A MAGHERAFELT Grammar school has been awarded a prestigious shield to recognise its high standard use of spoken Irish.
Staff and pupils at St Marys Grammar School were officially presented with the Sciath Mhic Giolla Bhríde / Ashbourne Shield at special ceremony held recently. The distinguished accolade is awarded each year to the Grammar with the most exemplary standard of spoken Irish language.
St Mary’s has a long tradition with the competition in its 90 year history and has enjoyed previous successes in 1995 and more recently in 2002.
A Level and GCSE students as well as students who have come through the Irish medium sector were assessed by adjudicators from Comhaltas Uladh in March.
It is a cause for great pride and celebration within the school and illustrates the exceptionally high standard of work afforded the pupils. St Mary’s Irish Department wishes to express thanks to all the teachers and language assistants who have helped the students over the years.
Commenting on the school’s achievement Wayne Mc Philomey, Head of Irish, said: “We are delighted to receive this prestigious award. We have an excellent standard of Irish students in St Mary’s.
“They always do their best and thoroughly deserve this award. In St Mary’s, we strive to provide an environment which enables students to make use of what they learn in the classroom through a variety of cross curricular ties with music, sports and games. Winning such a significant award comes from years of hard work and is a testament to the diligent work being done in the local area with regards to the promotion of the Irish language.”
St Mary’s has always emphasised the importance of on the speaking of Irish outside the classroom walls and has endeavoured to highlight to the students that the Irish language is very much a living language.
There is an Irish speaking lunch time club organised by senior students which offers junior students the chance to come along and make use of their ‘cúpla focal’ in a fun and lively environment. This not only benefits the students level of the language but helps to build levels of confidence.
We had the pleasure of University of Ulster lecturer, and Gaeilge enthusiast, Niall Comer to present the school with the award on behalf of Comhaltas Uladh on Friday 14th June.
Amongst the many special guests in attendance was former Head of Irish and recently appointed head of The School of Language and Literature in The University of Ulster, Malachy Ó Néill, and Professor of Education in Queen’s University, Belfast, and proud Gaeilgeoir, Eugene McKendry.