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Gaelscoil pupils in Cork take Mandarin Chinese lessons

October 3, 2016

A groundbreaking language programme launched yesterday in a Cork school will see Mandarin Chinese being taught formally to senior students.

Aimed at fifth and sixth- class pupils of Gaelscoil Pheig Sayers in Farranferris, on the city’s northside, it is the first formal Chinese language pilot programme of its kind in an Irish primary school.

A second Cork Gaelscoil, on the southside of the city, is expected to be included in the programme within a few weeks.

Spanish — the second- most spoken language in the world — is already being taught to its fifth- and sixth- class pupils.

The school’s board of management approached UCC — home to a Confucius Institute and an Irish Institute of Chinese Studies — to devise a Chinese language programme.

The course launched yesterday will be taught at the Gaelscoil over the next two years by up to 12 visiting Chinese students who are studying for their Masters degree in UCC.

The Gaelscoil children will be taught to speak a language used by more than 1bn people, plus some of the basics of the complex written language. They will each receive certificates at the end of the course.

“As a Gaelscoil we are great believers in languages and immersion education,” said school principal Adrian Breathnach.

“We made this decision as a board of management because Mandarin is now the number-one most spoken language in the world, with over 1bn people speaking it.

“Our Government has also recognised China as a strong emerging economy and greater trade links between the two countries have been forged.

“We see it as a language of the future.”

Mandarin Chinese grammar is considered relatively simple, with no verb conjugation and the tenses expressed by using time phrases such as ‘tomorrow, yesterday, in the future’.

There are also no gender- specific nouns and no need to distinguish between singular and plural nouns.

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Planning bid to be made for Fermoy school

February 4, 2015

A long-running battle for a new gaelscoil building in a North Cork town seems to be nearing an end.

A planning application will be lodged with the local authority shortly, it was claimed yesterday.

The Gaelscoil de hÍde New School Action Group welcomed reports a project manager had been appointed by the Department of Education to progress the architectural design of the 24-classroom school, to be built at Duntahane Rd, Fermoy.

The action group said it had been informed by department officials they will meet with Cork County Council before formal planning approval was sought.

Prior to the planned meeting, the school’s board of management is invited to the department’s offices in Tullamore, Co Offaly, to view plans before submission to the council.

Department officials have reportedly indicated construction should commence later this year with a scheduled opening in September 2016.

The proposed new school would include ample playground space, a communal hall and ancillary rooms.

“Once a formal planning application is lodged, the action group is hoping our locally elected councillors can monitor the process and assist with any potential delays,” spokeswoman Vivienne Dempsey said.

Currently, 410 pupils occupy a cramped former vocational school on MacCurtain St, in the centre of the town. The original school was designed to cater for half that number.

Almost 1,000 parents, teachers, pupils and friends have previously taken to the streets of Fermoy to highlight their plight. They were led by former All-Ireland winning Kerry footballer, Tomás Ó Sé, a teacher at the school.

The most recent protest saw Weddings By Franc owner Peter Kelly, who has children attending Gaelscoil de hÍde, use a snow machine to cover it to mimic the Dis-ney hit film Frozen in a reference to delays in building the new school.

In December 2011, funding was reportedly guaranteed for the project and initially the new building was to have opened last September.


Building to start on 51 schools

December 19, 2014

Construction should start on 51 school buildings next year as part of a €450m capital programme announced yesterday.

The projects are a mix of replacement facilities for existing schools and accommodation for start-up primary and second-level schools, as well as two new special schools in Carrigaline, Co Cork, and Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

The new Sonas facility is one of five new-build projects in the Cork town on a list of 70 major projects going to construction in 2015, published by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan. The others are three second-level schools and a new building for Gaelscoil Charraig Uí Leighinn.

A gaelscoil that has been the subject of local political controversy is also listed to move to construction, even though a planning application has yet to be lodged. A campaign group in Fermoy, Co Cork, has been targeting Minister of State Seán Sherlock about commitments for a new building for Gaelscoil de hÍde, which is scheduled by Ms O’Sullivan to proceed next year.

Its inclusion received a cautious welcome from principal at the 410-pupil school, Seán McGearrailt.

“We’re delighted to be finally on this list after a long campaign by parents, staff and management, but there’s still a long way to go. Hopefully it will happen next year, but the site has yet to be acquired, design work done and planning permission got,” he said.

The schools capital outlay for next year is €20m less than the €470m budget in 2014, although Ms O’Sullivan revealed last week that €35.5m targeted at large building projects was not spent due to a range of delays.

The 70 projects announced over a year ago to begin construction in 2014 included 22 primary and 12 second-level buildings. Planning appeals delayed 14 projects this year but three have been cleared and started construction, and another five are set to see work begin next year.

Under the 2015 programme, work should start on 44 new primary schools and five new builds at second-level, with 19 major extensions set to begin. Dublin projects make up 18 of those on the list, followed by Cork with 11, six in Galway, and three each in Clare, Louth, Meath and Wexford.

More than 40 major projects were completed or occupied during the past year, and the Department of Education expects almost 200 to be in progress during 2015, when those with work already started are added to those on the new list. Projects for future years will be assessed as 2015 progresses, to see if they are ready to go to construction and if there is financial scope to do so.

Irish Examiner

Tasty Gaelcholáiste Mhuire serve notice

October 16, 2014

Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG 2-14 St Colman’s College 0-7

A quarter-final place in this year’s Dr Harty Cup beckons for Gaelcholáiste Mhuire after an excellent performance against St Colman’s at Watergrasshill yesterday.

Clear leaders at the top of Group 2 after a second win in two matches, one more victory will almost certainly assure them of a place in the last eight. On this showing, they certainly won’t be fearing anybody in the knockout stages.

While they conceded the first two points of the game, once they got going they were difficult to live with. Dayne Ó Laoi finished with 2-4 for the Cork city side, all from play, but they had top-class performances in all areas.

Eadbhard Ó Conaing, who, like Ó Laoi, has played senior for Na Piarsaigh this year, was excellent in the full-back line while Adam Ó Donnabháin shone at left half-back, both in his primary duties and also instigating attacks.

Many of this AG team have featured in the last two Harty campaigns, which might euphemistically be referred to as character-building, but the experience is showing now. Just two of their scores were from placed balls and various players impressed in attack at different times.

Five of the starting forwards scored their first five points as Colman’s early momentum was halted and then, in the 15th minute, the lead was buttressed. Ó Donnbháin picked out Donal Ó Conaing with an arrowed pass and his scooped ball beyond the defence allowed Ó Laoi to pull beyond the onrushing goalkeeper Cathal Leahy, corner-back Daniel O’Regan unable to stop the shot going over the line.

While midfielder Pádraig Hannon and Leahy both nailed long-range frees for Colman’s immediately after, the AG finished the half strongly.

First, Evan Ó Síocháin profited from Daithí Braham’s good run to point before Donal Ó Conaing set up two, for Ó Laoi and then Braham. With a seven-point lead, 1-8 to 0-4, at half-time, Gaelcholáiste Mhuire were cruising and though a nice Brian Davis point got Colman’s off to a good second-half start, soon the AG were out of sight.

Braham’s free answered Davis’s effort and then Eadbhard Ó Conaing’s free from deep dropped invitingly for Ó Laoi. While Leahy repelled his first effort, the full-forward was able to poke home the rebound and with 10 points now separating the teams, that was that.

Scorers for Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG: D Ó Laoi 2-4, D Braham (two frees), D Ó Conaing (one free) 0-3 each, E Ó Síocháin, P de Faoite 0-2 each.

Scorers for St Colman’s College: P Hannon 0-4 (three frees, one 65), C Leahy (free), J O’Leary, B Davis 0-1 each.

GAELCHOLÁISTE MHUIRE AG: D Ó Conaill (Na Piarsaigh); E Ó Conaing (Na Piarsaigh), C Ó Súilleabháin (Na Piarsaigh), R Ó Meára (Na Piarsaigh); A Breathnach (Na Piarsaigh), B Ó Ceallacháin (Na Piarsaigh), A Ó Donnabháin (Glen Rovers); L Ó Cochláin (Glen Rovers), E Ó Laoire (Na Piarsaigh); C Ó hAinifín (Na Piarsaigh), P de Faoite (Glen Rovers), D Braham (Glen Rovers); D Ó Conaing (Na Piarsaigh), D Ó Laoi (Na Piarsaigh), E Ó Síocháin (Na Piarsaigh).

Subs: K Ó hEathairn (Na Piarsaigh) for Braham (49), A Ó Súilleabháin (Glen Rovers) for Ó Síocháin (53).

ST COLMAN’S COLLEGE: C Leahy (St Catherine’s); A Ricken (Watergrasshill), D Varnery (Castlelyons), D O’Regan (Kilworth); S Fenton (Castlelyons), S Walsh (Bride Rovers), N O’Leary (Castlelyons); S Aherne (Fermoy), P Hannon (Glanworth); J Saich (Kilworth), J O’Leary (Castlelyons), B Davis (St Catherine’s); D Linehan (Ballyhooly), S Condon (Glanworth), J Kenneally (Kilworth).

Subs: R Galvin (St Catherine’s) for O’Regan (22), K Cronin (Watergrasshill) for Fenton (half-time), C Donnellan (Kilworth) for Kenneally (40), O Hickey (Ballyduff) for Davis (49).

Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).

Irish Examiner

Works will let gaelcholáiste enrol three first-year classes

October 15, 2014

An all-Irish secondary school that turned down dozens of applications this year will enrol three first-year classes in 2015 after approval for a long-term expansion and building works.

The policy change at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire at the North Monastery last year, restricting new enrolments to just 59 students in two classes, caused controversy because of the number of applicants. It had enrolled three first-year classes each of the previous three years in response to demand, but concerns over space and accommodation prompted the trustees to limit numbers.

However, approval was received from the Department of Education last month for a project that would see its enrolment rise, from the 350 for which it was originally opened, to a maximum of 520.

The decision to revert to a three-class intake has been influenced by this approval, with discussion between management and department officials since then about the level of accommodation needs.

The revised enrolment policy says student numbers have risen from 354 to 451 since 2010, and that continuing demand for places is evidence of the excellent quality of education at the school. However, it also advises parents this high demand means it is still likely to be unable to offer places to all applicants next year.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Thomas Gould, spokesman for a campaign group set up to seek a return to the increased enrolment figures, welcomed the decision.

“Last year, the school received 112 applications for 58 places,” he said. “The increase in number of enrolment places for 2015 will reduce the number of disappointed children and families.”

Mr Gould thanked parents for fighting to bring about the change.

The school had tried to limit new entrants to two classes last year but the success of appeals to the department led to three classes being enrolled, before a firmer policy was put in place for the current school year.

Irish Examiner

Temporary home found for new Gaelcholáiste

September 24, 2014

A temporary home has been found for a new Gaelcholáiste before its pupils move into a three-school €19m campus in a Cork suburb.

The Cork Education and Training Board has announced that it has found a temporary premises for the new Gaelcholáiste in Carrigaline.

Cork ETB chief executive Ted Owens said that Waterpark House would act as the interim Gaelcholáiste building and will open to pupils next September.

He said enrolment was now taking place for 500 students and the Department of Education and Skills wants the new campus built by September 2016.

“The Department of Education and Skills has given the go-ahead for a lease on Waterpark House,” said Mr Owens. “This is an absolutely perfect building and location for our temporary Gaelcholáiste. We have put extensive work into finding a suitable location and I believe that this is perfect for our needs.”

Mr Owens said Cork ETB would hold a public meeting in Carrigaline Court Hotel on Monday, September 29, at 7.30pm to inform the local community of its new plans for the Gaelcholáiste.

Mr Owens also confirmed that the Department of Education had made a grant available to carry out the small remedial works necessary to make Waterpark House fit for purpose for the entry of first-year students in September 2015.

Cork ETB announced last June that it would build three new schools in Carrigaline by 2017.

The schools — which will include a Gael- scoil, Gael-choláiste and a SONAS junior primary school for autistic children — will accommodate more than 1,000 pupils when completed with a total investment of €19m.

Cork ETB will be patron of the second level Gaelcholáiste, which will be 4,800 square metres in size and will accommodate up to 500 pupils.

The building will include 24 general classrooms, as well as specialist accommodation and a state-of-the-art PE Hall. The consultants for the project are Cork architectural company, Kelly Barry O’Brien Whelan.

Irish Examiner

New gaelscoil a step closer

September 10, 2014

Building of a new gaelscoil in a north Cork town is a step closer after it was announced that a site had been identified and approval had been given to transfer the land to the Department of Education.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has approved the transfer of land at Duntahane, Fermoy, from the Housing Agency to the department, which is seen as a vital step towards building a new Gaelscoil de hÍde.

Last Friday, nearly 1,000 people took to the streets of the town to protest at the snail’s pace in building a replacement school for the current one which is archaic and totally overcrowded.

They finally lost patience after getting no news on a preferred site, despite the fact that the Department of Education had promised a new school back in 2011.

Minister Seán Sherlock said he had been in touch with Mr Kelly who had told him he had given his approval for the land transfer.

He said he was confident that the Department of Education would now move as quickly as possible.

“Bear in mind that site works have already taken place at Duntahane and that will be a factor in the speed of the next step of the process,” Mr Sherlock said.

School principal Seán MacGearailt said the news was welcome, although he would like to see a letter of confirmation sent to the board of management.

“We would now like to see the Department of Education fast-track this project. The department always said that the money was there for the new school. I would be hopeful that we will have a new building to go into by September 2015 at the latest. But sooner would be better,” he said.

There are 410 pupils enrolled in the school, almost twice what the capacity should be. Teachers and Sunday Game pundit Tomás Ó Sé, said conditions are so cramped that the animals at Fota Wildlife Park have more space than the pupils.

Cork County Council initially owned the land and had to transfer it to the Housing Agency before it could be transferred to the Department of Education.

Cllr Kevin O’Keeffe said claims that the council were slow to act on the transfer were wrong and that the local authority moved as quickly as it could.

Irish Examiner

Huge protest expected in Fermoy over lack of progress on new gaelscoil

September 5, 2014

A North Cork community will be out in force this morning to demand that the Government presses on with plans to provide a new facility for an overcrowded school in their town.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to march at 11.30am from the gates of Gaelscoil de hÍde, Fermoy, into the centre of the town in protest at the lack of progress developing a new primary school building.

Gaelscoil de hÍde principal, Seán Mac Gearailt, said that contrary to reports suggesting a breakthrough had been reached in the ongoing saga, the protest will still go ahead. Mr Mac Gearailt said that the last communication received by the school’s Board of Management from the Department of Education was a July letter saying a preferred site for the new school had been selected.

“The march is going ahead,” Mr Mac Gearailt confirmed. “The last we were told is that a preferred site had been selected. You cannot get planning permission on a preferred site.

“The bottom line is that, as far as we know, the Department of Education does not own a site in Fermoy for a new building for the Gaelscoil,” he said.

Mr Mac Gearailt said that while both local and national politicians “of all colours” have lobbied in support of a new building, there has been a lack in transparency in how the proposed new school development is progressing.

“We are being kept in the dark,” he said.

Meanwhile parents in Ballincollig are similarly fearful that new school facilities are required to cater for the hundreds of children from the area who are due to enter secondary school in the coming years.

A committee of parents from Gaelscoil Uí Riordáin primary school in Ballincollig has lodged a formal application with the Department of Education calling for the construction of a new, fully independent, 800-place, second-level gaelcholáiste in the town.

The campaign was launched following a public meeting in May at the gaelscoil, one of Ireland’s largest where pupil numbers will break the 600-barrier in September, to discuss the immediate lack of second level, all-Irish education places in the town.

The meeting was told that the boards of management of Choláiste Choilm and Gaelcholáiste Choilm adopted a new admissions policy earlier this year.

For the first time, pupils graduating from Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin this year are not guaranteed a place in Gaelcholáiste Choilm’s Aonad.

Irish Examiner

Protest may not go ahead after breakthrough in gaelscoil row

September 5, 2014

It was unclear last night if a planned protest by up to 1,000 people would go ahead in Co Cork following news that there had been a breakthrough in a long-running saga over the building of a gaelscoil.

Protesters were expected to walk through the streets of Fermoy on Friday morning to highlight concerns over the lack of movement on a promise to acquire a suitable new home for Gaelscoil de hÍde.

Junior minister Sean Sherlock said he had been informed that the proposed new site had been fenced off and contracts have been exchanged between Cork County Council and a voluntary housing agency that presently owns the site.

Once the council has acquired the land, it will be in a position to pass it to the Department of Education.

Earlier Mr Sherlock said that the protest, planned for 11.30am, shows great community spirit and he has told parents of children attending the school “to use as many levers as possible” to ensure a replacement is built.

Teachers, pupils and parents have lost patience following promises that they would have a new school this year.

The TD said that a suitable site has been identified, but that it “has to go through a process of conveyance” and this needs to be speeded up.

“I know, for a fact, that the Department of Education is ready to move on this site, but it can not do so until it has title.”

He said it was up to Cork County Council to acquire the site from a voluntary housing agency in order for the Department of Education to proceed.

Before the last local elections, he said he’d advised parents that a new site had been identified and reiterated this was indeed the case.

“I am satisfied that I have acted with integrity in this process, in ensuring that the school will have a future on a new greenfield site. We have come a long way in this process.

“I understand the need to protest, but it is important to state that had it not been for my intervention, and this Government’s clear commitment to delivering on other new school projects and extensions in the Fermoy area, that the people of Fermoy would still be waiting.”

The protest will be led by former Kerry football player Tomás Ó Sé, who is a teacher at Gaelscoil de hÍde.

Irish Examiner

Gaelcholáiste gets approval to expand

September 5, 2014

A Cork northside all-Irish secondary school which had to turn away dozens of pupils because of space restrictions this year has been approved to expand by the Department of Education.

Although it has yet to be decided if Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG at the North Monastery will revert to admitting three first-year classes again next year, the recognition of a need for extra classes could signal a move that would see the heavy demand for places being met from September 2015.

The management of the school were criticised by local parents and public representatives when the policy of enrolling between 85 and 89 students into three first-year classes between 2011 and 2013 was changed.

Only 59 students in two first-year classes started at the school last week after its manager Pat Keating decided last year that the building had reached capacity. The intake of 89 a year ago only went ahead because of the strength of appeals against initial refusals to enrol many applicants.

Discussions with the Department of Education over several months have now led to approval for the school to move to an increased enrolment. This move to 520 students would allow the gaelcholáiste enrol three classes of up to 90 boys and girls each year.

“This welcome news should help meet the demand for places for secondary education through Irish in the northside of Cork City,” said a statement by school owners, Edmund Rice Schools Trust.

Although the school was originally built for 350 pupils, the extra intake of recent years has seen numbers grow by 100 in four years to 454 this term, putting pressure on space.

Irish Examiner

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