Wednesday 25 October 2017: Ian Davidson: Head of Arts and Heritage, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
Mr Davidson was accompanied by Miss Fiona Crudden, Good Relations Officer, FoDC, and together they provided an informative account of of the Council’s Irish Language Policy. Adopted in 2015 following widespread consultation it was reported that 5% of the population have a working knowledge of Irish. FoDC promotes the development of Irish Language and Culture in a variety of ways. Grants and bursaries are available for groups and individuals to attend summer courses in the Gaeltacht. There is support for local cultural events and Irish language classes are offered in both Omagh and Enniskillen. Singing, drama and dance rooted in gaeltacht traditions are supported in local schools where programmes of ceili dancing have proved popular – even among boys. When Fiona visits schools she finds considerable interest in the origins and Irish roots of townland names. Mr Davidson’s and Miss McCrudden presentation was followed by a lengthy question and answer session in which members asked about the similarities and differences between Irish Gaelic and Scots Gallic, inquired about Irish phonetics and grammar and the meanings of some local place names. The only question to stump the presenters related to the proposal for an Irish Language Act in the Northern Ireland Assembly about which, they asserted, little was known.