AN Taoiseach Micheál Martin joined staff and students at Terence MacSwiney Community College in Knocknaheeney to honour 12 second-year students who won the prestigious Joe McDonagh Award in 2020.
This award celebrates Irish culture, Irish heritage, and the Irish language.
The 12 second-year students were honoured to win the award in 2020, using a collaborative online approach with their Irish teacher, Hilary O’Connor, while learning from home throughout April and May.
The students worked diligently on a project that highlighted the benefits of learning through Irish and what the language meant to them.
The Taoiseach paid tribute to the students for their enthusiasm in creating such an engaging project, despite a challenging academic year.
Mr Martin said: “I was delighted to present the Joe McDonagh Award to the winning students, whose diligent and innovative approach to the promotion of Irish culture and language, during a challenging time, was outstanding.
"I extend my sincere congratulations to them, in addition to their teachers and ETBI for their support.”
Principal at Terence MacSwiney Community College, Ms Phil O’Flynn, said the school was honoured to receive the award.
“We were very proud to receive the Joe MacDonagh Award from An Taoiseach, for outstanding contributions to Irish-medium education and culture,” Ms O’Flynn said.
“Our Aonad Lán Ghaeilge is only in its second year and we feel that we have already made great strides offering educational choice and inclusion on the northside of Cork City.”
Chairman of Cork ETB and president of ETBI, Patrick Gerard Murphy, Fianna Fáil councillor, said the students had shown a clear passion to champion Irish language and culture.
“It demonstrates the interest and energy of our students,” Mr Murphy said. “Their teachers deserve great credit for encouraging them to participate. ETBI appreciates how challenging it has been for schools this year and this school has shown great commitment to keeping things going for the students.”
Paddy Lavelle, general secretary of Education & Training Boards Ireland, also paid tribute to the students’ efforts.
Mr Lavelle said: “I am delighted that ETBI has been able to support the development and growth of the Irish language here.”
As part of their winning submission, students reflected on their learning journey, moving from an English-medium primary school to an Irish-medium post-primary school and used their digital skills to develop a book, using Book Creator, and a short video, using iMovie, with iPads proving extremely helpful, as students met weekly outside of class time to work on the project.
The project also reflected on the many activities and events organised to promote the Irish language, both in Gaelcholáiste Mhic Shuibhne, Terence MacSwiney Community College, and within the wider community of Knocknaheeney. Students conducted a survey on attitudes towards the Irish language, prior to these events, and towards the end of the year reflected on the results and began to plan for the future.
As winners, the school was awarded a commemorative plaque and financial support to be used for the further promotion of Irish culture, Irish heritage, and/or Irish language within the school community.
The Taoiseach also unveiled a commemorative plaque to former lord mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney, which was crafted by students from the school’s woodwork academy.