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Ashbourne and Ratoath to get merged Gaelscoil

March 31, 2011

Ashbourne is to get a second Gaelscoil, and parents in Ratoath who were hoping to have their Irish school recognised by the Department of Education, are to merge this school with the new Ashbourne establishment.

The announcement that An Foras Pátrúnachta is to oversee the setting up of a new school in Ashbourne comes just weeks after an Educate Together school was earmarked for the town. Ashbourne already has a long-established Irish school, Gaelscoil na Cille. The new Gaelscoil and Gaelscoil Ráth Tó will merge to form an additional gaelscoil for the area which will be called Gaelscoil na Mí, according to Seán Ó Buachalla, of the board of management of the Ratoath school. Mr Ó Buachalla said that the board, the school’s supporters and all the Irish-language organisations involved in the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign were pleased that the Department had finally acknowledged the need for additional provision for Irish-language primary education in the area and hoped that this would lead to quicker recognition of new gaelscoileanna in the future. “The final location of the school has not been confirmed as of yet, but all those involved are committed to getting a choice location that will service both Ratoath and Ashbourne equally,” he said.

“The founders and local supporters of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó would like to express our deep appreciation to our patron body, Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge, and to all the Irish language organisations who provided us with invaluable support through the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign, both financially and in terms of lobbying the state on our behalf as well as to our first establishing teacher, Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin. Their support has helped a great deal to bring this solution about and we are delighted to have finally filled an educational gap in our area,” he added. Meath East Labour TD, Dominic Hannigan, said: “The opening of the new gaelscoil in September is welcome news but the Department of Education is still working on finding a suitable location. Among the options currently being considered are temporary classrooms in a local GAA club and a site on the Ratoath side of Ashbourne. I will be keeping up the pressure on the Minister for Education to tell me where Ashbourne’s new Gaelscoil will be located and when we can expect work to start.”

The Meath East TD is also keen to reassure parents that they will have a choice in what language their children are taught in.  “The Department maintains the opening of the Gaelscoil will free up enough places in local national schools to cater for the student demand in both languages,” said Deputy Hannigan. He recently published a report, ‘Education in Meath’ which revealed that, as one of Meath’s fastest-growing urban areas, Ashbourne has a significant problem with school capacity. Since 2005, there has been a 17 per cent increase in enrolments in Ashbourne primary schools. One primary school in Ashbourne had an over-subscription of some 60 applicants in September 2010. Parents interested in enrolling their children in Ashbourne’s new Gaelscoil should contact An Foras Pátrúnachta, on (01) 805 7740 or email eolas@foras.ie
Parents who wish to enrol children in Ashbourne’s new Educate Together school in opening 2012 should contact Marie Ronan on (086) 387 3994 or email her at ashbourneeducatetogether@gmail.com

The Meath Chronicle – John Donohoe

New Ratoath gaelscoil opens despite lack of official recognition

September 2, 2010

Gaelscoil Ráth Tó, the unofficial Irish-language primary school for Ratoath, opened its doors on Monday, without State recognition or funding from the Government. Ten new pupils started on Monday, with spaces still available for any prospective attendees.

Opening day comes two years after efforts first began to establish such a school in Ratoath, and a nationwide campaign began this spring by a number of Irish-language organisations to pressurise the Department of Education to recognise the school officially.
Establishing committee chairperson Anita Sheppard said: “The school will be funded purely by voluntary donations by Irish-language organisations both in Ireland and abroad, from various community supporters and from fundraising conducted by the school’s authorities and parents.”

She said the ultimate aim is to get State recognition as soon as possible and efforts continue to that end in the form of continuous lobbying of political and civil service representatives and also efforts to draw as much media attention to our cause as possible, locally, nationally and even internationally.”
“The Department of Education announced in late 2009 that a new school would be needed in Ratoath, based on demographic projections and those involved in lobbying for the Gaelscoil were confident that they would be recognised as the new school for Ratoath.

However, the Department changed this analysis in February 2010 and announced that no new school would be established in Ratoath in 2010, despite their earlier claims, something which was a deep disappointment to all involved in the campaign, especially to those wishing to send their child to the Gaelscoil in 2010.”
Gaelscoileanna are the fastest growing sector in Irish education today; however, no new gaelscoileanna have been given official recognition since 2008 and many involved in Irish-language education and promotion felt that the growth of Irish-language education was being hindered by the official authorities and that a stand had to be taken on the issue of the recognition of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó, not just as a local issue, but as a national one about official facilitating of Irish-language education.

Meath Chronicle – John Donohoe
01 Meán Fómhair 2010

Sports stars at Gaelscoil’s open evening

July 28, 2010

A packed room of parents and children from Ratoath were informed and entertained at last week’s open evening to publicise Gaelscoil Ráth Tó (Ratoath Gaelscoil) which will be opening for classes in Ratoath Community Centre on 30th August.
Sports personalities, boxer Bernard Dunne, Meath footballers Caoimhín King and Paddy O’Rourke with the Delaney Cup, and jockey Barry Geraghty, whose daughter will be attending the school in its first year, also attended the launch.

The presentation was to let all interested members of Ratoath’s community see the new classroom that has been set up for the first classes that will begin in just over a month’s time and also gave a chance to parents to meet the school’s new teacher, Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin, who has been working hard recently with the establishing committee, the parents’ committee and the Irish-language organisations involved in the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign, to equip the room being used and make the new classroom a reality.
Speaking on behalf of the establishing committee, Seán ” Buachalla expressed the committee’s delight that the night was such a success and so well-attended.

“We were very lucky to have some prominent sports stars there to show us their support and we are very grateful to them for giving their time for this cause,” he said.
“We would also like to express our thanks to all the parents involved in organising the night and to the Irish-language organisations who have been supporting the establishment of the school so far as part of the ‘Aitheantas’ campaign,” he added.
The ‘Aitheantas’ campaign (Irish for ‘Recognition’) is an umbrella campaign under which a number of Irish-language organisations are co-operating to help establish the school on an unofficial basis, in order to pressurise the Department of Education to recognise the school as soon as possible.

The organisations involved are Glór na nGael, Conradh na Gaeilge, Comhluadar and Foras Pátrúnachta na Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge.
“We are very happy with the huge interest and positive attitude of all those who attended the night and we look forward to the successful opening of the school within a few weeks. Since the school is being funded on a unofficial basis and receives no State funding, we welcome all donations, big and small, to aid its success.
Anyone wishing to donate to the school or simply to get more information about it can contact us at gaelscoilrathto@gmail.com or phone (087) 332 8650,” Mr ” Buachalla concluded.

Meath Chronicle – John Donohoe
28 Iúil 2010

First teacher appointed to new Gaelscoil Ráth Tó

June 10, 2010

The founding committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó said this week they are delighted with progress so far in setting up the school for the autumn.

This week alone, the school’s first teacher has been appointed and the school’s venue for the first year has also been finalised.

The new gaelscoil will be established in Ratoath this autumn despite not receiving recognition from the Department of Education. This has been accomplished with the support of a number of national Irish language organisations. A national campaign called ‘Aitheantas’ (Irish for ‘Recognition’) has now centred on getting the Ratoath school recognised, since no new gaelscoileanna have been given departmental recognition in the Republic since 2008, the founding committee said.

Speaking for the committee, Seán ó Buachalla said steady progress was being made in making the school a reality by the end of the summer. “We are very happy to welcome experienced teacher Tricia Ní Mhaolagáin on board as the first teacher in the school and we look forward to working with her to establish the best school possible for the children of Ratoath.

“Tricia has made clear her commitment to Irish language education and also to the challenge of establishing a new school and we are certain that she will help set the school up on a sound footing,” he said. “In addition to this positive news, we have finalised an agreement with Ratoath Community Centre to provide accommodation for the school for the academic year 2010-2011. “We are happy to be able to begin the school in such modern and comfortable surroundings and it will also help to give the school a position of prominence in the middle of the village, which should go a long way to raise awareness of the school’s existence,” he added. “We want to make it clear to the people of Ratoath that the school will be open for business and we give our thanks to all who have assisted us, especially to the parents and the Irish language organisations who are assisting us in numerous ways to established the school.”

Gaelscoil Ráth Tó will be opening on 30th August next. The school is still accepting registrations for 2010 and beyond. Contact gaelscoilrathto@gmail.com or phone (087) 332 8650 for further information.

Fundraising for the school continues and all donations and support will be gratefully received, as the school receives no Government funding and is completely reliant on voluntary contributions, the founding committee said.

Meath Chronicle
09 Meitheamh 2010

Gaelscoil Rath Tó supporters ‘gutted’ by Dept recognition ‘no’

June 1, 2010

A decision by the Department of Education and Science not to give recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which is due to open in September has left the establishing committee of the school, local parents and supporters “gutted”, a Dunshaughlin area county councillor has said.

A local committee had been established in Ratoath to push the project forward but there has been widespread disappointment that the Department has failed to issue recognition in time for September this year.
Cllr Regina Doherty told members of Meath County Council that there was a definite need for, and support for, the concept of a gaelscoil in Ratoath. Other Gaelscoileanna in Dunboyne, Dunshaughlin and Ashbourne had “completely overstretched” their capacity to take in any more pupils, she said.

Meath County Council passed a unanimous resolution at its May meeting “supporting and applauding the work of the establishing committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó and calls upon the Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills to immediately recognise Gaelscoil Ráth Tó which will be opening in September 2010”.

Cllr Doherty was supported at the council meeting by Cllrs Joe Bonner, Nick Killian, Maria Murphy and Jim Holloway. Cllr Killian said he fully supported the efforts of the team pressing for the new school in Ratoath. He said he felt the difficulty with the Department was a technical one and held out the prospect that Departmental recognition would come.

Cllr Murphy said that matters in regard to education would “have to change”.

She said: “Parents have to fight so hard to get education for their children. They are being knocked down at the first hurdle. It is a shame that the Department is not giving recognition and I would hope that it would change its mind by September.”

Cllr Holloway said the efforts by the community to provide a new school “represents one of the better things in this country when people get together to follow this worthy objective”.

Cllr Doherty said that Meath’s local representatives had sent out a very strong message to the Department by endorsing the motion that the wishes of parents should be heeded in the provision of education in Ratoath. “The Tanaiste and Minister for Education and Skills should act now to ensure that Irish-medium education is provided in Ratoath with the full support of her Department by granting recognition to Gaelscoil Ráth Tó,” she said.

Cllr Doherty said the proposed school had 135 students on its roll. There had been a review by the Department last year of the 43 locations around the country in line for gaelscoileanna. However, that number had been brought down to nine and it had now emerged that Ratoath was not among them.

“We thought we were going to have a school in September”, she said. “The money had been collected with the grest support of the whole community. To our deep dismay, we had word from the Department that the only criteria used in assessing the need for schools was demographic. We were told that we did not have enough children to justify the school. We were gutted,” she said.

Backers of the proposed new school are hopeful that the recognition will come by September next year but, in the meantime, they have been encouraged by a number of Gaelic organisations and gaelscoil authorities from other areas to go ahead with the project without Departmental approval.

At one public meeting in the Ratoath Inn, parents reached a consensus to proceed with the opening of the school in September this year without Departmental recognition. It is now planned to open the school in the local GAA centre next September.

Meath Chronicle – Paul Murphy
19 Bealtaine 2010

Parents to press ahead with Gaelscoil in Ratoath despite Department’s ‘no’

May 6, 2010

Jockeys Robbie Power, Barry Geraghty and Nina and Paul Carberry joined the parents and pupils of the planned new Irish primary school in Ratoath, for a launch at Fairyhouse Racecourse. The founding committee of Gaelscoil Ráth Tó has announced that it is to set up the school without Departmental recognition in September 2010.

Spokesperson Anita Sheppard said the group was being assisted in this endeavour by the parents and by a number of Irish language organisations which are also determined to see Gaelscoil Ráth Tó open. The organisations in question are An Foras Pátrúnachta, Glór na nGael, Comhluadar, Conradh na Gaeilge and Gaelscoileanna Teo. The collective campaign has been named Aitheantas (Irish for ‘recognition’).

It is anticipated that the school will take up residence in Ratoath GAA Centre on a temporary basis. “Despite the refusal of the Department of Education to recognise the school, even though new school provision is needed in Ratoath, we have decided to proceed with establishing the school on an unofficial basis with the generous support of the Irish language organisations mentioned,” Ms Sheppard said. “We aim to place heavy pressure on the Department to recognise this school. We are working with individuals in the Irish language organisations mentioned who have extensive professional experience in running Irish language schools and we are all confident of achieving the Department’s recognition,” she added.

“We have seen huge demand shown for this school in Ratoath, but the Department refuses to differentiate between new schools on the basis of the language of tuition in the school. This means that the Irish language rights of both parents and children are being disregarded and everyone involved in this campaign believes that this is a situation that cannot continue. Not only do we want to see Gaelscoil Ráth Tó recognised, but we wish to see the Department change their criteria for the recognition of new schools, which is currently stacked again new Irish language schools. The result of this is that no new Gaelscoil has been approved since 2008 and the Department have not indicated that this situation will change,”

Ms Sheppard went on. “This is as much a national issue as a local one for the Gaelscoileanna movement, which is one of the fastest-growing education sectors in Ireland. We would simply like to see a fairer approach by the Department regarding the setting up of schools that teach through the medium of the first language of the State, according to Article 8 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.”

The Meath Chronicle
5 Bealtaine 2010