Nov 23, 2018
Today's episode episode was recorded in the East Belfast Mission, on the Newtownards Road with Linda Ervine. Linda has been the driving force behind setting up Turas, which provides Irish lessons and talks on the Irish language on the Newtownards Road, making it the only Irish language centre based in a Unionist community, It was great to record this episode with Linda to get an insight into how Turas came about, its challenges, and what they have planned for the future.
In this episode we also talked about the current political landscape within Unionism, and quite a few other interesting topics that will give you a real perspective on some of the problems that exist in the north today, and especially how they relate to the irish language.
To give you a bit of perspective on the political geography of Belfast if you are not familiar with it, many areas in Belfast were separated in the late 60's, early 70's by what are known as peace walls which separated protestant areas from catholic areas, and the walls are still there today.
If you go down the falls road at any time of the day these days you will see tourists stopping at the wall to take photos and to some degree the walls have become a tourist attraction but in many places still serve as a kind of psychological security blanket, but whatever way you look at it, they are there to keep people apart from each other. Whether or not all of the walls are actually needed any more is an area of debate but as of today the vast majority of walls that have gone up in Belfast have never been taken down for one reason or another.
One of the results of living in a conflict area is that we didn't travel around the to other parts of the much for security reasons and while this isnt as big an issue as it was before, I think it is still present in Belfast today. Areas that are populated with a majority of Catholics or Protestants are pretty self contained with their own shops and clubs etc. So being from West Belfast, I was rarely in East Belfast, and this was only my second time out on the Newtownards Road where the podcast was recorded.
The Irish language in Belfast has seen a massive revival in the last number of decades, and it is the language that i have always spoken at home with family, when I was at school, and going about everyday business. The Irish language movement is completely non sectarian, and non religious, but at the same time revival was very much concentrated in the largely catholic areas of Belfast. Developments like the Cultúrlann, the Gaeltacht Quarter, Raidió fáilte, Glór na Móna and Coláiste Feirste have made the language a part of everyday life in West Belfast today. it is a massive step for the Irish language movement to have people from protestant communities speaking, learning, teaching, and taking ownership of the language, which has always belonged equally to anyone who wants to use it.
The work that Linda is doing with the language in East belfast is monumental, and has got very positive implications for Belfast and for the language as a whole, which is why i was looking forward to having the chats with her.
Get in touch on FB or twitter and let me know what you think of this, and when you have listened to it share this episode around. Enjoy!
Relevant links below