Autumn 2021 sees the 30th anniversary of the founding of Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, a pioneering organisation in cultural and Irish language development in what has been one of the most socially and economically deprived areas of Belfast.
During the course of this two year project, running from 2020-22, we are researching and exploring the unique heritage and transformational history associated with An Chultúrlann in West Belfast, working specifically with the people who live and work nearby. We have crafted a programme of special events, including visual art and photographic exhibitions, lectures, educational and art activities for children, an interactive exhibition, an oral history project and concerts.
As well as being a centre for arts, culture, heritage and the Irish language, An Chultúrlann has acted as an incubator since 1991 for many successful organisations. Raidió Fáilte, Féile an Phobail, Aisling Ghéar, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Coláiste Feirste and Lá all began life within our walls and blossomed into thriving, independent organisations, inspiring, educating and employing people from all walks of life. This project looks at their impact, as well as the vision of our founders, who faced many struggles during what were very turbulent times in West Belfast.
Oral history is a key element of our celebration of thirty years of one of Belfast’s most successful community initiatives. We are capturing the memories of the visionaries, architects and drivers of An Chultúrlann, and are also reaching out to the original Presbyterian congregation who used to worship in the building in order to record their narratives, thus preserving their precious stories and our shared heritage for generations to come.
The team of An Chultúrlann would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their financial support in making this project happen. We also wish to thank our many volunteers, including past and present members of our Board of Trustees, who have given selflessly over the years. An Chultúrlann is bursting with life and creativity thanks to the artists, performers, audiences, teachers, students, business tenants, customers and other stakeholders from near and far, and to them we are very grateful for their continued support. We deeply appreciate the backing of other funders of our ongoing activities, namely Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Foras na Gaeilge, Ciste Infheistíochta na Gaeilge, Belfast City Council, the Department for Communities and Conradh na Gaeilge.