The McCracken Summer School (known in Gaelic as Scoil Samhraidh Mhic Reachtain) is Belfast's largest programme of Irish language classes and events. In 2012 it celebrates its 13th year with events that cater for Gaelic speakers of all ages.
More than 2,000 people will take part in this year’s Scoil Samhraidh from Monday July 23 to Friday July 27. For each of the five days of the festival, 500 people will take part in Irish classes for complete beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Young people are a vital part of Scoil Samhraidh with classes for English primary school children, an Irish language summer camp for teenagers and arts and drama workshops for children from Irish schools.
The summer school was launched at the new MAC in Belfast, with Roisin McDonagh, chief executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland remarking that 'it’s important that everyone should have the opportunity to be part of this'.
'The McCracken Scoil Samhraidh goes to great lengths to encourage people from all backgrounds to come together to enjoy shared arts and cultural experiences,' added McDonagh, 'and this is making a real contribution to bringing the local communities closer together.'
From its beginnings in 1999 the McCracken Scoil Samhraidh has gained a worldwide reputation amongst Irish language enthusiasts as an event not be missed. The Scoil Samhraidh plays a vital part in building cross-community relationships in north Belfast and further afield, working in co-operation with the 174 Trust and other local community organisations.
Scoil Samhraidh continues to develop its international reputation this year, with a host of musicians from Ireland and Scotland coming together for a series of concerts. Alongside language classes there will also be dance and song workshops with some of the best known artists in Ireland.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival will come when Donal Lunny and Mairtin O’Connor play a special one-off Gael sa Gaol gig in the former Crumlin Road prison.
'When Scoil Samhraidh told us they wanted to use Crumlin Road Gaol for a gig to promote everything that is positive about our respective cultures we just couldn’t say no,' admitted Planxty and Moving Hearts founder, Lunny.
For more information on how to book places on classes or for the final concert, contact Ray Giffen - Oifigeach Forbartha on 028 9074 9688