I went into the bookshop in Buncrana at the weekend and I bought a little book that I hadn’t seen before: ‘Crann na Síogaithe’, a collection of fairy tales written by Inter-cert pupils in Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny. There are five stories altogether. The standard of writing is very high, but I must say that I was disillusioned: I realise now that all fairies are not as nice as I thought. In my opinion, the five writers could write professionally one day – if they get the chance.
The book shows how much talent there is in the school and it is no wonder that the demand for places is high. The school is in a new building and there are around 300 pupils on roll- a very satisfactory number. The pupils can choose a wide range of subjects. There are lots of clubs and the pupils are very involved in extra-curricular activities- sport, music, drama, language competitions etc. As it says on the school’s Internet site, the pupils prove that Irish can be a modern teaching instrument which does not hold back individual progress or development.
Numbers are very important in a school: if there are enough pupils on roll, the school can get more teachers and more money for teaching and extra-curricular activities. The numbers are important for team games. Also, a child likes making new friends after primary school. He or she benefits from getting to know children from different backgrounds. If the number of children being taught through Irish is low it is better to make a stream available in an English medium college where they can be taught a large part of the curriculum through Irish. This system works very well in several places in the Six Counties. You cannot keep a child in a bubble.