Students and teachers from primary and post-primary schools across Ireland, including Clare, gathered at McKee Barracks, Dublin on Thursday to be joined by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny T.D, for the first major presentation of the Gaelbhratach – a purple flag to signify a school’s achievements in fostering the use of Irish.
The Gaelbhratach scheme was initiated last year by Gael Linn, with the support of Foras na Gaeilge and Conradh na Gaeilge. Over forty schools in total were represented in the McKee Barracks’ ceremony – constituting a satisfactory first year for the Gael Linn team.
“The purpose of the Gaelbhratach scheme,” said Síomha Ní Mhuirí of Gael Linn, “is to enable children to use with confidence the Irish they learn in order to communicate with each other, within the school community and with the wider community outside. To date schools have responded very positively to a scheme which is student-led, whilst also providing teachers with a significant support system with regard to the most modern methods of teaching the Irish Language.”
Gael Linn had noted that support was required for primary schools, in particular, in order to follow the Irish Conversational Course as laid down by the Department of Education and Skills and that a structured framework, such as the Gaelbhratach scheme, can lead to significant advances for the teaching of the language throughout the country.
‘Gaelbhratach’ is awarded to schools in recognition of having a set of targets which have been agreed upon by student committees and teachers within each individual school. This system of gradation ensures that the process is owned by the student body and is relevant to the levels of competence within each individual school. Flags will be awarded on merit for a period of two years – after which a school can apply for retention.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, noted the excellent work being done by school’s throughout the country with regard to fostering a positive attitude towards the Irish language and he noted the good work being done by Gael Linn in this regard.
The Gaelbhratach scheme has as its patron the President of Ireland, Micheal D. Higgins. Gael Linn are grateful also for the support of the Department of Defense for the use of McKee Barracks for the purposes of the award ceremony. The master of ceremonies will be Eoghan MacDiarmada.