Students of a Carrick-on-Suir primary school are doing their bit to strengthen the links between their hometown and Newfoundland by twinning with a school in the Canadian province.
Carrick-on-Suir’s Presentation Primary School has twinned with St Matthew’s Elementary School in Newfoundland’s captial St John’s, and students from both schools have been getting to know each other through Skype as well as exchanging letters, greeting cards and handcrafted gifts.
The 26 pupils of the Presentation’s 3rd Class with their class teacher Julie Gahan have enjoyed two Skype sessions with the 16 boys and girls from St Matthew’s third grade class in recent weeks.
The latest Skype session between the two classes took place just before the Easter holidays when the story of the Titantic disaster and the common connections between Ireland and Newfoundland to the ill-fated ship were explored.
Their first Skype session took place on Friday, March 16, and unsurprisingly St Patrick’s Day was the one of the main topics of discussion.
A sense of great excitement and expectation was palpable in Presentation Primary as the pupils waited to see for the first time the faces of their new friends from across the seas in Newfoundland.
The pupils of St Matthew’s were equally excited when they saw the hand crafted leprechauns sent by them were on display in the Carrick-on-Suir classroom.
The Skype session lasted over an hour and consisted of pupils from both classes introducing each other, asking questions about hobbies and past times, St Patrick’s Day customs, favourite music and subjects.
These were the first occasions that many of the Carrick-on-Suir and St. John’s student experienced the wonders of Skype technology.
The exercise has helped to further their IT skills and proved to be most rewarding and beneficial.
The twinning programme between the two schools was established at last year’s Festival of the Sea in Newfoundland and it’s the fourth twinning between schools from the South East of Ireland and Newfoundland..
The twinning programme is facilitated by Ireland Newfoundland Connections in Ireland and Festival of the Sea in Newfoundland.
Newfoundland/ Labrador was one of the principle destinations for emigrants from the South East including Carrick-on-Suir between 1750 and 1820 and it’s even today regarded as the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland as family names, Irish accents, music and customs from the South East are still dominant.
Kryan Dwyer, Principal of St Matthew’s, is, in fact, a direct descendant of a Carrick-on-Suir emigrant, Michael Greene, who was born in Pieman’s Lane in Carrick-on-Suir around 1790 and is buried in the remote Tilting on Fogo Island in Newfoundland.
A commemorative wreath was laid at his grave last year by a group of Carrick-on-Suir people, who travelled as part of a larger group from the South East to Newfoundland for the Festival of The Sea, which celebrates the historic links between the two region.
The Festival of the Sea’s sister celebration in this country, the Newfoundland/Ireland Festival, was founded in 2005 to strengthen the close ties between the two regions. It is organised by Ireland Newfoundland Connections and takes place in the South East every second year.