While the best in Irish music and dance will be on display at this year’s Fleadh, Áras an Mhuilinn (beside Mullingar Arts Centre) will be the base for all things Gaeilge-related.
Mullingar’s Seachtain na Gaeilge committee has an extensive number of events taking place throughout the week of Fleadh 2023, with something for those of all ages, with fluent Irish or only cúpla focal.
One of those busy preparing the series of events is Maureen Úí Muirí, a teacher at Gaelscoil an Mhuilinn in Mullingar, who says the goal of Seachtain na Gaeilge at Fleadh is to prove that everything can be done through the medium of Irish.
“From the perspective of the Seachtain na Gaeilge committee, we’re trying to run everything through Irish and show that everything can be done through Irish as well. We’re facilitating young and old this year. We’ve a céilí for all ages which was well attended last year. It was real eye-opener to see that. It showed that music is just the one language. We had people who didn’t have English or Irish, but there were all out on the floor dancing together.”
For children, a host of morning events will take place every day during the week of Fleadh 2023, ranging from art classes to puppet shows. Biologist and television presenter Éanna Ní Lamhna will be leading a nature walk as Gaeilge around Mullingar on Wednesday, 9 August. For those looking to improve their set dancing skills, dancing ace Úna Ní Fhlatharta will be on hand with a set dancing class on Thursday, 10 August.
A native of Leitir Móir in the heart of the Connemara Gaeltacht, Maureen says that while she may be fluent in our first language, she encourages all those with only the smallest of Irish to speak it if the opportunity arises.
“What’s wrong with most people is they lack confidence in themselves to speak Irish. As that old saying goes – Is Fearr Gaeilge Briste Ná Béarla Cliste (Broken Irish is Better Than Clever English). Use your cúpla focal. Last year we encountered so many people who spoke of being able to speak Irish long ago, but were unable to speak it any more. All that was missing for was the opportunity to speak Irish, but they all made an effort and that’s all we’re looking for.”