18th March 2020

Óráid Ghearóid Uí Mhachail ag Oscailt Aonach Mhacha

A chomrádaithe, a chomhoibrithe, a chairde Gaeil, a dhaoine uaisle

Bhuel, tá ár lá linn sa dheireadh thiar thall. Thosaigh muid amach ar an turas fada seo trí bhliain déag ó shin gan mórán cairde agus gan airgead ar bith ag an am sin. Ach bhí aisling againn. Bhí misneach againn agus ní raibh duine ar bith a dhul muid a choineáil siar.

Rinne roinnt daoine iarracht muid a chur ar strae ach bhí an coinceap ag bailiú nirt agus níos tabhachtaí  ná sin bhí pobal laidir in ár ndiaidh.

Ard Mhacha is a special place. As Áínín alluded to in her opening remarks, there is an historical and a cultural aura in Ard Mhacha that you don’t get in many other places. The ancient capital of Ulster has many assets and treasures, not least our built heritage that combines an C18th streetscape with some fine Georgian architecture.

In recent years sterling work has been done on regenerating and revitalising the inner core of the City. Ard Mhacha is now a beautiful place to live and visit. Aonach Mhacha is a major addition to our city and indeed to the Shambles area. The Shambles was once such an important commercial and social hub that has suffered to some extent from the gravitation towards Market Street and the commercial centre. The pendulum is swinging back again to some extent with new restaurants and micro-enterprises springing up that are bringing life back to this former bustling market area.

But what is a City without its people. Unfortunately, Ard Mhacha has many areas where poverty and social deprivation are rife. Areas where families and individuals struggle to maintain a roof over their heads and a decent standard of living for their families. Where children go to school hungry and where work is often insecure and low paid.

Our new Cultúrlann is situated in the Callan Bridge electoral ward – a ward that has consistently appeared in the top 10% of the most deprived wards in na sé chontae. That is intolerable and a disgrace in a City where there is ample wealth and resources to go around. It is immoral that some live in luxury while others live on their nerves and from food banks.

Part of the mission of Aonach Mhacha is to identify ways in which we can encourage people from economically deprived areas of the City to engage in community and cultural enterprise, in cooperativism and in grass roots initiatives to address not just cultural inequality in our City but also social inequality, income inequality and life chance inequality. We aim to encourage and incubate new community enterprises and cultural cooperatives.

We shall be offering training, employment and community development initiatives and exploring ways in which our communities can help themselves as we have seen the successive failure of statutory initiatives to address the serious problems that face us.

Is cuid de ghluaiseacht óg bhríomhar atá ag fás Aonach Mhacha, agus mo ghrúpa féin CAIRDE Teoranta. Tá níos mó ná 500 páiste i gCathair Ard Mhacha atá ag freastal ar Ghaelscoil i láthair na huaire. Tá i bhfad Éireann níos mó páiste a bhfuil grá agus dáimh acu dár dteanga féin atá ag déanamh staidéar ar an Ghaeilge agus a théann chun na Gaeltacha agus a thugann tacaíocht d’imeachtaí trí mheán na Gaeilge anseo in Ard Mhacha. Tá muid frithsheicteach agus tá sé d’aidhm againn ár dteanga álainn, An Ghaeilge, a bheith ar fáil do gach duine is cuma cén cúlra atá acu.

Níl ó phobal na Gaeilge ach a gcearta bunúsacha i sochaí atá ilteangach go maith cheana féin. Tá go leor le hofráil againn don chathair seo ó thaobh na heacnamaíochta, ó thaobh na fostaíocthta de, ó thaobh an tsaoil shóisialta de agus ó thaobh an chultúir ar le gach duine é.  Tugann muid tacaíocht iomlán do Dearg le Fearg agus don fheachtas d’Acht Gaeilge agus seasann muid lenár gcairde ar fud na tíre atá ag síor-fheachtasaíocht ar son ár gcearta go léir.

Aonach Mhacha agus mo ghrúpa féin CAIRDE Teoranta are part of a growing, vibrant, youthful and progressive movement. We have over 500 children in Armagh City who attend Irish medium education schools. We have many more young people who love and cherish ár dteanga féin, who study Irish at school, who visit An Ghaeltacht and who support Irish language events in the town. We are anti-sectarian and it is our aim to make our beloved Gaeilge welcoming and available to all in our community.

Bím míchompairdeash when I hear people talking about the two communities in the north of Ireland. In Ard Mhacha we are Irish, British, Bulgarian, Bangladeshi, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Syrian, Muslim, Atheist, Catholic, Protestant, Seikh, Hindu, Buddhist and Jew. Modern Ard Mhacha is a rich tapestry of cultural diversity, welcoming to new communities and cultures and long may it continue.

Níl dearmad déanta againn orthu siúd a chuaigh romhainn. Seasann muid anseo inniu ar ghualacha fathach; pobal dílis na Gaeilge a shiúl sráideanna Ard Mhacha romhainn. Ar an drochuair, tá barraíocht acu ann lena lua uilig ach tá mé thar a bheith sásta oiread acu a fheiceáil inár gcuideachta anseo inniu.

On a personal level, I must thank a small handful of people who have shared my vision throughout this long journey. Mo chomh stiúrthóirí Seán, Áinín, An tOllamh Pól Stiubhard a tháinig as Grenoble le Veronica aréir. Stiofán Mac Cléirigh a thug tearmann domh i nDroim Airg nuair ní raibh cara eile ar bith agam. Réamonn Ó Ciaráin – an taon duine a thuig aisling s’agamsa ón tús. Phelim Maguire a choinnigh an tionscadal ag dul ar aghaidh nuair a bhí muid faoi ionsaí ón achan carn. Mark Curran  – if any one individual deserves credit for bringing Aonach Mhacha together in the last few weeks and months, its Mark. Go raibh mile maith agat Mark. Sarah Cargill – for remaining a beacon of calm through the troubled waters over the years. Best wishes to you Sarah and to your new, young family. Míle buíochas do Ghearóid Mac Giolla Fhaoláin, do Cholm Mac Gabhann, do Shannon agus do Thiarnán, do Malachy Ó Néill ó Red Neds Bar as an urraíocht don fháiltiú fiona. Tony Hughes ó Tony’s Bar & Grill agus a fhoireann atá ag déanamh réidh an bia inniú. Do Mark agus do Conor ó ACDC Signs.

Beidh Seán Ó Maoilsté ag gabháil buíochas le hachan duine a bhí bainte leis an tionscadal seo ag deireadh an searmanais seo.

Last but not least. Beidh orm cúpla uine eile a lua. Is iad na daoine is tabhachtaí i mo shaol féin;  mo chéile Máire agus mo ghasúirí Sárán agus Caolán. Coinníonn sibh beo mé agus is sibhse m’inspioráid.

Céad mile buíochas go léir.

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