Imagine Ireland… A Year of Irish Arts in America

A year-long celebration of Irish arts events in the United States called Imagine Ireland was recently launched by the Irish Government. Actor and Irish cultural ambassador Gabriel Byrne made formal announcements of the project at events held in New York at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and in Washington at the Irish Ambassador’s residence. The Irish Government is investing $5.3 million in the program that will present 400 Irish arts events across the United States throughout 2011.

Working with presenters and producers across the US, more than 2000 Irish artists and ensembles across multiple art forms, Imagine Ireland brings to American audiences a wealth of contemporary creators and a calendar of culture which will reshape and reinvigorate notions of Ireland, what it means to be Irish and the potential for Ireland into the future. Events, to be held in 40 states, will include theater, dance, literature, music, film and visual arts. More than 2,000 artists will participate in the yearlong 40-state Imagine Ireland project.

Speaking at the event in Washington, DC, Mr. Byrne praised the Irish imagination and encouraged Americans of all generations to imagine Ireland for themselves, stating that Ireland’s culture has been consistently evolving: only a culture which changes remains alive; its breath and influence is universal. Consider the stark beauty of early monastic poetry, the subversive ballads and love songs of a repressed Gaelic culture, or the monumental reimagining of an enforced language. Irish artists such as Joyce, Beckett and Yeats spoke from a native imagination to a universal audience. Subversion in art and thus reality was their ambition. In their work they held a mirror up to nature. Today’s artists draw upon that massive inheritance, yet speak with a new voice that is of today, yesterday and tomorrow. Theirs is an inevitable, ever changing voice that recognizes kinship of reality and imagination.

Also speaking at the launch, Ambassador Collins said: One of the great strengths Ireland has is our culture. Indeed, at the Global Irish Economic Forum that took place in Dublin in September 2009, our culture became the story as something that is uniquely and exclusively ours. The name Imagine Ireland evokes the Irish imagination that for centuries has created works of art and culture that resonate with people all around the world. It is also an invitation to America to renew its close ties with Ireland, and to experience what Ireland has to offer through this celebration of Irish arts.

Since its establishment in 2005, Culture Ireland has developed projects and relationships with a range of cultural institutions, festivals, venues and promoters across the US, providing a strong foundation on which the proposed program has taken shape. The Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Irish Embassy in Washington and Consulates?General in the U.S., are working closely with Culture Ireland as key partners in the delivery of the project. In March 2009, in his speech in New York launching the Ireland?U.S. Strategic Policy Review, Taoiseach Brian Cowen requested that Culture Ireland mount a series of strategic events in the United States. At the White House in March 2010, he announced that this season of Irish arts, Imagine Ireland, would take place in 2011.

Culture Ireland’s CEO, Eugene Downes, speaking at the launch said: With Imagine Ireland, we want to take Ireland’s contemporary cultural presence in the US to the next level. We hope this program, presenting renowned artists and ensembles alongside some of our most exciting emerging voices, will seed relationships with new audiences and partners that will grow in the coming years. Schedules and full details of Imagine Ireland can be found on and will be available on

Tomhas na Teanga

Is iomaí “blag” (as an mBéarla “web log”) Gaeilge atá ann ar an idirlíon.  There are many Irish language blogs on the internet. Tá ceann agamsa.  I have one myself. Le trí bliana anuas tá rannóg i gcomórtas liteartha Oireachtas na Gaeilge don bhlagáil, fiú.  For the past 3 years there has been a segment in the Oireachtas’ literary competition for blogging, even. Sin an fhéile náisiúnta in Éirinn a ceiliúrann an cultúr Gaelach (   That’s the national festival in Ireland which celebrates Gaelic culture. Mar sin, bím á léamh beagnach gach lá.  So, I read them almost every day. Le déanaí, scríobh duine darb ainm John, atá in a chónaí i gCaerdydd na Breataine Bige, scríobh sé blagmhír shuimiúil a dhírigh ar mhanaí chomhairlí na gcontaetha in Éirinn (, an ceann ó 8 Meán Fómhair 2010).  Recently, a person named John, who lives in Cardiff, Wales, he wrote an interesting blog entry which focussed on the mottos of the county councils in Ireland (…the one from Sept. 8). Minic go leor, tá ceann as Gaeilge ann.  Lots of times there is an Irish one. Tá roinnt eile díobh as Laidin, as sean Ghaeilge, agus as Béarla.  The rest of them are in Latin, Old Irish, or English.

Seo na cinn as Gaeilge an lae inniu (Here are the ones in today’s Irish):

Baile Átha Cliath (Dublin): Beart de réir ár mBriathar (deed according to our word)

Baile Átha Cliath Theas (South Dublin): Ag Seo Ár gCúram/This We Hold in Trust
Cabhán (Cavan): Feardhacht is Fírinne (manliness (fearúlacht) and truth)

Ciarraí (Kerry): Comhar, Cabhair, Cairdeas (Council, Help, Friendship)

Cill Dara (Kildare): Meanma agus Misneach (Spirit and Courage)
Cill Mhantáin (Wicklow): Meanma Saor  (Free Spirit)
Clár (Clare): Dílis d’ár nOidhreacht (Loyal to our Heritage)

Dún Laoghaire (Dun Laoire) -Ráth an Dúin (Rathdown): Ó Chuan go Sliabh (From Bay to Mountain)

Fine Gall (Fingal): Flúirse Talaimh is Mara (Abundance of Land and Sea)

Gaillimh (Galway): Ceart agus Cóir (Right and Proper)
Laois: I bpáirt leis an bpobal (In partnership with the community)

Longfort: Daingean agus Dílis (secure/strong and loyal)
Luimneach (Limerick): Cuimhnigh ar Luimneach (Remember Limerick)
Maigh Eo (Mayo): Dia is Muire Linn (God and Mary with us)
Mí (Meath): Tré Neart le Chéile (Through Strength Together)
Muineachán (Monaghan): Dúthracht agus Dícheall (zeal and best effort)

Is ionann mana agus rosc catha, is dócha.  A motto is the same as a battle cry, I suppose. Tá ceann cáiliúil a bhain na Royal Irish Fusiliers feidhm as, agus ina ndiaidh bhain an “Fighting 69th” úsáid as, ón gCogadh Cathartha Meiriceánach ar aghaidh.  There is a famous one which was used by… and after them by…, from the American Civil War onwards. Scríobhtar é le traslitriú an Bhéarla de ghnáth:  “Faugh a Ballaigh.” It is usually  written with English transliteration… Ach sin “Fág an Bealach,” litrithe i gceart.   That’s (Get out of the way)…spelled correctly. Dírithe ar dhuine amháin mar atá.  It’s directed at one person only. Tá an t-iolra in úsáid ag Coláiste Íosagáin i mBaile Bhuirne – Fágaigí an Bealach.  The plural is used by… Tá mana deas ag Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm– “Glaine ár gcroí, neart ár ngéag, agus beart de réir ár mbriathar.” The Irish Army Rangers Wing has a nice motto – Purity of our heart, strength of our limb and deed according to our word.

Tá manaí ag a lán sloinnte Éireannacha, freisin.  A lot of Irish surnames have mottos, too. Tá an chuid is mó díobh as Laidin (agus as Fraincis!), ach tá roinnt as Gaeilge ann.  Most of them are in Latin (and French!), but there are some in Irish. Fuair mé ar an idirlíon iad I found them on the internet (, agus táim cinnte nach bhfuil gach ceann ceart, ach seo roinnt díobh:  and I’m sure they aren’t all correct, but here are some of them:

Lámh Dearg Éireann  Red Hand of Ireland

Lámh Láidir an Uachtar Strong Hand on Top

Arm Dúchas Native Army

Mullach abú Up with the uppermost

Crom abú  Up with Crom (the ancient god)

Sionnach abú Up with Fox (guess which surname…)

an t-uachtar The Cream (best)

Ciall agus Neart Sense and Strength

bhris mé mo ghreim I loosed my grip

bua victory

Dar ndóigh, tá mana a fheictear ar an mbratach uaine leis an gcláirseach – traslitrithe don Bhéarla arís:  “Erin go Bragh” nó mar sin.  Of course, there is a motto which is seen on the green flag with the harp – transliterated to English again… Litrithe i gceart, sin Éirinn go Brách.  Spelled right… Go minic úsáidtear an tuiseal tabharthach “Éirinn” in ionad an tuisil ainmnigh “Éire.”  Often the dative case  Éirinn is used instead of the nominative case “Éire.” Truailliú na teanga sean-bhunaithe sin. That’s a long-standing corruption of the language. Dála an scéil, dar le wikipedia, na céad daoine chun an bratach sin a úsáid, ba Éireannaigh iad a throid in éadan na Stáit Aontaithe sa chogadh le Meicsiceo! By the way, according to w., the first people to use that flag were Irish who fought against the US in the war with Mexico!.

Ba é Piaras Ó Béaslaí a thug do Phádraig Mac Piarais an ceann seo:  “Éire Saor agus Éire Gaelach.”  POB gave Patrick Pierce this one:  “A Free Ireland and a Gaelic Ireland.”  Tá a lán eile ann mar sin, a bhí i mbéal na ndaoine.  There are lots of others which people said. Mar shampla, “Tír , Talamh is Teaghlach.” For example, “Country, Land and Family.”

An é mana oifigiúil na hÉireann (an tuiseal ginideach) é “Éirinn go Brách?”  Ní hea.  Sin “Fé Mhóid Bheith Saor.”  Is “Éirinn go Brách” the official motto of Ireland (the genitive case)?  Nope.  That’s “Sworn to be free.” (Bhí an-tionchar ag na Muimhnigh ar an saghas Gaeilge a bain an stát úsáid as – The Munster people had a lot of influence on the kind of Irish the state used).

Cad é mana Ord Ársa na hÉireann as Gaeilge?  What is the motto of the AOH  in Irish? Cairdeas, Aontas agus Carthanacht Chríostaí.