Irish pupils bound for ‘The Castle’ in Dungiven

Cian Mac Bhloscaidh and Tiarna N� N�ill who will be among the first intake of pupils into the new Gaelchol�iste.
Cian Mac Bhloscaidh and Tiarna N� N�ill who will be among the first intake of pupils into the new Gaelchol�iste.

Students of a new Irish-medium post-primary school based in Dungiven will be taught in the historic Castle for the first two years, the ‘Journal’ can reveal.

The Education Authority is finalising arrangements for the new College to operate from the Castle in Dungiven.

The Castle is a great setting with lots of light and space and has a real sense of heritage. It will provide an inspiring and conducive learning environment.

Nodlaig Brolly

From being the original home of the Ogilby family, housing the US Army during World War II, and later being used as a dance hall and the big show bands during the 1950s and 1960s, Dungiven Castle will be home to Gaelcholáiste Dhoire, starting in September.

Vice chair of the Board of Governors, Nodlaig Brolly said it is “a fantastic base” for the new provision with excellent transport links throughout the county.

“The Castle is a great setting with lots of light and space and has a real sense of heritage. It will provide an inspiring and conducive learning environment,” said Ms Brolly, a governor of the College.

The new all-ability, multi denominational post-primary school will have between 15 and 30 pupils in its first year, growing to more than 40 in the second year and more than 70 in the third year, by which time the school will physically be ready to move on to its permanent premises located at Owenbeg.

Ms Brolly said the long-term intake will be in the region of 450 pupils with the majority of pupils coming from outside the Dungiven area.

Ms Brolly acknowledged criticism of the small first-year figures, but said that is commonplace within in the post-primary Irish-medium sector, and that it is “a successful immersion educational model that has been replicated all over the country and is designed to cater for future growth in the sector”.

Staff are in place, and include a teaching principal, two senior teachers and a part-time teacher, alongside a senior clerical development officer. The project has had the invaluable assistance of Margaret Martin, the former Principal of St Catherine’s College in Armagh. Margaret believes that pupils will ‘have a first-class educational experience’ in Gaelcholáiste Dhoire due to the recruitment of high calibre staff and excellent school premises.

Some minor works are to be completed during the summer at the Castle to ensure it’s ready for new pupils who will have access to four classrooms. The library will be in the upper turret room boosting beautiful views over the Sperrins. The ground level will include assembly and canteen space, a computer suite and the principal’s office and clerical office. Ms Brolly said education officials are “very positive and excited” about the school being located in Dungiven Castle.

The Principal and Board of Governors of Gaelcholáiste Dhoire invite the parents of Rang a 6/7 pupils attending local Gaelscoileanna in the Derry city area to a meeting in Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 10th of June. The Principal and staff will be present and copies of the school prospectus will be available.

For further information on Gaelcholáiste Dhoire please e-mail the Principal:-priomhoidegcd@gmail.com or contact the Chairperson, Niall Ó Catháin on 07801105536.