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Dunne brings Irish campaign to Galway

April 10, 2012

Until recently, former WBA Super-Bantam Weight World Champion boxer Bernard Dunne was among the 98.2 per cent of Irish residents who do not speak Irish on a daily basis outside of an educational context.

When he defeated Ricardo Cordoba in 2009 to claim the world title, Dunne wanted to say a few words in Irish, but lacked the confidence to do so, having failed his Leaving Certificate Irish exam.

Showing the same tenacity and determination which marked his career in the ring, when he retired Dunne set about improving his grasp on the language, buying books and audio CDs and studying hard, so that he could raise his two children through Irish.

Two years later, the boxer was last week filming at the Spanish Arch for his new television show, Bród Club, where he encourages the people of Ireland to take pride in their language, and to take whatever Irish they have and “say it out loud”. In an accompanying web campaign, it is hoped that 100,000 people will commit to using what Irish they have every day.

“The aim of Bród Club is to encourage people to start using their language again and enjoy it. The one thing I’ve noticed since we’ve started the show is how much Irish is actually out there, how much people can actually say,” he said.

“I suppose there’s a fear out there of making mistakes, there’s a fear out there of using your language on the street, and that’s the aim now, is to get people out on the street saying hello, saying goodbye, saying thank-you, just simple things, as Gaeilge.”

Difficult though it may be for a boxer to admit, the former world champion acknowledges that he initially had “the fear” when it came to speaking Irish out loud.

“You’ve got to get to a stage where you’re going to say: ‘Look, I’m going to say it out loud. I’m going to say ‘Dia dhuit’ to somebody; I’m going to say cén chaoi a bhfuil tú?’ The more you use the more comfortable you get, and I’m at the stage now where I just want to have fun with the language, and I want other people to enjoy it as well,” he explained.

For someone who made his fame intimidating and fighting opponents, the Clondalkin man shows he is an approachable front man for the Bród campaign during his time in Galway. He welcomes all fans and well wishers alike, conversing in Irish with those who can, and gently cajoling cúpla focal from those who are more reticent about making a mistake in front of a sporting idol.

For Dunne, it’s all about “déanamh an iarracht”. “It’s just about making an effort. I try and just use it fun situations, and slag and play games with my kids,” he said.

During his visit to Galway last Thursday, Dunne also met with Laurence and Cécile Nichol from Renmore, who decided to enrol their daughter, Saoirse, in a Gaelscoil after being inspired by watching Bród Club.

“The fact that someone who didn’t speak it has now championed the cause has been an inspiration to me,” said Mr Nichol.

Mr Nichol’s wife, Cécile, is French, so the couple knew that Saoirse and their younger son, Thibault, would grow up speaking French, but although Laurence speaks some Irish, whether their daughter and son would ever speak it fluently was far from certain.

“I’ve had a chequered relationship with Irish myself, but I still have a grá for it,” said Mr Nichol.

Watching Bród Club got the Nichols debating about whether their children should grow up fluent in Irish, as well as English and French, and the fresh approach taken by Bród Club won them over.

“We were talking about it because of the Bród Club, and we just said, ‘let’s give it a try,’” said Mr Nichol.

Bernard Dunne’s six part television series Bród Club will next air on Monday 9 April at 7.30pm on RTÉ One.


Report to restrict gaelscoileanna

May 4, 2011

A group representing Irish-language schools has warned that the development of new gaelscoileanna could be hindered if proposals contained in a new report are introduced.

There are currently ten all-Irish primary schools in Galway City and County, in addition to nine all-Irish second level schools, and Gaelscoileanna Teo has argued that proposals contained in a recently published report by the Commission on School Accommodation could hinder the development of any new gaelscoileanna. Despite the current economic downturn, the total enrolment in primary schools around the country is predicted to grow by an additional 64,000 pupils to 569,600 by the year 2018. And as a result, the Department of Education is primarily focusing on building new schools in areas where the population is increasing. However, Gaelscoileanna Teo has argued that there is also a need for new all-Irish primary schools to have an opportunity to establish in areas of stable population where there is a demand for all-Irish education. “There still is high demand for such schools. We would be dealing with people on the ground in various areas around the country who are attempting to set up new schools at the moment and they’re coming across a lot of difficulties since the Department really are trying to set up schools only where the population is growing.

There’s a lot of difficulties regarding how you provide Irish medium education for people who are not in those areas,” said Acting Gaelscoileanna Teo CEO Nóra Ní Loingsigh. The new Department of Education report also proposes to conduct parental surveys to determine what kind of new schools should be built in areas of demographic growth, and Ms Ní Loingsigh has argued that if schools are established on that basis in the future, it will be difficult to establish an Irish-speaking school “as it is likely that only a minority will seek all-Irish education in preference to English-medium education”. Gaelscoileanna Teo has also dismissed a proposal contained in the new report to establish all-Irish units within existing all-English schools, suggesting that such units simply do not work. “Over the past ten years seven all-Irish units have closed at second level due to lack of support from the Department. In addition, it is hard for all-Irish units to create an Irish language ethos since they are surrounded by English,” said Ms Ní Loingsigh.

Gaelscoileanna Teo is now seeking a meeting with representatives from the Department of Education and gaelscoileanna patron An Foras Pátrúnachta, which has also objected to the Commission on School Accommodation’s report, to discuss the creation of a development plan for Irish medium education.

Galway Independent – Lorraine O’Hanlon

Good news for gaelscoil

August 12, 2010

Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh is to move to the next stage of its building plans, following a decision by the Department of Education. Galway West TD Noel Grealish and Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons have welcomed the decision by the department to approve Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh to move to the next planning stage, which includes planning permission, Fire Safety Certificate and Disability Access Certificate.

“I recently discussed the school’s plans at a meeting with An Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Science Mary Coughlan and I asked her to move the project forward as quickly as possible,” said Deputy Grealish.

“An Tanaiste has now informed me that she has given approval to the school to advance with their building plans,” he said, adding that this is good news for the parents, teachers and pupils of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.
Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons has also welcomed the decision.

“In September, this school will have 440 pupils and half of these will be housed in portacabins,” he said.
“This announcement means that the school can now proceed with their plans for eight new classrooms at the school, which will significantly improve facilities for teachers and children,” Cllr Lyons concluded.

Galway Independent
04 Iúil 2010

Spraoi an tSamhraidh

July 9, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Irish.

Deeply concerned about Colaiste na Coiribe move

July 2, 2010

A Chara,
I am a parent, a resident of Renmore and an enthusiast of the Irish language. I am deeply disappointed that there are plans afoot to relocate this school (Coláiste na Coiribe) to the western suburbs. The residential areas to the east of the city now feel completely abandoned by the educational system.

In Galway city, second level education has become increasingly polarised over the past five to six years. Middle class parents appear to be involved in a mad scramble to get their children into the schools that are the best performing schools, according to the league tables. League table success leads to more league table success, as the elite youngsters gravitate towards the top performing schools.

Colaiste na Coiribe has achieved success according to this (limited) measure. It is a selective school because of the demand for places.

Despite my misgivings about the management of the school, I admire what has been achieved with limited resources. I had planned to send my own children, as they are currently attending Gaelscoil Dara, here in Renmore. Colaiste na Coiribe is within walking distance of Renmore. I was bitterly disappointed to hear that the school is to be moved to the west of the city, not only for myself but also for the neighbourhoods in the east of the city.

The west of the city is extremely well serviced by secondary schools. Salthill has Salerno (girls), Dominican Convent (girls) and Colaiste Einne (co-ed with Irish stream). Also to the west of the city is St Mary’s College (boys). The Jes (co-ed with Irish stream) and St Joseph’s College are in the western section of the city centre. The Mercy Convent is in the city centre. Apart from Colaiste na Coiribe, the only school to the east of the city is Moneennageisha Community School.

It is true that Knocknacarra (the proposed new location for Colaiste na Coiribe) lacks a secondary school, but, at least, there are a variety of secondary schools within a radius of a mile and a half to two miles.

Knocknacarra is only eight miles from An Spideal, which has a co-ed lán ghaeilge secondary school and only eleven miles from Coláiste Cholmcille, Indreabhan, a co-ed vocational school.

In the current economic climate, I am asking politicians, both councillors and politicians, to take a fresh look at this crazy proposal. Children in the east of Galway city are as entitled to a choice of state schools as those in the west of the city.

A concerned parent

Letter to the Editor, Galway Independent

Long wait over for local schools

June 23, 2010

A local Irish-speaking secondary school has finally been granted a new premises, after a gruelling ten-year campaign by parents and local representatives.

The long-running campaign has now finally born fruit, with confirmation that a new premises will be provided for Colaiste na Coiribe under the Department of Education’s Capital Programme for 2010.
Students at the school are currently forced to take classes in prefabs, due to chronic overcrowding. However, it has now been confirmed that it is to move from its current location to a new home in Knocknacarra by 2013.
The news has been welcomed by Senator Niall O Brolchain, who has worked with Deputy Noel Grealish and a number of local representatives to put an end to the almost ten-year wait for a new school.

“This project will be great for Galway City and great for my local area, where there is a huge deficit in local facilities. I will continue to work with all those involved in the project at a local and national level to ensure that everything goes according to plan,” he said.
There was also good news for Scoil Iognaid Secondary School, with the announcement that contracts for the extension and refurbishment of the school are to be drawn up this week. The plans are to be drawn up by the preferred bidder, which is believed to be a local construction company.

“A refurbishment will be carried out on 3,000 square metres in the existing school and a 2,400 square metre extension will also be added to the school,” said Deputy Frank Fahey, confirming the news.
“This project first went out to tender in 2006 and there was naturally a lot of disappointment when it went out to tender again, but I can confirm that this resulted in a saving of 30 per cent and, at times when the public finances are limited, this kind of prudent management of resources is vital.
“Value for money has been achieved in the project and now the school will soon have the much-needed works completed. Credit is due to the school principal, Bernie O’Connell, who has pursued the project over the last number of years.”

Galway Independent – Marie Madden
23 Meitheamh 2010