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First Gaelscoil begins new term

September 17, 2012

PUPILS were delighted to spend their first days at their new school in Cookstown this week – as Gaelscoil Eoghain opened its doors for its first school term.

The school, on the site of the former Phoenix Integrated Primary School, opened this month, three years after the Naiscoil – an Irish language nursery – came to the town.

Since then the Naiscoil has gone from strength to strength, and paved the way for the Rang a hAon (Primary One) class to continue their education in Irish. Pupils were said to be excited to begin their new term close to where they had received their nursery education.

Speaking to the Mail about the school previously Board Chairman Niall Devlin said the school had been hoping to build on the success of the nursery. “This is an excellent opportunity for parents to give their children an additional skill and it is great to see the parents of the Cookstown area embrace this.” A growing awareness of Irish medium education in Northern Ireland, coupled with the school’s excellent teaching reputation are two factors said to have contributed to its growing numbers. And just last week parents, friends and other family members of those attending the school, as well as local councillors and Irish language enthusiasts, attende the Gaelscoil’s launch night in the Glenavon House Hotel.

For further information on the school contact Emma on 07751119595 or email gaelscoileoghain@yahoo.ie


Live in the Cookstown area and want to learn Irish? Now has never been a better time to start.

September 5, 2012

A range of beginner, intermediate and advanced classses are set to become available as part of the Liofa initiative.

Josephine McCaughey, local Irish Language Development officer explains: “As September approaches, it is time to start thinking about availing of the many opportunities to learn Irish that will be out there from mid-September on in the Cookstown and Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council areas.”

Three levels of classes are set to be offered to those living within the Cookstown and Dungannon council areas; beginners, intermediate and advanced, so that learners can learn at a pace that suits them.

The numbers of locations in which classes are being made available is constantly increasing as more and more community groups are continuing to come forward to have classses organised in their community.

The Irish Language Development Officer is very much excited at this and wants to make other groups aware that the Councils can advise and help facilitate groups to develop Irish Language activity.

Details of upcoming classes and their locations will follow in local press and on web over the coming weeks.

Josephine continued: “The beginners classes are aimed at absolute or complete beginners so you have no need to worry about not knowing any Irish, you will meet plenty of other people in the same situation and you will all be amazed at the fun and life-enrichment you have been missing out on! You will also be amazed at the amount of wee words of Irish you already use without being consciously aware of it! “

Some people may want to brush up on the Irish Language skills they acquired at school or night classes and they too, may like to attend a beginner’s class if they want to be comfortable, or even an intermediate class if they want to be challenged.

It really is down to the individual and it is important that the level is right for the individual so that they feel either comfortable or comfortably challenged.

At all three levels emphasis will be placed on confidence building, practical use of language, repetition and practise and this is often most needed at the Intermediate level.

Intermediate or improvers classes are ideally suitable for those who have achieved good results in Irish at school in GCSE or A Level and who have kept up with the language through watching TG4, listening to Raidió na Gaeltachta or for those who, through night classes, are able to hold a short conversation in Irish but may struggle to hold a lengthy conversation owing to lack of practise. Advanced classes are generally for those who are in regular contact with the language who socialise through the medium of Irish and who can speak at length in the Irish language but may need a little help with accuracy and use of proverb and idiomatic language in speaking and writing.

University of Ulster’s part-time Irish Language Diploma is unique in that it is ideally suited for both those who want to be comfortable (as the course is delivered in a methodical step-by-step approach) and simultaneously, for those who want to be challenged (as the pace is quite fast and accreditation is offered).

As a result of the Líofa campaign work is ongoing to establish an Irish Language Diploma programme in Cookstown in 2012/13 as it offers a fast-track to fluency.

The part-time Diploma programme offers flexibility as it is recognised that many of those wishing to be fluent by 2015 are learning the language in their spare time. Dr Malachy Ó Neill explains “This course is perfect for those who already have cúpla focal and who strive to; speak fluently, listen effectively, read confidently and write accurately.” Successful Diploma graduates may enter Year 2 of part-time degree course or Year 1 of full time degree course. For more information contact Malachy Ó Néill via email at gaeilge@ulster.ac.uk

Mar fhocal scoir, finally, It is well worth checking out the Oideas Gael website at www.Oideas-Gael.com as it could be very motivating to know that after attending classes in beautiful Tyrone during the Autumn/Winterof 2012/13 that there are language and cultural holidays to be explored and enjoyed in the beautiful Donegal in the Spring/Summer of 2013!


Irish medium primary school opens its doors in Cookstown

July 17, 2012

Gaelscoil Eoghain, the new Irish Medium Primary School in Cookstown, will open its doors for the first time on Monday, September 3.

Acting principal Caitríona Uí Dhoibhlin said this is a significant day for those who have an interest in the Irish language, culture and heritage and for those who appreciate children being given special opportunities in education. She said it will be a momentous occasion for the group of four-year-olds who will become the first pupils of Gaelscoil Eoghain.

In May this year, the Education Minister John O’Dowd approved a development proposal to establish Gaelscoil Eoghain and it is hoped it will build on the foundations created by Naíscoil Eoghain, the Irish Medium pre-school which opened in 2008 and is currently providing pre-school education to over 40 children from Cookstown and the surrounding area.

The new premises at Chapel Street, Cookstown, will be funded by the Department of Education and will be completed in August.

Principal Caitríona Uí Dhoibhlin, an experienced teacher of Key Stage 1, joins the school on secondment from Gaelscoil Uí Néill in Coalisland and will have the benefit of guidance and support from Conor McPhillips, the principal of Gaelscoil Uí Néill.

“I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be the first teacher at Gaelscoil Eoghain and to provide local children with bilingual education,” said Caitríona.

She explained that the children in Gaelscoil Eoghain will have the opportunity to avail of their primary education with the benefits of bilingualism.

“They will follow the same curriculum as their peers in local primary schools, with the additional advantage of being taught through the medium of Irish. The ability to be bilingual and biliterate will ultimately give the children greater employment opportunities,” she said.

The principal pointed out that there will be parents in Cookstown unsure as to whether they can send their children to an Irish school if they don’t speak the language themselves.

“Dr Malachy Ó Néill, Head of the School of Irish Language and Literature in the University of Ulster and member of the Board of Governors of Gaelscoil Eoghain, said 95 per cent of parents whose children attend Irish medium schools have little or no Irish – and there are currently 36,000 pupils being educated in Irish medium schools throughout Ireland. Gaelscoil Eoghain will enable pupils to develop confidence and fluency in both English and Irish simultaneously,” said Ms Uí Dhoibhlin.

Parents too have welcomed this new primary school, with one parent, Laura Coey expressing her delight at her son having the chance to become bilingual.

“I’m delighted my son, Rian, has the opportunity to be in the very first class of Gaelscoil Eoghain. Before deciding to send Rian, I researched bilingualism at great lengths, which confirmed the many benefits of learning a second language at an early age,” she said.

“It’s also exciting to be involved as a parent – we have so much input into decisions about the running of the school, including opening time, lunch break, uniform colour, etc.”

The principal pointed out that with the class sizes smaller than most local schools, she will have significantly more time to devote to each child.

“Ultimately the quality of education the children receive is paramount and I am convinced all of our parents will be delighted with the choice they have made,” she added.

In recent years Mid-Ulster has experienced significant growth in Irish medium education.

Gaelscoil Uí Néill in Coalisland is now the largest Gaelscoil outside of Belfast, Gaelscoil Aodh Ruadh in Dungannon opened in 2011 and has doubled its intake in a year, and
St Joseph’s Grammar, Donaghmore, opened an Irish Medium stream in 2010, accepting children from local Irish Medium primary schools without the need to sit a transfer test.

Anyone requiring further information can contact the principal at gaelscoileoghain@yahoo.ie or 07739 006398.


‘Childish political point scoring’ – SF hit back at Overend Irish school remarks

May 28, 2012

COOKSTOWN Sinn Féin Councillor Ciarán McElhone has hit out at Ulster Unionist Assembly Member Sandra Overend regarding her recent comments about Gaelscoil Eoghain, Cookstown’s soon-to-be opened Irish medium primary school.

Last week the UPP MLA lambasted the Education Minister’s decision to award grant-aided status to the new primary school, which will open its doors in September. Reacting negatively to the decision Mrs Overend said she “cannot accept” the need for the Irish language school in the town and accused Minister John O’Dowd of wasting resources.

Responding to the MLA’s statement, councillor McElhone described Mrs Overend’s comments as “childish political point scoring”.

“I believe that the statement from Ms Overend demonstrates a great misunderstanding about Irish medium education on her part and is extremely disingenuous to the parents and committee members of Naíscoil Eoghain who have worked tirelessly over the past number of years.

“Within department guidelines an application for grant aided status can be awarded once it can be demonstrated that such a project can proceed successfully.

“It is not merely an agenda to promote the Irish language as Ms Overend states,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.

“Regarding her statement that she cannot accept the need for such a facility in Cookstown demonstrates her own lack of knowledge on this issue.

“Irish medium education is the fastest growing sector within her own constituency which includes Cookstown. In Cookstown Naíscoil Eoghain has experienced significant growth year on year since its opening in 2008”.

Councillor McElhone continued: “Ms Overend has also deliberately tried to confuse two separate issues and try to interlink them as the same to justify her position however the Department of Education has stated that it has a duty to provide Irish medium education once the criteria has been met. It is not a matter of taking money out of other budgets as she suggests”.

“Ms Overend has also stated that people should learn Irish in existing facilities and while I agree with much of this I must highlight that such provision only exists in an adult sphere. This doesn’t account for children who are being taught in this medium hence the need for this proposal”.

“I believe Ms Overend’s comments are an attempt to politicise a proposal that is being offered for the benefit of all in our community regardless of class, colour or creed,” he said.

“Ms. Overend should focus on the more pressing day to day issues that affect Mid Ulster rather than involving herself in childish political point scoring”.