhal Riada is named after the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada, which originated when Irish speakers from north Antrim brought their language and writings with them to Scotland.
“Gaelic is still spoken today on the islands of Barra and Lewis. Many place names in both Scotland and Ireland are in fact Gaelic. Our motto is ‘Beatha An Teanga í A Labhairt’ meaning ‘speak a language and it lives’, we’re delighted that through events like this one, we can continue to promote and nurture the Irish language and culture, making it a living identity for all.”
The event was supported by The Executive Office through Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Good Relations Programme.