THE sights, sounds, language and culture of Ireland came to Edinburgh for the day as The Consulate General of Ireland, GAA Scotland and Conradh na Gaeilge Glaschu joined forces to deliver yet another exciting Irish Culture and Heritage Day.
The annual event is one of the many chances the Irish community in Scotland has to celebrate and share our culture, with the great strides being taken by organisations across the country demonstrating the confidence and energy that Irish culture now boasts here.
Gathering at The Grange Club in Stockbridge, scores of Scotland’s Irish community joined with many friends of Ireland to enjoy a feast of traditional Irish music, Irish dance (above), poetry, storytelling and family history. Outside, on the club’s ample playing fields, the best of Irish sport in Scotland with demonstrated with exhibitions of underage, ladies’ and men’s Gaelic football.
For the first time, the gala day also featured an exhibition of hurling and camogie courtesy of Ceann Creige, with taster sessions for those interested in swinging a hurley for the first time.
Consul General meets community
The Irish Culture and Heritage Day was also an opportunity for the new Consul General of Ireland, Jane McCulloch, to continue familiarising herself with the Irish community in Scotland.
Since her arrival here the Consul has travelled around the country investigating opportunities between Scotland and Ireland, exploring shared cultural and historical links and of course meeting the organisations and individuals who make Irish culture in Scotland so vibrant.
The day before the event at The Grange Club, she was in Clydebank for the official opening of Glasgow Gaels’ home at the Clydebank Community Sports Hub, where the several hundred in attendance were joined by senior GAA and LGFA figures from Ireland.
Ms McCulloch welcomed visitors to Stockbridge during the official launch of the event before young Irish dancers took to the floor for an exhibition of Irish dancing and children’s ceili, and while Gaelic footballers competed throughout the day there were Irish language taster sessions, genealogy workshops and the ever-present sound of Irish music. Edinburgh’s Festival of Ireland took the opportunity to encourage those enjoying Irish culture to become more involved in the city and give their support to their own annual celebration of Irishness.
Also in attendance were local politicians Ben McPherson MSP—who took his first steps in the Irish language—and Deidre Brock MP, who mingled with the crowds and praised the small army of volunteers who made the day possible. Speaking after the event, Ms Brock gave her verdict on a successful day for Irish culture.
“It was a pleasure to meet new Consul General for Ireland Jane McCulloch and Deputy Consul Lisa Marie Joyce with Ben McPherson at the Consulate General of Ireland’s Culture and Heritage Day at The Grange Club today,” she said. “Toe-tapping trad music and Gaelic football matches were particular highlights!”
Highlighting hurling and camogie
The presence of Ceann Creige was a further sign of the progress being made by the club in bringing camogie and hurling to Scotland.
Their taster sessions with the small ball in Edinburgh came at a historic time for the club after participating in their first competition recently. The Ceann Creige camogs took on opponents from Leinster and Ulster in Belfast at the Naomh Eanna Camogie Sevens, and after a warm reception by their hosts immediately repaid them by getting their first win in competition. A 1-10 to 0-6 victory over the home club was the beginning of a famous visit for Ceann Creige, who built on strong performances by Julie Coleman, Fiona O’Shea and Kayleigh Dornan in their first match by going up against Greystones and winning once again. This time Ciara Ryan, Nicola Convery, Maria Walsh and the club’s Indian star Divya Arora worked well to keep the Leinster side at bay to record a second victory. It would perhaps have been too much to ask for a 100 per cent winning start in their final match, and the ladies from Glasgow stumbled against a strong Ballymena side to fall to a one point defeat despite the efforts of SJ McGeown, Grace McBride, Elise McCloy and Ailbhe Ryan, whose goal late on kept hopes of a win alive.
Back home, the club also launched their new kits —purchased with the sponsorship of Friel & Co Ltd and The Dennistoun No1 CSC.
“Myself, along with the other coaches, the players and the parents, would like to say a big massive thank you to our new sponsors,” Chairman and underage coach Liam Luporini said. “With their support our boys and girls can wear their club colours and crest with pride at training and matches”.
The club now hope that by showing the depth of commitment and talent in their ranks on the field and by sharing their passion for hurling and camogie with the wider Irish community in Scotland with events such as that at The Grange Club their own code of the GAA can share in the participation and success being enjoyed by Gaelic football and by other Irish pursuits in Scotland.