Banagher Library played host to the launch of an booklet of short stories as Gaeilge on Thursday evening of last week. The event drew a great group of people who share a love and a passion of the Irish language.
Launched by Banagher Irish circle, who are increasing in numbers all the time, the booklet makes for a lovely read of the several stories printed in it. The cover is a painting by the well know local artist Mary McCormack and is a fascinating piece of art.
Former St Rynagh’s and Offaly hurler Damien Martin, who set up the group about three years ago, said he was delighted to be in a position to declare the booklet launched. The group are not just interested in keeping the Irish language alive and well, but they have also carved out a friendship between themselves, becoming familiar with each other. They welcome new members and if you are a weak Irish speaker but have an interest in learning more of the language then you are invited to attend one of their gatherings any Thursday night in Corrigan’s Corner House from 8pm. “Weaker speakers will get lessons to help them develop and there’s no pressure on anyone to feel they have to learn,” said a member of the group Michael Marrinan. The group came up with the idea of writing and publishing this booklet from within the members of the group and which by all accounts has turned out to be a very popular decision. “It’s a sort of a record of our time together,” said Michael. Grant aided by Glór na nGael and St Rynagh’s, the booklet is available in Banagher Library and is a free booklet.
The Banagher Irish Circle group are hoping to publish an even bigger book of stories and are appealing to adults who live in Banagher or the general West Offaly area to get their stories in to them. It won’t matter if the story is written in English or Irish as they will be translated and can be given to any member of the group. “Everyone has a story to tell” said Michael “and maybe someone remembers the great snow of 1947” he said. “We will go through them and pick out 20 or maybe more and see what we can publish” he said, explaining that the group would like to create an archive for the Banagher Library of stories from Banagher and the general area.
Earlier in the year the children in the school undertook a treasure hunt where they were given a list of questions in Irish. Michael thanked the shops and pubs in the town who facilitated the group with their windows for the treasure hunt. Children had to find twelve things that were on the list and identify what shop they saw it in. “ It was very interesting the stories we heard from the children too,” said Michael.
This little booklet is the first book to be printed in Irish in Offaly since 1795. “A priest in Tullamore who attended an Irish College in Europe, wrote a book in 1795 called ‘Teagasc Chríostaí’. There was a great feeling at that time in the Catholic Church that their religious freedom was been lost and that the old religion was in danger and that the fallen Government was putting pressure on the people of Ireland to leave their old religion and to turn to the new religion, the Church of Ireland. The book was popular and covered many areas in Ireland but only one known copy still survives and that it with a family in Tullamore,” Michael declared, adding that there hasn’t been a book written in Irish in Co. Offaly in 224 years, until the Banagher Irish Circle published their short stories last week. After the launch the group adjourned to the Corner House for refreshments with ceol caint agus craic.