Celebrating Bliain na Gaeilge: Year of the Irish Language

Ní Neart go Cur le Chéile: Pop-Up Gaeltacht joins Conradh na Gaeilge and Red Hook Peacemakers in a Worthy Cause
As Ireland celebrates Bliain na Gaeilge (Year of the Irish Language), the 125th anniversary of the founding of Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League), an organization dedicated to teaching and preserving the Irish language, the League’s Brooklyn branch, Cumann Cháitlín agus Thomáis Uí Chléirigh were joined by the Peacemakers from the Red Hook Community Justice Center for a night of learning, laughter, music and feasting that participants will remember throughout the year and beyond.
On Thursday, January 11th, the new Rocky Sullivan’s on Beard Street was the scene of the Brooklyn Pop-Up Gaeltacht, the first to occur in NYC’s outer boroughs.  In Ireland, a Gaeltacht is an Irish-speaking region.  The Pop-Up Gaeltacht concept began in Dublin in late 2016, to gather Gaeilgeoirí (Irish-speakers) for an informal evening in a pub.  Surprisingly successful, the idea spread throughout Ireland and abroad, with four such events in Manhattan since then.  Facebook Link
Cumann Cháitlín agus Thomáis Uí Chléirigh is actually a recently re-instated branch of Conradh na Gaeilge which was founded as “The Brooklyn Gaelic Society” by Irish patriots Tom and Kathleen Clarke who lived in Brooklyn before returning to Ireland to make history in that country’s struggle for freedom.

For New York’s first Bliain na Gaeilge event, the Gaeilgeoirí welcomed the Peacemakers to join in the celebration.  Funds were raised for the group’s annual young people’s trip to the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.   Irish speakers, both native and learners joined in supporting this worthy cause. 
Along with providing a generous tasty meal, the Peacemakers conducted a raffle of prizes consisting of valuable history books and art and photography by young people who participate in their programs.  Freewill offerings were also made.  An amount of over $1000 was raised in one evening, about a third of the total required for the Washington trip.
Much of the Peacemakers’ work is based on a traditional Native American approach to communication.   Author and activist Michael Patrick McDonald spoke about its life-saving importance and effectiveness in problem-resolution.
The Conradh branch was also especially honored to have Peacemakers Coleta Walker and Jackie Renaud-Rivera join Branch President Chris Finnigan as Dignitary Guests in presenting An Fáinne Airgid, the Silver Fáine (ring) to six students of the Tuesday night Irish class, Ozan Akcin, Angela Bruen, Chris Byrne, Chris Galligan, Mícheál Murtagh and Kevin Noble who have made impressive progress in Irish language proficiency.    This new symbol will now identify them to other Gaeilgeoirí as ready and willing to speak Ireland’s national language.
Coleta and Jackie’s great interest and curiosity encouraged the Fáinne recipients.  Both Peacemakers proved themselves to be fine and daring students themselves, and seemed delighted to learn how shouting “Ciúnas” (“Silence!”) could effectively win the attention of a large room full of Irish speakers!
The Gaels and the Peacemakers really have much in common, as both are striving to revive traditional forms of communication as a living and effective endeavor in our own time.

Ní neart go cur le chéile!  Strength in unity!
Further information about the Irish classes and events conducted by Cumann Cháitlín agus Thomáis Uí Chléirigh are available by writing to [email protected].
Those who would like to contribute to the Peacemakers’ Washington trip are encouraged to call 718-923-8200.

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