Erin Hamilton, Irish Language Officer, DCSDC, the Mayor of Derry and Strabane Colr. Michaela Boyle, Pól Ó Frighil, Policy Officer, DCSDC, and Aisling NÌ Fhearraigh, Foras na Gaeilge,
Seachtain na Gaeilge, or Irish Language Week, was officially launched on Friday in the Mayor's Parlour in the Guildhall.
The festival, which is now in it's 20th year, was created to celebrate the Irish language and encourage more people to 'bain trial aisti,' or to give it a go.
It originally started as one week, hence the name, but has expanded over time and now lasts for 17 days.
It is predominantly celebrated in Ireland but there are events happening as far away as Australia and America.
Erin Hamilton and Pól Ó Frighil are the Irish Language Officers in Derry City and Strabane District Council and they are both delighted to provide such an expansive programme of events planned for the festival.
They have teamed up with Donegal District Council to plan a range of events throughout the two districts and Cultúlann Uí Chanáin also have a full programme of events planned.
Foras na Gaeilge are providing funding for a lot of the events.
Some events have been linked with other worldwide celebrations during the festival.
Cara Park will be reading a translated Japanese book, called Sayonara, to the children from the local Irish primary schools as part of World Book Day and secondary school children are invited to hear from four successful women who work in Irish for International Women's Day.
The festival is not just for those who already speak Irish.
The Cultúlann is holding a two day Irish course March 7-8 and is suitable for everyone, from complete beginners to those wanting to brush up on their skills.
Erin says this festival is a great way to show off the amazing facilities we have in this city for Irish speakers and how far the language has come in the past few years.
“The Irish language sector has grown so much in recent years, for both children and adult learners. Unfortunately, we don't have an Irish language secondary school yet but there has been a massive intake in the primary schools over the past 10 to 15 years,” she said.
Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin are celebrating their 10th birthday this year and it was marked with the highest intake of adult learners so far with over 300 learners attending classes weekly.
Mayor Michaela Uí Bhaoil has said she is delighted to be able to launch Seachtain na Gaeilge and she is looking forward to attending as many events as she can.
“It's fantastic that we have organisations like Foras na Gaeilge and Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin in operaton throughout the district as it's so important that we promote the language.
“Irish schools and organisations do amazing things on such a small budget and when you look at the children who attend Irish schools, it provides fantastic opportunities for the children and their families.”
Seachtain na Gaeilge runs from March 1-17 and the full programme of events can be found at www.derrystrabane.com/gaeilge and Culturlann.org.
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