CRUMLIN as a townland takes its name from Cromghlinn meaning crooked glen. Historically, the area had a unionist majority but as a result of population growth and people moving to the town from Belfast and the sorrounding areas, it now has a nationalist majority. 
 
In addition to this, the area has a flourishing Irish language community with 93 children currently enrolled in the local Gaelscoil. The Irish language family centre, Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach, has outgrown the space which they had moved into just seven years ago.
 
Cíara Maguire, manager of Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach, explained: “We are a family centre and also a registered charity. In a way, we see ourselves as a mini-Cultúrlann in the heart of Crumlin.

 

CAIFÉ: The onsite coffee shop is a big hit with the local Irish speaking population
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CAIFÉ: The onsite coffee shop is a big hit with the local Irish speaking population


 

“We have good links with Gaelscoil Ghleann Darach and Naíscoil Ghleann Darach and we operate as an Irish language hub where Gaeilgeoirí can come and use our services through the medium of Irish.”
 
The Irish language community in the area has been thriving for almost 30 years.
 
“The latest revivalists that we are aware of came together 28 years ago when a group of people from the area came together and decided that they didn’t want to travel to Belfast to access Irish language classes. They then talked about having their own Naíscoil and Gaelscoil.
 
“Our local councillor Annemarie Logue and Donna McKenna founded the Naíscoil in the '90s. 
 
“Coiste Gaeloideachais Cromghlinn was formed in 2002 and they are our management board here at the centre. The building that we are in now and the Gaelscoil both opened in 2015. Before that we were in mobiles.
 
“We have a beautiful building here but we have outgrown it and are planning an extension which will allow us to grow the activities that we offer because as an Irish language community, we have grown rapidly in the last 10 years with people moving from the likes of West Belfast to the area.

ARTWORK: Murals throughout the centre chart the history of the Irish language revival
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ARTWORK: Murals throughout the centre chart the history of the Irish language revival


 

Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach offer a number of weekly activites for the local Irish speaking community including Irish language classes, yoga, Irish dancing, music lessons, a youth club and art classes.
 
“In addition to our activities, we also try to make our work relevant to what is going on at that time,” Cíara continued. 
 
“During Covid we had a scrubs project where we made scrubs for the health service, our pagan festivals for Lughnasa and Halloween are also quite popular and we also organised the first Pride celebrations and the first St Patrick’s Day parades in Crumlin.
 
“While we are an Irish language organisiation, we do lots of other things which just happen to be through Irish.”

COMMUNITY WORK: The on-site Totum Pole was designed as part of an anti-social behaviour intervention project
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COMMUNITY WORK: The on-site Totum Pole was designed as part of an anti-social behaviour intervention project


 

In addition to this work, Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach have links with the older population and run a series of history talks on topics such as placenames.
 
“There is a lot of history in this area in terms of archeology. We have been looking in detail at a secret tree which is located just outside Crumlin and that is of great interest. 
 
“We have also been looking at ogham stones which are located around the area and have been working with local historians on developing a project around that.”
 
In addition to this, Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach run an Irish language coffee shop that has proved a big hit with the local community.
 
“In 2019 we received a grant from Foras na Gaeilge to open our Irish language coffee shop. In March 2020 Covid hit and we had to close but we are thankful that within the last year it has really taken off.
 
“The café is another asset that we deliver through the Irish language and it is the only one in Antrim and Newtownabbey borough.
 
“Recently, we have also launched our own Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach artisan products including homemade jam and soaps which we make here in the centre,” she said.

ARTISAN: The centre sells a number of products that they make on site including jams and soaps
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ARTISAN: The centre sells a number of products that they make on site including jams and soaps


 

Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach have also been working with the local community to tackle problems with anti-social behaviour.
 
On that, Cíara added: “We received a number of access grants through Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to work with the youth through intervention and classes. Through that we have designed our totem pole, which again is the only one in the borough. 
 
“Myself and our development officer Roisin Nic Aibhistín have been involved in a peace programme in recent months to try and encourage other members of our community to embrace the language and we have gone to learn more about other cultures within our community.
 
“As a centre, we worked very closely with the Syrian community but sadly a lot of them have left Crumlin now and moved to Antrim.
 
“We have great relationships with the other community groups and from January we hope to build our own boat with the help of the Lough Neagh heritiage boating group.”

In addition to their indoor activiites, the centre received a grant from the Department for Communities which allowed them to build an outdoor stage area and host outdoor events during Covid.
 
“We have great relationships with the Naomh Séamas Gaelic Club, Crumlin United and the Crumlin and District Angling Association. Over the summer we had a great project with the Angling Association where we taught women and the youth the basics of angling.”
 
Looking at the issue of climate change and sustainabilty, the centre have been working with Crumlin Men’s Shed to build a polytunnel and hope that from next year, they will be able to grow their own vegetables. 
 
“We are hoping to get the kids from the Gaelscoil involved and encorporate it into their curriculium then have them up to maintain it,” she said.
 
For more information, visit Ionad Teaghlaigh Ghleann Darach’s Facebook page.