12 Jun 2017

Irish will be valued yet

Posted by James Mernin.

On the occasion opening of the new school building the following article was published in the Munster Express.

“Irish will be valued yet” — Philib Barron (1801-44)

Gaelscoil Philib Barún was founded over 30 years ago in Tramore to serve those in the community who had an interest in their native language and who wanted their children to experience immersion education in a Gaelscoil.

It was always a community project, beginning with a conversation among language enthusiasts who believed in “Yes we can” many years before it was fashionable. It was these few who recruited pupils for the school, appointed a principal and sought recognition from the Department of Education. Deirdre Ní Ghallachóir, that first principal, with 29 pupils started in a makeshift classroom and while the demand was there for the school many obstacles effected its growth from the start, notably the temporary nature of the accommodation, initially in Tramore House and then in Stella Maris House in Pond Road.

The Board of Management sought a site in the 1990s but it wasn’t until 2003 that temporary prefabs were put on a 2.5 acre site purchased by the Department of Education and Skills in Crobally Upper. It is on this site that the school’s wonderful new building sits overlooking the back strand, the sand dunes and Brownstown Head.

Gaelscoileanna have mushroomed over the past 50 years all over the country, north and south. Every town now offers choice to parents who may want their children to experience their native language as a living and vibrant language of instruction and learning. It is indeed right that finally Tramore has its own Gaelscoil that it can be proud of. The last native speaker in the area of Irish died in the 1960’s but Irish lives as a language within the gates of the Gaelscoil.

As Philip Barron, a native of Waterford and an Irish language enthusiast of the 1830’s, said “Gaelic will yet be valued again”. Until then it behoves us to reserve its place in our community.