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CULTÚR agus CRAIC
Bredagh Cultural Dimension – building for the future
Bredagh GAC has been involved in Scór and Scór na nÓg over many years. For the benefit of the uninitiated, Scór is a division of the GAA which is charged with the promotion of cultural activities. Rule 4 of the official guide reads:
"The Association shall actively support the Irish Language, traditional Irish dancing, music, song, and other aspects of Irish culture. It shall foster an awareness of, and love for, the national ideals in the people of Ireland, and assist in promoting a community spirit through its clubs".
The concept of Scór was formally founded in 1969 and is promoted through various GAA clubs throughout Ireland (as well as some clubs outside of Ireland). Competitions (which take place during the winter months) are organised along similar lines to hurling and gaelic football championships, and pride in the club, parish, county and province is evident in all eight categories of the Scór competitions: Rince Fóirne (Céilí Dancing); Amhránaíocht Aonair (Solo Singing); Ceol Uirlise (Instrumental Music); Aithriseoirecht/Scealaíocht (Recitation/Storytelling); Bailéad Ghrúpa (Ballad Group); Nuachleas (Novelty Act); Rince Seit (Set Dancing); Tráth na gCeisteanna (Question Time). The competitions are divided into age categories Scór na bPáistí (or primary school Scór), Scór na nÓg (or Young/Junior Scór) for under-18s, and Scór Sinsear (Senior Scór) for adults. Participation in Scór encourages creativity, builds confidence and provides a platform for budding musicians, singers, dancers, actors and intellectuals, which can enhance the life chances and career opportunities for young people.
In the late 1980s, the Bredagh club enjoyed significant Scór
success with Billy McNulty winning the Down title in 1986 for recitation, and
an instrumental group led by Tom McGonigle won two County finals in 1987 and
1989. Gerry O’Donnell had earlier won the Ulster Scór na nÓg title playing the
tin whistle. The nineties and ‘the noughties’ were quieter compared to the
heady days of the late eighties; however, in recent times, there has been
considerable effort made to build on the proud traditions of the past, not just
in Scór and Scór na nÓg, but also in promoting the Irish Culture and language
more widely among the Bredagh club members.
Over the last five years, Bredagh has competed in the instrumental music, the ballad group, the recitation and the quiz sections of both the Scór Sinsear and Scór na nÓg. There has been a conscious effort made to ensure that the songs chosen have included a song in Irish, to give appropriate recognition to the language.
The club has most notably succeeded in Scór Sinsear. In 2010, Áine Brolly (singing in Irish) won the Down and Ulster Scór Sinsear titles and represented the club, the county and the province at All-Ireland level. In the final in Killarney, she lost by one mark to another singer who had been the runner-up the previous year. She has since been a fine cultural ambassador for Bredagh, singing at the GAA’s National Congress in the Slieve Donard and at the Ulster Football Final, the All-Ireland Football Quarter Final in Croke Park and at other high profile GAA events.
In the 2011 Scór Sinsear competition, the Bredagh Quiz Team composed of Frank Costello, Jack Devaney and Paul Doran followed the same path, winning the Down, and Ulster titles before being pipped at the post in the All-Ireland Final in Killarney.
However, while we are mighty proud of our Scór and Scór na nÓg successes, there is a visible sprouting of other cultural shoots in the club. One of these was the organisation of a bilingual storytelling session for children featuring Séan and Máire MacSeáin. Another was the coaches’ social evening in Rosario Youth Club at which a number of club members provided the entertainment in the form of traditional Irish music and singing. Bredagh has been building closer working relationships with An Droichead (The Bridge) the Irish Language Cultural Centre in Cooke Street, off the Ormeau Road. This award winning centre of excellence in the promotion of the Irish language is geographically close and is willing to promote stronger links with the club. For a number of years, An Droichead has worked with the club to organise an Irish language Mass on St Patrick’s Day with a teacht le chéile (coming together) afterwards for a cup of tea and traditional music. This has been very well supported by club members and the local community and feedback to date is that there is significant interest in continuing with this as an annual event.
In 2009, as part of the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the GAA, Bredagh held a Lá na gClub (Club Day) which lasted from Saturday evening right through until Sunday night. There was a Club Mass on the Saturday evening which featured young musicians and singers from the Bredagh club. This was followed by a disco for the younger members in Rosario Youth Club and a Folk Night in An Droichead. On the Sunday a very successful Family Activity Day was held in Cherryvale and on Sunday evening a lively and well-supported Céilí Mór (big céilí) was held in St Bernadette’s Hall.
In 2010, as an experiment, a series of eight Clann Bredagh family evenings were held in the Good Shepherd Centre on the Saturday evenings from January 2010 through to the beginning of March 2010. The evenings were geared towards whole families, but the activities particularly targeted children of primary school age and their parents. The programme for each evening included singing in Irish and English for the children, céilí dancing lessons for the children and a Ciorcal Comhrá (conversation circle) for parents who wanted to use their cúpla focail (few words).
Early in 2011, a Bredagh Cultural Committee was formed to strategically plan for the further development of cultural pursuits in the club. One of the first actions was to survey the club membership to establish what activities would be of most interest and the outcomes of this survey will inform the Cultural Strategy for the future. There is also a Cultúr agus Craic website under development, and plans are afoot for fun Irish language activities for children over the winter months. The key aim is to ensure that our younger members, in particular, become aware of the value of the Irish culture through fun activities. In these days of media-fuelled consumerism, there is a real danger that the art of entertaining each other through our own talents and creativity could be lost and that our young people could grow up without an awareness of the richness of the Irish language and the influence it has had on us and our environment. The music, the songs, the language and the games are written deep into our DNA, but the coca-cola culture is invasive, so we need to be proactive about preserving our rich cultural heritage.
Bredagh Trath na gCeist at Croke Park, March 2012
Clann Bredagh activities are open to everyone and are based on the values of self-help, inclusion and family involvement. Even if you have never had anything to do with any aspect of Irish culture before, you will be very welcome even just to dip your toe in the water. Like the GAA games, Irish culture provides fun for all the family so come along and join in! And as for the older members of the club, it’s never too late to pick up new skills, whether it is learning a tune on the tin whistle, a few steps of a set dance, or how to speak a few words in Irish. Whatever floats your boat in the Irish cultural creative space, there is something for you in the South Belfast area. We hope to build and capitalise on the existing activities in the area and contribute to local growth rather than start any activities which compete with any existing ones. We hope to provide for our members a better appreciation of the richness and depth of the Irish culture by promoting respect for all cultures, encouraging participation in our own, and taking part in cultural activities organised by the club and by partner organisations in the area.
And finally, by introducing your children to Irish music, language and dancing at a young age, you are opening a door for them which can provide untold development opportunities for them in the future. All that is needed, in this regard, is your encouragement, so remember;
Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí (praise youth and it will flourish)