Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, a man known in every household as the voice of GAA and admired for his renowned ability to retain the most miniscule and abstract detail relating to imreoirí and bainisteoirí alike, arrived in Caisleán an Bharraigh last week to launch the Irish language scheme Oscail an Doras.
The scheme was organised by Gnó Mhaigh Eo in conjunction with Conradh na Gaeilge, its aim is to promote the language among businesses, not only in the county town, but across Maigh Eo with Cathair na Mart earmarked as the next town to see the introduction of Oscail an Doras. The idea is to identify Irish speakers in selected shops and restaurants who are capable and willing to converse with their custaiméirí in the native tongue and the launch in Staunton’s Pharmacy, Castlebar, last week proved very successful.
The shelves in the well known Main Street pharmacy were pushed aside, seats laid out and a stage prepared, as Pat and Anne Staunton opened their doors to welcome cainteoirí Gaeilge, GAA enthusiasts, councillors, and friends to the launch of Oscail an Doras. The venue, while unconventional, could not have been more suitable, as guests were invited to the heart of the main street in one of its most well established businesses to welcome Mícheál and boast the plethora of Irish speakers the town has to offer. It was a pleasant surprise for many to see Ita Staunton in attendance. The first to speak on the night, she welcomed Mícheál and all who were attending the event, and did so with her ‘Leaving Cert Irish’ which has clearly stood to her after all these years.
Pat Staunton was next to take to the podium, where he spoke of a great fondness for the guest speaker. He talked of his great ability while commentating, to introduce his cúpla focal into his broadcasts in such a natural manner, a skill for which many across the country hold great admiration. Following the same example, he then addressed his guests as Gaeilge, where he spoke about the importance of the Irish language and the duty we have in keeping it alive: “Tá sí mar chuid dár n-oidhreacht agus mar chuid dár gcultúr.” He finished by quoting his mother on one of her much used seanfhocail: "Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam" - a country without a language is a country without a soul.
Daithí Ó Gallachóir, development officer of Gnó Mhaigh Eo, took on the role of compere for the night as he introduced the speakers to the stage. Colmán Ó Raghallaigh, the man responsible for establishing the pilot scheme in Claremorris, was next to address the crowd of approximately eighty people. With a background in teaching and being well qualified in the field of study relating to all things Gaelach, he related a historic story where a man was being prosecuted in the early 1900s for having his name printed as Gaeilge on his cart as he traded at the local market. A solicitor volunteered to defend him in court and assured him he had fought similar cases in the past, which was in fact an untruth. However, he fought his case and won, and despite it being the solicitor’s first time in court, it would not be his last, as the man in question was Pádraig Mac Piarais, PH Pearse. Colmán went on to acknowledge the hard work of Gnó Mhaigh Eo and Conradh na Gaeilge in putting the scheme together and informed the audience that work had already begun on locating Irish speakers in Béal an Átha and that Cathair na Mart would be the next target.