Gaelic Bus Tour of Belfast

Fleadh Feirste- Saturday, 7th December 2019

In December, we organised a bus tour with Conchúr Óg Mac Siacais to uncover Belfast’s Gaelic history. The tour commenced at an Chultúrlann Mac Adam Ó Fiaich in West Belfast, a building which itself holds a great deal of historic significance. An Chultúrlann was founded in 1991, and it was the first settlement of Coláiste Feirste, the largest Irish medium secondary school in the North. An Chultúrlann is named in memory of two of the Irish language’s heroes, Robert ‘Shipboy’ MacAdam and Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich.

From An Chultúrlann, we headed for East Belfast. During this part of the journey, we passed the Beersbridge Road where the first branch of Conradh na Gaeilge was founded in Belfast in 1895. John St. Clair Boyd, an assistant surgeon who had a particular interest in the Irish language, was the first president of the branch. St. Clair Boys is buried in the city cemetery.

The next section of the tour took us to the Skainos Centre, where the Irish language organisation ‘Turas’ is located. We met with Linda Ervine who gave us a great insight into the history and mission of their organisation. According to Linda, Irish belongs to everyone and this message is reflected in the amazing work that Linda, Gordon and the staff of Turas carry out on a daily basis.

We then returned to West Belfast and received an amazing insight into other significant places and organisations in the city such as Bombay Street, Belfast Ardscoil, Ráidió Fáilte and Cumann Chluain Ard. Perhaps the most interesting section of the journey was our visit to the Shaw’s Road Gaeltacht, the first urban Gaeltacht which was set up by a group of Irish language activists in the city in 1969.  The same group of activists founded the first Irish-medium primary school in the  north, Bunscoil Phobal Feirste, in 1971 and the school was officially recognised in 1984.

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and learned a lot!