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The history of Rith

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Rith 2010 – The inaugural Rith festival

Rith 2010 was launched as a new national festival in Ireland in March 2010, to promote the speaking and general use of the Irish language. The festival aimed to promote, support and increase the use of Irish. Lots of different people and groups look part in the Rith, including Gaeltacht communities, primary and secondary school students, third level college students, Gaelscoileanna, sports clubs, youth clubs, athletes and those interested in running, Irish language groups, speakers and supporters of the Irish language and many others. More than 20,000 people took place in Rith 2010! The concept of the Rith festival came from the Basque County and from Brittany, where similar language festival, the “Korrika” and “Ar Rededag”, are celebrated to promote their respective minority languages.During Rith 2010, thousand of runners carried a special baton, running in relay-race format, starting in Béal Feirste (Belfast) and travelling through more than 250 towns, villages and cities. At the closing cermoney on St. Patrick’s Day, the Coimisinéir Teanga (the Irish Language commissioner), Seán Ó Cuirreáin, officially brough the Rith to an end, by reading the message from the baton,  a message of support from Uachtarán na hÉireann, The President of Ireland, Mary McAleese.

Rith has since been held in 2012, 2014 and 2016. On each occasion the event followed a different route and runners carried a baton containing a message from the President, Michael D. Higgins. An estimated 30,000 runners took part in these two events.

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