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Connacht Tribune

Naíonra parents find more questions than answers

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An ad-hoc committee of Connemara parents have come back with more questions than answers following their meeting with the board of the Ionad Tacaíochta Teaghlaigh in relation to their policies for running the local Naíonra.

A group of 30 parents met at the Poitín Stil in Indreabhán on Monday night to find out the response from the ITT board on concerns surrounding their staff issues and Irish language policy- which involves the separation of children based on their command of Irish.

Most of the questions asked by the committee, however, were redirected to the newly appointed temporary manager who was not in attendance on the night of the committee’s meeting with the ITT board.

The committee did say that the ITT were very insistent on their Irish language policy despite an apparent majority of parents who don’t want the segregation of children based on their language skills.

Committee member Caroline Schmidt said it felt they were prioritising the language over the well-being of the children.

“We all want our children to have the highest level of Irish but it’s like they are putting the Irish language to one side and the welfare of children to another when they should be working together,” she said.

The committee noted that the ITT board did not seem to be well informed with regards to the Síolta Early Childhood Care and Education guidelines that were mentioned by the group of parents.

They also questioned the validity of the study the ITT used to justify their policy which said the best way for both native and non-native child speakers to learn is to be grouped with similarly-skilled speakers.

Committee member Anne Marie Gannon said that the report looked as if it was commissioned by the Department of the Gaeltacht and argued that if this was the case then it would be limited by having such a profound conflict of interest.

“What they are basing this on is very questionable because it is not an independent study to our knowledge.

“We haven’t been able to find any evidence that the study has been peer reviewed or published in any scientific journal so we can’t be sure of the validity of this study,” she added.

Staffing was another concern raised at the meeting with only one appointment confirmed to the committee despite the naíonra opening its doors on Wednesday. The ITT reassured parents there would be an adequate number of staff by the start of the term with interviews being held last Thursday.

There was confusion over this timeline as those in attendance at the Poitín Stil argued that from their experience, Garda vetting would take at least a week to complete.

The committee said that they brought this up with the ITT board and they assured them that the process would only take a few days because they were doing it online.

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh was also at the meeting to give help to the committee and he says that it was important that these issues were brought to the board’s attention.

“The parents are now going to monitor how this Irish language policy is implemented and will come back to it this September,” he added.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh said that the meeting at the end of September would give an indication whether the board listened to the parent’s concerns.

“The upcoming meeting is about following up on these issues, and it’s a test to see how seriously the ITT are taking the concerns of the parents.”

Connacht Tribune

Organiser picked the perfect time for Inis Meáin blackberry festival

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Blackberries against the beautiful Inis Meáin landscape. Photo: Cormac Coyne.

A brand new blackberry festival, ‘Féile na bPuiteachaí’ will take place on Inis Meáin today Saturday 1 October, celebrating the island’s blackberries with a wide variety of events.

The festival is named after an Irish word, ‘puiteachaí’, which is unique to Inis Meáin and is used locally instead of the more commonly-known ‘sméara dubha’.

Events taking place at Halla Naomh Eoin on the day include blackberry ink and jam-making, poetry and baking competitions, a gin workshop and an evening concert.

Festival Director Aedín Ní Thiarnaigh said: “We are absolutely delighted to launch this festival and to celebrate some of the many assets we have here on the island; from the blackberries themselves to the skills of the Inis Meáin community.

“It’s all about appreciating the landscape around us, as well as our local culture and community,” she said.

Entries are welcome for the first ever ‘Féile na bPuiteachaí’ Baking Competition (3pm) which invites bakers to prepare a dish of their choice with blackberries as a key ingredient. Entries will be judged on the day by head baker at the Michelin Green Star Award-Winning Inis Meáin Restaurant and Suites, Maedhbh Ní Dhomhnaill, with prizes of €100 for first place, €50 for second and €30 for third.

“There’s great excitement among the local community already about the competitions, which is brilliant. Of course, we also welcome entries from other areas and hope to get support from our neighbours on the Aran Islands and in Conamara,” said Gráinne Ní Chonaighle, Vice Director of the festival and project co-ordinator with Comhlacht Forbartha Inis Meáin.

From food to drink, high demand is expected for Pádraig Ó Fátharta’s drinks workshop (4.30pm), where he will reveal his top tips for gin-making with Inis Meáin’s wild autumn fruits and where participants will make their own wild gin infusions to take home.

Television presenter and folklorist Aedín Ní Thiarnaigh will lead a guided blackberry-picking tour on the day (noon), where participants will gather their own berries and hear folklore associated with the island’s unique landscape.

Participants can then put their berries to good use at the first of the day’s family events, making fresh blackberry ink with local women Juda Uí Loinsigh and Orlaith Bhreathnach and creating their very own ‘puiteachaí’ painting.

No blackberry festival would be complete without some good old-fashioned jam-making (1pm) and festival goers will also have the option to turn their own collected berries into jam on the day in the Halla Naomh Eoin kitchen.

Award-winning harpist Úna Ní Fhlannagáin will take to the Halla Naomh Eoin stage for the festival finale for a night of music and song from 8pm.

More information and event registration will be available at inismeainbeo.ie and at Siopa Ruaidhrí Beag in the week before the festival.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Lackagh students’ mini-boat sets sail in the South Atlantic

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Fourth class from Scoil Bhríde, Lackagh with Sheena Fennell, Earth and Ocean Sciences, NUI Galway, teacher Tomás Higgins, and Principal Shane O’Connor.

Spiorad na Gaillimhe, an uncrewed mini-boat built and decorated by students from Scoil Bhríde in Lackagh has set sail in the South Atlantic.

It is one of four miniboats – the others from schools in Spain, Germany and South Africa – that were deployed from the Alfred-Wegener Institute’s Icebreaker, RV Polarstern, as it sails between Germany and South Africa.

These four new vessels will join the 18 Educational Passages boats that are currently sailing around the world’s oceans. Spiorad na Gaillimhe (Spirit of Galway) is the first mini-boat to set sail in the South Atlantic.

School Principal Shane O’Connor and teacher Tomás Higgins were fundamental in ensuring the project was delivered.

Mr Higgins said: “The project was an engaging and great project for the pupils that’s cross curricular in nature incorporating many skills and subjects such as science, maths, art and geography and gave us the opportunity to bring the theme of the ocean and ocean literacy into the classroom in a fun and interesting way.

“We were delighted in Scoil Bhríde to have this unique and great opportunity, thanks to the support of Sheena Fennell, University of Galway, POGO [Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean] and Educational Passages, to participate in the Miniboat Programme.

“And I’m delighted that my colleague Aisling White will continue on working with our pupils during this academic year and she looks forward to following the journey of Spiorad na Gaillimhe and continuing the project with the pupils.”

The project was funded by the Nippon Foundation and POGO and has provided the students in Galway with an opportunity to learn more about oceanography and ocean technology.

Professor Peter Croot and Senior Oceanography Technician Sheena Fennell from Earth and Ocean Sciences at University of Galway worked with the school throughout the process, delivering ocean experiments and guidance with the build.

Professor Croot said: “The students in Scoil Bhríde were responsible for constructing the boat, deciding on a name, decorating the sail and hull and, most importantly, had to decide what treasures to place in the hold for any lucky finder if it comes ashore.

“Once Spiorad na Gaillimhe sets sail it will regularly send its GPS location and values of sea and air temperature. The students will be working to predict where it will sail in the ocean by looking at weather and ocean current maps, thereby learning about our oceans.”

You can keep up to date by searching ‘Spiorad na Gaillimhe’ on educationalpassages.org

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Motorists urged to think twice about their parking

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Motorists are being reminded about careless and illegal parking.

MOTORISTS around Galway have been reminded this week that careless parking on footpaths – or illegally taking up spaces allocated for disabled drivers – can cause untold hardship for people with disabilities.

‘Make Way Day’ is taking place this Friday when motorists will be asked to think twice before leaving their cars in ‘obstructive positions’ – cyclists who tie their bikes onto poles and railings are also being targeted.

And while Friday’s campaign is essentially about awareness and respect, motorists have also been reminded of the severe fines that can be imposed for careless parking on paths or in disability spaces.

One of the campaign organiseers, Peter Gohery from Eyrecourt, said that parking in a disability parking space without the designated blue card carries a €150 fine while the penalty can rise to €3,000 if such a card is being illegally used by someone else.

“There are penalties in place for this kind of parking but first and foremost we want this to be an awareness and respect campaign.

“If, for example, someone with a disability is forced onto the public road because a car is parked on a path, this involves not only an inconvenience for the disabled person, but also a real danger,” said Mr Gohery.

An amputee himself following a farming accident a number of years back, Mr Gohery said that awareness and common-sense by drivers could make a huge difference to people who suffered from disabilities.

“For example, a visually impaired person using a guide dog, can be forced off the path if a car is illegally parked there – we’re just pleading with people to think twice before they park illegally,” he said.

Dr Charlotte May, Galway Public Participation Network (PPN) Co-ordinator, said that Make Way Day was part of a national campaign ran by the Disability Federation of Ireland aimed at bringing people with disabilities and the wider community together.

“The day is meant to be a friendly reminder that cars parked on footpaths; bicycles illegally parked; and bins left on footpaths, all block the way and create barriers for people.

“Make Way Day is not about pointing the finger at local authorities, other agencies, or randomly scattered activism.

“The whole point of the day is making the public aware of an issue that is fully within their power to change. It’s about one impactful, co-ordinated and decisive day of action,” she said.

Make Way Day will be marked this Friday in Loughrea (Bridge Street carpark) at 10am and in Portumna (The Square next to St. Brigid’s) at 12.30pm where obstacles on the paths and streetscapes will be identified and highlighted.

A similar type of event is also planned for Clifden between 11am and 1pm starting off from the Town Hall.

“The campaign brings the disability and wider community together to consider the needs of people with disabilities in the public spaces we all share.

“Everyone can get involved. And everyone should get involved because we’ve discovered thoughtlessness is the big issue,” said Dr May.

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