Gaelscoil Chluain Meala will make its own contribution to the year of The Gathering with some special events on Friday, October 18.
A school Mass will be celebrated at 1pm at St. Mary’s Church in Irishtown, Clonmel, at which parents and members of the public will be welcome.
Past pupils and their parents are invited to take a trip down memory lane between 8.30 and 9.30 that evening by visiting the school building in Upper Irishtown for a reunion. This will be followed by a Seisiun Ceol at the nearby Carey’s bar in Irishtown.
“We would love people to come back and visit us. Even if they can’t they might let us know where they are by sending an e-mail or following us on Facebook”, says principal Treasa Nic Dhiarmada.
The events will be a fitting way to celebrate the rich contribution that the town’s all-Irish primary school has made to education since it opened its doors almost 20 years ago. The Gaelscoil has come a long way since it started in September 1994, when it had just 2 teachers - Treasa and Cait ni Chonbhui - and 45 pupils. It now has 218 pupils and 11 teachers.
“There’s a huge demand for children to be taught through Irish. People have a great love for the native tongue and a lot of past pupils have gone on to study Irish”, says Ms Nic Dhiarmada. “Some people may not have Irish themselves but they like their children to have it”.
A restriction on space means that some children have to be turned down for places in the school every year. “It’s unfortunate that this happens but we just don’t have room”, she says.
The school’s long campaign for a permanent home came to an end when the Department of Education purchased the building in Irishtown. “The Department’s architects drew up some beautiful plans to incorporate the older building into a new extension. We’re now awaiting sanction for the funding and we’re very hopeful that this will come through soon”, the principal added.