Spraoi Cois Laoi in full swing

Kate Magner

This week An Chuallacht, the Irish language society, hold their annual festival, Spraoi Cois Laoi. Postponed last year due to the floods and the tragic death of a UCC student, this year’s Spraoi Cois Laoi is set to be what one organiser called “the best week ever.”

The week kicked off Monday afternoon with a balloon release from the Amphitheatre. The balloons cost €2, with all proceeds given to Suicide Aware.  An Céilí Mór (the Irish ball) took place Monday night in the Imperial Hotel with a mulled wine reception, harpist, Irish dancing and DJ. Guest of the night was TG4 personality Sinéad Ní Loideáin.

Today the Cumann Dramaíochta put on a production of the short drama Eibhlín Rua at 1pm in the Aula Maxima, while tonight there is free bowling in the Mardyke. On Wednesday afternoon there will be a ‘Bouncy céilí’ in the Amphitheatre with Irish dancing, music by Tradsoc and a bouncing castle. A mystery gig organised by SU Irish officer, Siobhán de Paor, is taking place that night in the Old Bar. Thursday afternoon, Irish poet Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh will give a reading in the Seomra Caidrimh (O’Rahilly building, beside the Coffee Dock). The festival will end Thursday night with ‘Take me out as Gaeilge’ in the Star.

An Chuallacht auditor, Caoimhín Ó Muireasa said organising the festival was “a group effort” by everyone in the society. Despite cuts to their funding and a reduction in the circulation of their magazine ‘Craic’, the society continues to have a strong following. This year, their biggest event so far has been their weekend trip to Oireachtas na Samhna in Killarney.

“It was the best weekend I’ve ever had in years,” says Caoimhín, “I was really happy with the weekend ‘cause it showed people had the interest.” An Chuallacht are planning more events with a mystery tour in December or January, Seachtain na Gaeilge in March and a possible trip to Brussels to meet Irish language commissioner, Seán Ó Riain. They are also collaborating with other societies for events such as the ‘Use your tongue’ language exchange evenings, the Languages ball and the European film week (Nov. 29th-Dec. 3rd).

Asked about the attitude of UCC students to Irish, Caoimhín replied that the majority of students studying Irish “seem to be doing Irish as a subject… but they don’t have any interest in it outside of hours… It can be really disheartening.”

Speaking to the Express, Prof. Alan Titley, head of the Irish department, believes “a goodly number of people in the Irish department will attend” Spraoi Cois Laoi this week. While he notes that student activities can suffer because of the recent cutbacks, he described an Chuallacht as “quite a lively bunch,” and was quick to praise them, stating that they are “a very good bunch of people and they seem to do a lot of good work. I’m very happy with them.”

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