Méid an Téacs

Coláiste Ailigh tops in Ulster

Meán Fómhair 1, 2014

Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny is the top school in Ulster, according to a survey in today’s Sunday Times.

The paper ranked Ireland’s top 400 secondary schools based on the percentage of students admitted to university in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Coláiste Ailigh ranked 15th nationally, up from 43rd last year, with 77.3% of students at going on to university and 90.3 % in third level education.

Donegal’s next top performer is also an Irish language school. Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada on Arranmore Island was ranked 52nd, up from 149th last year, with 65.9% of students going on to university.

Loreto Convent, Letterkenny, also made the top 100, at 75th place nationally, up from 79th last year, with 60.9% of students continuing their studies at university.

Donegal Democrat

Money allocated to Donegal childcare facilities

Iúil 17, 2014

The Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Dr. James Reilly, T.D. has informed Deputy Dinny McGinley that in excess of E200,000 has been allocated for the provision of childcare facilities in Co. Donegal.

Amongst those included are:

Creeslough Community Childcare Services Ltd.; Naíonra Ailt an Chorrain; Naíonra Kincasslagh; Naíonra Gortahork; Naíonraí Phadraigh Dobhair; Convoy Community Playgroup; Donegal Playgroup; Saimer Community Childcare; Spraoi le Chéile; Niall Mór Community Childcare Centre; CPI Community Childcare, Castlefin.

Deputy McGinley welcomed this allocation which will be of considerable help to those who are providing childcare facilities in the County.


Donegal well represented at Lá Mór na Gaeilge march in Dublin today

Feabhra 17, 2014

Donegal was well represented at the Lá Mór na Gaeilge march in Dublin today where it was reported that 10,000 took the streets.
Marchers gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square and marched to Dáil Éireann to demand their language rights and equality for the Irish language. Coordinated by Conradh na Gaeilge, Lá Mór na Gaeilge was acelebration of Irish for all the family and a massive march forlanguage rights, attracting both members of the Irish-speaking community as well as those with a love for Irish, and drawing crowds of thousands into the streets to show their support for the language.

Donnchadh Ó hAodha, President of Conradh na Gaeilge says: “Conradh na Gaeilge extends its deepest thanks to the thousands that took to the streets ofDublin to take a stand for language rights, and to show the Governments north and south just how much support the language enjoys among the general public this Saturday, despite the atrocious weather across the country this past week. “Every single one of the ten thousand people that attended Lá Mór na Gaeilge was happy and willing to take a stand for the Irish language, to take proactive action to ensure a future for our language. Supporters of Lá Mór na Gaeilge have now put it up to the Governments north and south – are they now willing to take the challenge to choose a future for Irish by acting immediately on our demands?” In keeping with the Dearg Le Fearg / Red With Rage theme for Lá Mór na Gaeilge, the crowd wore red clothes and waved red flags in a striking symbolic display of their anger and disillusionment with the lack of Government support for Irish on Saturday.

Julian de Spáinn, General Secretary of Conradh na Gaeilge says: “Gaeltacht and Irish-language communities north and south are not happy with either Government, as their basic human right to use their language is neither being supported nor legally protected sufficiently. The aim of Lá Mór na Gaeilge was to drive the Governments to recognise and appreciate the importance and the value of the Irish language for this country, as well as acknowledging the fact that the majority of people on this island have a love for the language, but Saturday’s march is just the beginning – we will continue to campaign our public representatives until we achieve fairness and equality for the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht communities throughout the island of Ireland.” Conradh na Gaeilge organised Lá Mór na Gaeilge following The Language Commissioner Seán Ó Cuirreáin’s announcement that he would be stepping down on 23 February 2014 as a result of the lack of support for the language rights of the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community from the Government in the south.

The campaign for human rights gained momentum with the publication of a report by The Council of Europe on 16 January 2014 which noted that the growth and promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont, and a lack of support for its use in the courts and in education. Based on the recommendations of An Coimisinéir Teanga and those voiced at public meetings across the country, below are the demands Conradh na Gaeilge agus the attendees of Lá Mór na Gaeilge are calling for to ensure language rights and equality for Irish:

The Gaeltacht community must be guaranteed State service through Irish, without condition or question, by the end of 2016;

State services must be made available in Irish to the Irish-speaking community at the same standard as they are provided in English;

A comprehensive rights-based Irish-language act must be enacted in the north;

The Official Languages Act 2003 must be strengthened in 2014;

The derogation of the status of Irish as an official language of the European Union must not be renewed after 1 January 2017; and The Irish-language and Gaeltacht community must be recognised as stakeholders in the implementation of The 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 – 2030 in the south and in the Irish-Language Strategy in the north.


Donegal campaign heading to Dublin for march

Feabhra 17, 2014

Hundreds of Donegal people are expected in Dublin this weekend for a march for equality for the Irish language.

Organisers of Lá Mór na Gaeilge expect at least 1,000 people from around the country to meet at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, at 2pm on Saturday for a march to government buildings.

“There’s a 20-year strategy for Irish which has been on the books for four years, but the government refuses to implement it,” said Danny Brown, editor of Goitse, an Irish-language newspaper in the west Donegal Gaeltacht that supports the march. He said the march also arose from the decision of Seán Ó Cuirreáin, language commissioner, to resign this month because of the lack of government support for Irish-language rights.

“What we’re saying is that people need to get out to voice their anger at the government’s inactivity at a very important time in the history of the Gaeltacht,” Danny said. He pointed to the comprehensive 2009 NUI Galway linguistic of the Gaeltacht that warned the future of the Gaeltacht was in jeopardy unless steps were taken. “If action isn’t taken now, or very, very soon, it’s dead, and it is not going to be brought back again,” Danny said.

For example, he said, just 1.6 per cent of civil servants in the Department of Education are Irish-speakers. “The message that’s going out to Irish speakers and people in the Gaeltacht is that it’s all very well for you to speak Irish among yourselves, but don’t ask to speak it to government bodies, because we’re not going to accommodate you,” he said. “That message has gone out from successive governments.”

The Donegal branch of the campaign, Dearg le Fearg, or “red with anger”, is asking people to wear red on the march as a way “of showing you’re not just celebrating your culture, which we all would be, but it’s also an angry message going out to government”.

Organisers also hope non-Irish speakers will take part. “There are thousands of people around the country who realise the value of the language even though they might not speak it themselves,” Danny said. They are also urging people to encourage friends and family in Dublin to come along as well.

For information on buses leaving Gaoth Dobhair, Na Rosa and Cloch Cheann Fhaola for the march, contact 0876740673.


Call for Irish language support

Eanáir 20, 2014

Growth and promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland is being blocked by hostile attitudes in Stormont and a lack of support for its use in the courts and in education, according to the Council of Europe.

European chiefs have warned authorities they may also be in breach of a charter of rights because of delays and attempts to block requests for bilingual street names. The review of minority languages in the UK said the Government has not been able to justify banning the use of Irish in the courts or allowing people to take citizenship tests through the language. The Council of Europe criticised attitudes to Irish in some official circles and what it said is the Stormont Assembly’s “persisting hostile climate”. Caral Ni Chuilin, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure who is responsible for overall promotion of the language, said she would bring in new legislation during the current Assembly term. “There is a large body of support for an Irish Language Act in the North,” she said. “As languages are now a devolved matter full legislation will require the agreement of the Executive and Assembly. I hope that all supporters of the Irish language will work together to convince the Executive, the Assembly and all our people of the merits of supporting an Irish Language Act.” Ms Ni Chuilin said her Liofa campaign to promote the language also showed the room for cross community support.

The report from the Council of Europe also looked at the standing of Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, and Ulster Scots which it said has improved even if it ” still remains absent from public life”. The review team hit out at a lack of political consensus in Northern Ireland on the language and the lack of a long-awaited Irish Language Act. In education it found many obs tacles hampering an adequate offering of Irish-medium pre-schools and it called for concrete steps to be taken to meet the growth in demand for primary education in Irish. It raised concerns that the Colaiste Feirste secondary school still suffers from lack of free school transport, despite having won a judicial review case against the Department of Education on the issue, and increased efforts are needed to overcome the shortage of teachers for specialist subjects in secondary education. It called for new measures to allow for simultaneous translation in the Assembly.

Overall the panel of experts from the Strasbourg-based Council – Europe’s leading human rights agency – found many difficulties persist in the development of Irish. It said work has been hampered by a lack of information from the authorities and t he UK Government was also criticised for late and incomplete responses to requests for information about the standing of Irish in Northern Ireland. In repsonse to issues on road signs, the Department of Regional Development said: “Early in 2012 the Minister for Regional Development (Danny Kennedy) decided not to pursue the matter and no further work has been undertaken since.”


New Coláiste Ailigh set for November opening

Meitheamh 14, 2013

The new Coláiste Ailigh, due to open on Nov. 7th, will not only offer students and staff first-class facilities, but will also address all the school’s needs on the same site for the first time.

As well as classrooms, the new school will include a library, outdoor teaching areas, an art room, rooms for woodwork and technical graphics, a music and drama room, science rooms, a special needs room, a computer suite, kitchenette, fitness centre, GAA and soccer pitches, basketball and tennis courts and a gymnasium that can also be used for school events.
The Irish-language secondary school has operated in a very compressed space since opening in 2000, said the school’s principal, Micheál Ó Giobúin. The new school, “is no more than the kids and staff deserve”, he said.
Coláiste Ailigh, housed in Sprackburn House and prefabs on Letterkenny’s High Road, now has 219 students and will have 245 next year. The new school was designed to anticipate growth and will accommodate 350 students. There is also space on the 8.5-acre Carnamuggagh site for the building to expand.
Mr. Ó Giobúin; Pádraig Walsh, contract manager for Bam Contractors; and Brian Moore, safety officer with Bam; toured the site recently with the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press, and Tonia Kiely, an English and French teacher at the coláiste.
One of the most striking aspects of the design is the way each room has access to natural light, through creative use of space, windows and skylights. Prior to construction, the site was also contoured so that the two-story building will not obstruct the views of those on the upper side of the school.
Construction began last November, and there were 60 Bam staff on site the day of the tour, though there are up to 120 at peak times. Mr. Walsh said Bam endeavours to employ mainly local contractors.
Currently, the school holds physical education classes at the Letterkenny Community Centre and also uses GAA facilities. They have held events at the Mount Errigal Hotel, An Grianán Theatre and the Regional Cultural Centre. Mr. Ó Giobúin said the school was grateful to them all for their assistance over the years.
While touring the building, Ms. Kiely saw the room that will be her classroom. “I think it’s amazing,” she said. “This year I’ve been teaching in a prefab, so it’s going to be very different.”
Mr. Ó Giobúin also wanted to thank the Donegal Vocational Education Committee for their support and credited the cooperation and professionalism of Bam throughout the process.
As the principal walked through the site, pointing out and identifying each of the different rooms, it was easy to imagine the school in a few months’ time, bustling with students, teachers and staff.
Ms. Kiely said the new building will enable the coláiste community “to feel much more connected as a school”.
“It’s going to be much better to have everything here,” Mr. Ó Giobúin said.


Seven years of success for Réalt Uladh competition

Eanáir 22, 2013

One of the most successful Irish language competitions for national school students will be held once again this year at the LYIT premises in Letterkenny.

There is no doubt that, once again, hundreds of pre-school and national school students will apply for the much sought after trophies and medals that the competition has now become synonymous with.

Now enjoying its seventh consecutive year, Réalt Uladh will take place on Saturday March 2 and to date there has seen a fantastic turn out of schools from all across Donegal, Derry, Antrim and Tyrone in these competitions.

“Without a doubt, our acknowledgement, sincere thanks and congratulations must go to all of the parents, teachers etc who help prepare the children and young people, so magnificently, for their competitions. They are enriching our culture, music and heritage, by keeping spoken Irish alive” said Caitlín Conluain, Stiúrthóir Réalt Uladh.

Réalt Uladh, consists of thirty competitions, which cover the full spectrum of, poetry recitation, reading, writing, drama and singing. The competitions are through the medium of Irish, which are open to children and young people, of all abilities (bun-ghrád and ard-ghrád), from pre-school to sixth class. The aims of Réalt Uladh are to provide children with the opportunity to improve their Irish, give them the confidence to speak Irish, to obtain fluency in our national language and to experience the diverse aspects of Irish culture.

A certificate will be awarded to each competitor, a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place medal in solo and duet competitions, a trophy will be awarded to group performance. The perpetual cup will be awarded to the best performer in each category. A perpetual cup will be awarded to the Teacher/Leader who has the most entries in any one class in any one competition. A perpetual cup will also be awarded to the School/Group that has the most entries in Réalt Uladh 2013.

Our heartfelt thanks go to all of the sponsor’s for helping to make Réalt Uladh such a tremendous success.

For further information or to download a Réalt Uladh 2013 Entry Form log on to: www.realtuladh.com or contact Caitlín at: caitlin.conluain@lyit.ie or at 087-3232326.

The closing date is Saturday 2 February 2013 for all entries including postal and e-mail entries.

Réalt Uladh Office will also be open on Friday 1 Feb. 2013 from 3.00-7.00 pm in the LYIT to take entries or queries. The entry fee is €3.00 per competition to be paid with the entry form. Cheques should be made payable to Réalt Uladh. For group entry fees, please check www.realtuladh.com No late entries will be accepted.

Everybody is welcome to attend and listen to the competitors.


Campaign for small schools to continue

Eanáir 15, 2013

Education campaigners in Donegal say department policies continue to threaten small schools, particularly minority faith and language schools, and said their protests will continue this year.

“There has been widespread debate about the consequences of last year’s budget with regard to small schools, and the result of the pupil-teacher ratio cuts in these schools,” said Father John Joe Duffy, Ballybofey curate and campaigner for small schools.

Father Duffy said the results of last year’s measures will be felt over the coming years, and fully realised in 2016-2017. He said the decision by Education Minister, Ruairi Quinn, TD, to reverse cuts last year to urban schools in the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (Deis) scheme but not to reverse the cuts for rural Deis schools, “clearly demonstrate a government who do not seem to understand that rural Ireland is suffering from social, educational and financial disadvantage, and the legacy of deprivation in rural towns and villages”.

Small Donegal schools have been particularly hard hit by government proposals to increase the number of pupils a national school must enrol to maintain staffing levels. The new staffing scheme takes effect over three years, with required enrolment increasing each year.

The past year has been “one of anxiety and worry and stress about the future of our schools,” schools campaigner and Church of Ireland Rev. John Deane said. “We’re worried about the pupil-teacher ratio being increased. We’re worried about the capitation moneys we get from the government that are being cut as well, and those two put together are very worrying for us.”

Church of Ireland schools are at the heart of local community and parish life, but the distances between them would make amalgamation impossible, Rev. Deane said. He used the Wood School in Ardara as an example, noting that the nearest minority-faith school to the north is in Dunfanaghy; the nearest to the south is in Dunkineely.

“It’s guaranteed in our constitution that minorities will be protected and looked after, but to me that is not happening at the moment,” Rev. Deane said. He said minority-faith schools have received significant capital investments but said there are a number of schools “coming very, very near the cut-off point” in terms of enrolment.

Rev. Deane added that minority-faith schools have also received great support from the Catholic community, and also credited the work of Father Duffy. “Don’t get me wrong,” Rev. Deane said. “We have the best of community relations here but we would like to be able to hold on to our own ethos and culture that we have in our small schools.”

Rev. Deane and Father Duffy were among Donegal’s most prominent campaigners for small schools last year, working together to highlight the impact of department decisions on small rural schools. “The most damning indictment of the government’s policy of severe cuts in pupil-teacher ratios was the severe consequence this had on Protestant and linguistic-minority schools,” Father Duffy said. He said the cuts will continue to have a much more severe effect “on the very future and survival of the schools”.

Though Father Duffy said he accepted Minister Quinn had not intended to disproportionately affect those schools, he said, “His actions, in many cases, will result in the closure of Protestant and minority linguistic schools”.

Father Duffy said Budget 2013 missed an opportunity “to show that we are a truly pluralistic society, that we are a truly inclusive country and that we are a democracy in which there is a place for minorities. “I believe now is the time for this government to show all the people on the island of Ireland, north and south, that we give equal rights and equal opportunities to all our children in our country, where class, creed and language ought to be treated equally,” he said.

Father Duffy and Rev. Deane addressed a protest against education cuts held in March of 2012 that drew up to 2,500 people to Letterkenny. They said the campaign will continue this year. “We’re looking to reinvigorate the protest we had,” Rev. Deane said. He said they have lobbied Donegal’s Oireachtas members, though results have been disappointing. “We’ve been promised nothing and we’ve certainly got nothing, to be honest with you,” he said.

Father Duffy said he had also been disappointed by the lack of political engagement and leadership on the issue in Donegal and nationally. “The issues are very much alive and require political leadership in order to solve them,” he said. “Therefore our campaign continues.”


Turning of sod for Coláiste Ailigh

Samhain 27, 2012

A new building for an all-Irish second level school which caters for 350 pupils in the heart of Letterkenny is due to be completed by 2014 under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

The turning of the sod ceremony for the new Coláiste Ailigh building took place at Knocknamona/Carnamuggagh, Letterkenny on Friday, last. Construction on the new school building will begin immediately on the 8.8 acre site.

Coláiste Ailigh was established in 2000. The school falls under the remit of County Donegal VEC and is currently located in temporary rented accommodation at High Road, Letterkenny.

The chairperson of the VEC, Martin Farren said that Coláiste Ailigh has gone from strength to strength in Letterkenny and that he envisaged the college to be a centre of excellence for Irish language education in Letterkenny.


Harkin hails EU loan for new Letterkenny school

Samhain 13, 2012

Independent MEP Marian Harkin today welcomed the European Investment Bank loan for the construction of the new Gaelcholáiste Ailigh in Letterkenny, describing it as a “marvellous example of European added value”.

The school will be built as part of a Public Private Partnership, using Irish state funds as well as the loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). Coláiste Ailigh will accommodate 350 pupils (mixed girls and boys) with general teaching spaces, specialist classrooms and workshops, as well as a sports hall and playing courts.

Harkin noted that “in a time of great fiscal difficulty, it is encouraging thatIrelandcan avail of these targeted EIB loans for worthwhile infrastructure projects such as this school. Maintaining investment in education is one of the single most important steps we as a nation can take to restoring our economy to full, vibrant health, and the EIB is providing much-needed EU ‘added value’ at the right time”.

She added that “as well as the value to Donegal’s education system, this project will provide employment for architects, engineers, contracts managers and quantity surveyors, and the contractor BAM will maintain the schools under a 25 year service contract”.


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