Aoife Ní Riain was an Irish language activist, musician and broadcaster with Raidió Fáilte who was instrumental in the establishment of Meánscoil Feirste and in the city’s Irish life.
The Irish of Belfast have been in the shadows since the death of Aoife Ní Riain last week. Aoife was an Irish language activist and musician who was instrumental in establishing the first Irish language secondary school in the city.
She was 61 years old.
Aoife Ní Riain, a native of Clontarf, was very active in the life of Irish culture in Belfast and was on the first committee of the founders of Meánscoil Feirste.
Aoife Ní Riain came to live in west Belfast in the early eighties after graduating in free arts and Celtic studies from University College Dublin.
She and Gearóid Ó Cairealláin raised three sons, Ainle, Cairbre and Naoise, with Irish in west Belfast and they were the first generation of students to receive an all-Irish post-primary education in the city.
Áine Nic Gearailt, manager of the Irish language bookshop ‘An Cheathrú Póilí’, said that the death of her friend, Aoife, was a “great loss” to the Irish language community.
“She was a musician, an Irish speaker and a very intelligent person, who ensured that she succeeded in raising her children through Irish and providing them with an all-Irish education. She read a lot, she was very interested in philosophy, life and rights. She is a wonderful person who would not put herself forward at all but have achieved a lot in her life. ”
Aoife Ní Riain was brought up with Irish and her parents were Irish language activists, musicians and educators who instilled in her daughter an interest in the language, traditional music, books and human rights.
AAoife’s mother Norita Ryan was a singer, and her father, Flann Ryan, was a famous cartoonist who created David Duck, a series of children ‘s cartoons in Irish broadcast on Teilifís Éireann during the 1960s. Flann Ó Riain spent a short time in prison in the seventies because he was unwilling to pay his television license while taking a stand against the lack of Irish language programming broadcast on the station.
The chAoife is an artisan and was very involved in the world of traditional music in Belfast. She loved Paddy Fahy and Ed Reavy ‘s tuned tunes.
Aoife was a broadcaster with Raidió Fáilte and a member of the part – time staff of the Irish language community radio station.
She mastered translation and spent years as a librarian working in Belfast Central Library, where she was an Irish language archivist, and in Falls Road Library.
Speaking to Tuairisc.ie, Fergus O’Hare, manager of Raidió Fáilte, said that Aoife was a “quiet and loyal backup” for the Irish language community in west Belfast who will be “deeply rebuked”.
“Aoife was involved in many campaigns for facilities, rights or recognition of the Irish language. She was a kind and considerate woman who was always available to lend a helping hand to the station’s volunteers.
“Aoife was also a talented musician who performed at various sessions in the city and at a weekly session held in Raidió Fáilte’s café, An Lon Dubh. Her listeners loved her talk and the wide range of music to be heard on the weekly program ‘Ar Seachrán le hAoife’. We will miss Aoife very much here on the radio but we will have fond memories of her, ”said Radio Fáilte Manager Fergus O’Hare.