Ireland’s leading Irish language festival, Éigse Cholm Cille, has just celebrated another successful year in Derry.
Having been established more than a decade ago, Eigse Cholm Cille hosts conferences each March at the University of Ulster, Magee Campus.
Éigse was first formed in 2002 by local writer Aodh Ó Canainn and Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin, Director of the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute (Magee), with the aim of promoting an awareness and heritage of the Irish language and its literature.
Over the years, an impressive variety of topics have drawn people to the Great Hall and last weekend was no exception. This year’s festival took as its theme, ‘The Irish Language in North America.’
Festival directors, Dr. Peadar Mac Gabhann and Mary Delargy, certainly compiled a great line-up, with speakers from as far afield as Illinois, Ontario and New Brunswick all featuring in the Derry festival.
On Friday evening past the audience learned of the work of the Fulbright Commission which provides scholarships for Irish academics to spend time teaching and researching at American universities and this was followed by a talk on the Ireland-Canada Foundation which facilitates the development of links between Irish and Canadian universities.
The keynote address was then delivered by Professor Emeritus Peter Toner of the University of New Brunswick, he provided a fascinating analysis of Irish language survival in eastern Canada, and the evening was brought to a fitting conclusion when the audience were treated to songs of emigration sung by Brian Mullen and Tony Mac Ruairí, this year’s winner of Corn na bhFear at Oireachtas na Gaeilge.
On Saturday the audience were captivated once again thanks to discussions on topics such as Irish manuscripts in America in the 19th century, Irish language journalism in North America 1850-1930, the history of Irish in American Universities, the teaching of Irish in North America today, and the work in America of the influential Irish scholar Richard Henebry.
Éigse 2013 was rounded off by a series of short talks from scholars who had worked in America talking about their experiences promoting the Irish language in the States and Canada.