Méid an Téacs

Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest

Feabhra 28, 2014

Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest celebrates the language that St Patrick had to learn to make himself understood to the Gaels and gives the green light to events organized in the Mid-Ulster area for Ireland’s national day.

There will be opportunities throughout Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest for anyone with no knowledge of the language to become familiar with basic phrases and structures.

Anyone who is free at lunch-time on Wednesdays can call into Ranfurly House in Dungannon, where a series of talks introducing the Irish language will be held over the fortnight. Irish language officer, Séamus mac Giolla Phádraig will give the introductory talks about the language to try to explain why we speak the way we do.

The children haven’t been forgotten. Seal Spraoi children’s clubs in Cookstown, Dungannon and Coalisland provide Irish language after-schools activities and there will be an emphasis on song, music and dance over the fortnight during and after school hours. A special storytime Seal Spraoi will be held in Cookstown’s Burnavon Centre on Friday 7 March from 4.30pm until 6.00pm with Gearóidín Bhreathnach. The Burnavon will also host a family céilí in on Sunday, 9 March between 2pm and 4pm, with music by Raymond Loney.

Gearóidín Bhreathnach, twice winner of Corn Uí Riada, the ultimate prize in Irish sean-nós singing, will be in the Square Box Theatre on Friday night, 7 March. Gearóidín has a clear, easy singing style. She explains the events behind the songs she sings and puts them in context by telling something of the lives of those who composed them.

Regular Irish language events, such as the Ciorcal Comhrá conversation club, on the first Saturday of the month and Léigh Leat reading club are held in conjunction with Dungannon Library. These and their counterparts in Cookstown will be making special efforts to welcome people who would like to try out Irish words and phrases they know. Details are available at www.guthonline.org.

A fund-raising relay run the length of Ireland, called Rith 2014, will arrive in Dungannon from Cookstown on Thursday afternoon, 13 March before making its way to Coalisland. Runners will have completed the relay from Strabane to Cookstown the night before. Rith 2014 provides clubs with the means to raise funds for their own small Irish language projects. Groups can ‘buy’ a kilometre and find details of the route at www.rith.ie.

Throughout the month of March, Dungannon Library will host an exhibition which has Irish writing systems as its theme. Examples of Ogham, the manuscript tradition, the invention of the printing press and modern computer fonts will be presented and discussed.

Dr Malachy Ó Néill will give a talk on the Ó Néill kingship on Thursday night, 13 March at 8.30pm in the Square Box Theatre. Dr Ó Néill examines Irish language sources for the O’Neill family story, reflecting the events which preceded the coming of Patrick to Ireland right up to and beyond the Plantation of Ulster, a period of some twelve hundred years. Máirín Hurndall will bring the official Seachtain na Gaeilge-Gaelfest celebrations to a conclusion with a talk the following evening at 8.00pm in the Burnavon Theatre, Cookstown, about the Gaelic Heritage of Protestants.


Celebration of Irish language in Cookstown and Dungannon

Feabhra 25, 2014

The countdown is on to a major Irish language festival in Cookstown and Dungannon.

With only a few weeks left until this year’s St. Patrick’s Day holidaysthe preparations are well underway for this year’s Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest Irish Language festival which takes place in the Cookstown and Dungannon Council areas throughout March. The festival celebrates the Irish language and encourages people to come along to a wide variety of events, talks and workshops available, whatever their level of spoken or written Irish. In Cookstown, a special Seal Spraoi (literally translated as ‘a spell of fun’) event on Friday, March 7 from 4.30pm – 6pm at the Burnavon will give local primary school children, whether they know any Irish or not, an opportunity to join in the celebrations.

Gearóidín Bhreathnach, a prizewinning singer and storyteller, will lead the workshop which is packed full of singing, stories and activities. Admission is from £2 per child and can be booked through the Burnavon Box Office on 028 8676 9949. Raymond Loney will continue the weekend celebrations as he provides the music for the Family Céilí on Sunday, March 9 from 2pm – 4pm. Here, children will be able to draw on the skills they learned during the week at the céilí dancing workshops also happening in the Burnavon. Admission is £2 per person and can either be booked in advance through the Burnavon Box Office or paid on the door on arrival. As well as plenty of arts and cultural activities this year Gaelfest will incorporate Rith 2014, a fund-raising relay run the length of Ireland. It will be passing through Cookstown on the evening of Wednesday, March 12.

Rith 2014 provides the means to raise funds for their own Irish language projects as well as establishing a central fund for sporting clubs who take part in Rith 2014. More information can be found at www.rith.ie. Regular Irish language events, such as Ciorcal Comhrá conversation club and Léigh Leatreading club, both of which are hosted by Cookstown Library, will be making a special effortto welcome people who would like to try out words and phrases they know during Gaelfest. Details of local Irish language activities are available at www.guthonline.org. A highlight of the festival comes on Friday 14th March at 8pm as Máirín Hurndall, a radio journalist working with Radio Feirste in Belfast, will be in the Burnavon to talk about her experience with the language and the Protestant Gaelic tradition. Admission to this talk is free.

During Seachtain na Gaeilge, a new series of after-schools classes for pupils taking their GCSEs will be launched. Costing £30 for 10, they will be held in the the Burnavon before Easter. They begin at 4.30pm on Wednesdays. To register for the after-schools classes or for details on any of the events covered by Seachtain na Gaeilge – Gaelfest, contact Séamus Mac Giolla Phádraig, Oifigeach Fhorbairt na Gaeilge (Irish Language Development Officer) with Cookstown District Council at the Burnavon on 028 8676 9949 option 4.


St Ciaran’s College languages department continues to excel

Samhain 18, 2013

A HUGE congratulations to three Year 10 pupils from St. Ciaran’s College Ballygawley – Darragh Canavan, Niall McElvogue, Sarah Gartland and Ellen Rafferty who came 2nd out of 400 participants in an Irish quiz organised by Gael Linn in Dun Uladh!

St. Ciaran’s has a strong track record at this annual event, with school teams regularly successfully competing and bringing back awards. Ellen Rafferty, one of the pupils in the winning team said; “I am delighted to have come second out of so many competitors. I feel really proud of our achievement and grateful of the support our Irish teachers have given us.”

Irish and French students at St. Ciaran’s College are regularly involved in many extra-curricular activities in order to strengthen their understanding of the languages and develop their conversational skills further. Last term, Year 13 French and Irish students went to two local primary schools; Glencull and St. Mary’s Ballygawley to teach primary schools students there over a 6 week period.

This was a great success and Damian Cullen, principal of St. Mary’s Ballygawley said: “As a school, we have very much appreciated the input St. Ciaran’s students gave our Years 5, 6+7 pupils. It has been invaluable to the children at St. Mary’s in giving them an insight and a positive introduction to the language.”

This mutually beneficial initiative meant that both the primary school pupils being taught French and Irish and the Post 16 language students delivering the programme were learning and gaining invaluable experience.

Last year, Year 13 and 14 French and Irish students took part in the Juvenes Translatores contest, organised by the European Union. Pupils had to translate a one-page text in any of the 552 language combinations of their choice from among the EU’s 24 official languages and received certificates for their participation.

This year, St. Ciaran’s college is one of only 17 post-primary schools taking part in the contest later in November.

As well as this, ten Irish students from St. Ciaran’s attended the Gaeltacht over the summer months, with 6 of them being awarded scholarships for Gael Linn and the school was also awarded the Father Murray shield by Comhaltas Uladh for best spoken Irish in a secondary school.

Three students were also awarded scholarships for the Gaeltacht from Comhaltas Uladh for excellent oral work- Shauna Kelly, Grainne Gormley and Niamh Donnelly.Irish students ranging from years 8-11 thoroughly enjoy participating at the Feis each year and last year Shauna Stevenson, a current Year 11 pupil, received a scholarship from the Feis.

To coincide with the European Day of languages at the end of September, the French Onatti Theatre group came to the school to perform a play in French which was a great success and was enjoyed by pupils from years 9-14. This gave the pupils the fantastic opportunity to see live theatre in a different language and gain a greater appreciation of the language.

The Modern Languages department is a core one within St. Ciaran’s and is vital in offering students the opportunity to foster their knowledge and appreciation of both the Irish language as the native language as well as a deeper understanding of the French language and culture.


Axe draws closer for struggling schools

Márta 7, 2013

More than half of secondary schools in the Dungannon District are unsustainable in terms of their current enrolments, according to a new report on the future of education in the Southern Education and Library Board.

Plans to deal with local schools failing to meet viability thresholds were announced in the SELB’s Area Planning report on Thursday.

According to the report, seven out of the district’s ten secondary schools are unviable in terms of their enrolment threshold for years 8 to 12. The Department of Education wants to ensure all secondary schools in the Dungannon district have at least 500 pupils, are getting good results and are not in debt.

Currently there are 317 spare places in local secondary schools, with 128 empty desks at Drumglass, 53 at Aughnacloy High School, 309 at St Joseph’s Coalisland, 21 at St Patrick’s Academy, and 8 at Integrated College Dungannon.

However, the report has called for further consultation to take place this year over the future of Dungannon’s Catholic secondary schools, as well as announcing a stay of execution on the future of Aughnacloy High School and Fivemiletown College, which had to turn away 16 pupils last year because the school had no places for them.

“The issue of cross-border education initiatives is still being developed politically and this may have implications for the planning in the Aughnacloy and Fivemiletown areas”, said the report.

Northern Ireland’s Education Minister has said he is unhappy at the slow progress of some education boards in planning to shut unsustainable schools. Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd is forming a steering group to speed up the process of closing and rebuilding.

The minister is eager for education boards to close unviable schools. He said that in some areas plans have not moved quickly enough. Mr O’Dowd said that was unacceptable and he wants the Catholic authorities to develop definitive solutions. The SELB report announced that merger plans have drawn closure for Dungannon’s Catholic secondary schools.

Following consultation, the Catholic Council for Maintained Schools has found that the best model for the future of St Patrick’s Academy and St Patrick’s College involves the development of a shared educational campus, while retaining the identity and status of both schools, said the report.

With regards to the proposed merger of St Joseph’s College Donaghmore, and St Joseph’s Coalisland, the CCMS said it had taken into account concerns around Irish Medium provision and the expressed view that St Joseph’s Grammar School Donaghmore is a sustainable and viable school.

The report said: “The proposed model is for an 11 – 19 co-educational school, inclusive of Irish Medium provision, in St Joseph’s Grammar School, Donaghmore with an 11 – 16 co-educational school in St Joseph’s High School, Coalisland.

“The potential for the establishment of a formal partnership to maximize opportunities for pupils in both schools, particularly at post 16, should be researched, evaluated and presented to the Trustees for further consideration by June 2013.”

Dungannon District’s primary schools are the next target and the Education Minister will reveal proposals by the middle of March. There are more than 80,000 empty places in schools and the minister has said some may have to close to improve the quality of education children receive.


Mayor praises Dungannon for minding its (Irish) language

Feabhra 15, 2013

DUNGANNON Mayor Phelim Gildernew has paid tribute to the impassioned work of teachers, the voluntary sector, and Irish language officers in making the local district one of the most proficient in Irish speaking in Northern Ireland.

The native language is in such fine fettle that Dungannon district now boasts the second highest proportion of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland. Almost one in five local people claim to speak some Irish (18 percent), second only to the Newry and Mourne District at 20%. Dungannon’s Irish Language Officer Seamus Kilpatrick said the extent of the language renaissance was due to the school system.

“While Gaelscoileanna have recently been to the fore in raising awareness of the educational advantages of second language acquisition at an early age, there has been a long tradition in the Dungannon area of Irish language promotion at secondary education level and of voluntary work in the community.

“That a relatively high percentage of people in the Dungannon district (6.7%) can speak, read and write the language suggests that levels of fluency in the language remain high after students have completed their formal education.

“However, that a similar percentage (6.59%) were returned as having an understanding of the language but not to the extent of speaking it may be a tribute to the impact of the Irish language media in maintaining a profile for the language when schooldays have finished.”

Celebrations are planned to highlight Dungannon’s rich Irish language traditions during this year’s St Patrick’s Festival. Mr Kilpatrick said: “The role of the voluntary sector will be celebrated during Seachtain na Gaeilge, around the St Patrick’s Day festival with a celebration of the part that local branches of the Gaelic League have played in encouraging children to develop an interest in the language; providing classes, giving scholarships to go to the Gaeltacht and establishing Irish language youth clubs.

“A similar support network for adults was provided over the years by the voluntary sector as represented by Comhaltas Uladh and the seed for a range of activities – music, drama and dancing – was planted to give opportunities to use the language outside of the classroom and encouraging its use as a community language and not just as a school subject.

“The recognition achieved for the language in the Good Friday and St Andrew’s Agreements has meant that its status has changed at official level in Ireland, the UK and in the EU. Increasing numbers are declaring Irish as the language of choice for their homes.

“These percentages are not yet at the same level as those for the 1911 census, when the language could be seen to enjoy an unbroken presence back to the time of St Patrick and beyond. But the number is rising. This new bilingualism is yet another indicator that the monolingual household is no longer the norm in 21st century Europe.

Mayor Councillor Phelim Gildernew said: “As a Council we are committed to the promotion of both the Irish Language and Ulster Scots.

“To this end in 2007 with neighbouring Cookstown we appointed an Officer to drive the initiative forward.

“During these six years the development of the Irish language has grown from strength to strength throughout the Borough and I am delighted that this is reflected in the census statistics with Dungannon being placed third for fluency and knowledge of the Irish language.

“I am delighted with these statistics which pay tribute to the schools and organisations who strive to keep the Irish language alive and relevant to up and coming generations.”


10,000 Gaeilge speakers: Dungannon undergoes an Irish renaissance

Feabhra 7, 2013

Use of the Irish language in the Dungannon District is rocketing due to the impassioned work of teachers, educationalists amateur enthusiasts and politicians, it has emerged.

The native language is in such fine fettle that the Dungannon district now boasts the second highest proportion of Irish speakers in Northern Ireland. Almost one in five local people claim to speak some Irish (18 percent), second only to the Newry and Mourne District at 20%.

The extent of the language renaissance was revealed in the latest data released from the 2011 Census.

A total of 10,050 Dungannon residents said they had some ability in Irish.

Language campaigners now believe that the creation of Irish language communities in the local district might be a possibility in the future.

Dungannon Council’s Irish Language Officer Seamus Kilpatrick said there had been an enormous shift in attitudes since the last census in 2001.

The Good Friday Agreement has led to a raft of measures to promote the Irish language, as well as a sea-change in the way Irish is taught in local schools.

Irish medium education in the Dungannon District has also been a big success.

However, hostility to the Irish language still remains.

Last October, DUP politicians accused the council of sending a very bad signal for the Unionist community, after it emerged that a receptionist was greeting callers with “Dia Duit”, Lord Maurice Morrow said he had been contacted by members of the public who had been answered in Irish when contacting the council.
“I immediately contacted the council for a response and it appears a member of staff took the liberty of addressing callers in Irish, which of course, is not council policy.

“I have been assured this matter has been duly noted. However, this sort of behaviour throws out a very bad signal for the Unionist/Protestant community, who represent over 40% of the borough population.”

It emerged that the receptionist in question was Irish-speaking and had decided to do this on his own initiative.



Your chance to learn Irish

Meán Fómhair 3, 2012

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Irish language classes for all levels in your area

Lúnasa 30, 2012

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Launch of new Irish primary

Lúnasa 27, 2012

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Creative Close to Coalisland’s Irish Language Book Club

Iúil 12, 2012

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