DUP Minister Gordon Lyons received a fáilte mhór on the Falls Road last night where the strong ties between the Presbyterian Church and the Irish language were celebrated at an event at the Cultúrlann.

The pioneering Irish language centre was a former Presbyterian Church, with its last service taking place in 1982.

The Dillon Gallery at the venue was filled to capacity with extra seats having to be brought in to accommodate the large crowd, many of whom were from the city's Presbyterian community who were in the building for the first time.

On display were Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaidhlig and Manx Bibles which were loaned for the evening by Alastair Bonar of the Free Presbyterian Church.

Speaking at the event John Duffy from the Colin Glen Christian Fellowship explained that the first Bible in Irish was published in the seminal year of 1690 and while Catholic schools were teaching in English in the 1830s Presbyterian schools were teaching in Irish.

Minister for Communities Gordon Lyons opened the evening and welcomed the large crowd with a "fáilte romhaibh", before being presented with a piece of art by Director of the Gaeltacht Quarter Jake Mac Siacais, who explained that the Cultúrlann had been reconnecting with its Presbyterian heritage in recent years.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News later, Minister Lyons said he was delighted to take up the invitation and looked forward to returning to the Cultúrlann.

John Duffy giving his talk with the original bell behind him from when the Cultúrlann was a Presbyterian Church

John Duffy giving his talk with the original bell behind him from when the Cultúrlann was a Presbyterian Church

"It was lovely to get such a warm reception here and it is very important for me to come along and see what’s happening in this building and hear a little bit about the history of it but also to hear a very interesting presentation on the history of the Irish language, the Bible and also Irish in Presbyterian worship which as a Presbyterian I have particular interest in.

"Although the Irish language would not have been a big part of my background and personal upbringing I’m well aware of the history of the Irish language within the Presbyterian Church and the connections that were there and which were obviously much stronger at times than they are now, so certainly I’m a Minister for the Department for Communities and I’m happy to take up all invites and I’m delighted to be here.

"It's my first time in this building and obviously there’s a very special history and heritage here. I certainly hope I’ll be invited back and I would certainly come back."