Gnó Mhaigh Eo office officially opened by an Taoiseach
The new Gnó Mhaigh Eo office on Main Street, Castlebar was officially opened by an Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, on Monday 14th December. A large crowd gathered for the occasion, including the Cathaoirleach and Chief Executive of Mayo County Council and many of the councillors. Local business people turned out and a large group from Craftworks Mayo were there to show their support. To start off the evening, an tAthair Micheál Mac Gréil was invited to bless the new office space, and he blessed it with a special prayer: ‘Go mbeannaí Dia an oifig nua seo, óna bun go dtí a barr; Go mbeannaí sé gach fordoras, gach cloch is gach clár’.
Gnó Mhaigh Eo’s Development Officer, Daithí Ó Gallachóir, spoke about some of the projects in the planning for the new year, including an initiative called ‘Oscail an Doras’, which was piloted in Claremorris this year, and will be rolled out in Castlebar in 2016. This project will identify Irish speakers working in businesses around the town, and will give an opportunity to people to use their ‘cúpla focal’ on a daily basis.
Councillor Tereasa Maguire spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors of Gnó Mhaigh Eo, and she referred to the old Irish proverb ‘Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam’ - a country without a language, is a country without a soul - thus highlighting the importance of the work being done by the organisation to promote the use of the Irish language in business around Mayo.
Dr Aodhán Mac Cormaic from the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht gave an insight into the research carried out in Galway stating that the Irish language is worth in excess of €136 million annually to the economy of Galway city and county, and said that there was no reason why Mayo, being the home of Gaeltacht areas, would not benefit in a similar manner. He also spoke about the Department’s plan to develop Gaeltacht Service Towns and that the towns of Castlebar, Ballinrobe and Belmullet have been identified as possible Gaeltacht Service Towns in Mayo. Under the Gaeltacht Act 2012, Gaeltacht Service Towns are defined as towns situated in or adjacent to Gaeltacht Language Planning Areas and which have a significant role in providing public services, recreational, social and commercial facilities for those areas. An organisation situated in the town must be chosen to prepare and implement a language plan in accordance with the language planning criteria prescribed in the Act and he said that Gnó Mhaigh Eo could possibly be the organisation which would develop this plan for Castlebar.
An Taoiseach addressed the crowd as Gaeilge and spoke about the importance of the Irish language and the work being done by Gnó Mhaigh Eo to allow people the opportunity to use the language in a natural environment on a daily basis. He also referred to the advantages of bilingualism and that the Irish language, being an official language of the European Union, improved opportunities for work. He referred to the Government’s plans to commemorate the 1916 Rising and spoke about the involvement of the many Irish language speakers in that important part of the nation’s history.
Once the formalities were over, people were able to enjoy the food from the special ‘Déanta i Maigh Eo’ menu prepared by RUA. There was lively traditional music by Foxford natives, Tom Doherty and David Doocey, and some sean-nós dancing by Liam Ó Scanláin. There was a colourful display of many of the products which are ‘Déanta i Maigh Eo’ including some of the wonderful crafts of Craftworks Mayo. An Taoiseach was presented with a hamper full of gifts made in Mayo that use Irish language branding, and Newport artist, Saileen Drumm, also presented him with one of her paintings. The artists, Damien Moran and Pamela Gray, were also in attendance and an Taoiseach commented on their wonderful artwork which has brightened up the alleyway which leads into the new Gnó Mhaigh Eo office.