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Is feidir linn, say tiny gaelscoil’s pupils

May 30, 2011

ONE of the country’s smallest primary schools is invoking the message of US President Barack Obama about national identity to make the case for its survival.

Just seven pupils, all girls, attend the 100-year-old Scoil Mhin na Manrach, in the Rosses Gaeltacht in West Donegal.

The decline in enrolment will result in the school, which once boasted numbers in excess of 100, losing one of its two teachers at the end of this school year.

This will edge it ever closer to permanent closure against a backdrop of an ongoing value-for-money review of small primary schools by the Department of Education and Science.

But parents, principal and board of management at the tiny school in the Derryveagh mountains argue passionately that the estimated €30,000 savings from the closures of such schools was nothing compared to the loss it would represent to the Gaeltacht community.

“It is a small school and I can see that people are trying to save money. But Barack Obama when he was here spoke about our identity and looking after our heritage and not forgetting it,” said parish priest and chairman of the board of management Nigel O Gallachoir.

“This school is one of the jewels of the Rosses Parish. It is unique in the sense that it is 100pc ‘as Gaeilge’. The teaching is wonderful. The children are literally getting a one-to-one education.

“They have all the technology they could want and yet it still is immersed in the old tradition.
“It would be awful to lose that link,” he said.

He added that rather than lose such a resource, the department should consider providing transport from other areas where classes are overcrowded. The McCarthy recommendation for the amalgamation of the 600 or so schools with enrolment of 50 pupils or less has prompted the review.

But Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has emphasised that the study is simply about ascertaining the facts and no policy decision has been taken.

Irish Independent – Declan Doherty