Lá Oscailte – 4ú Bealtaine
Seo an físeán na Lá oscailte Aoine 4ú Bealtaine
MICHEÁL Ó MUIRCHEARTAIGH AT POBAIL ÉANNA
FRIDAY GAELSCOIL ÉANNA
The celebration of the new building commenced at 1300 with refreshments and traditional music provided by the Glengormley School of Music. Micheál was joined by Minister of Education, John O’Dowd, at the front of new building for photographs with the children and the brand new school sign, a life sized gold leafed reproduction of the school crest, designed and produced by Brendan Nugent of SignScript.ie, commissioned to mark the occasion.
The dignitaries then followed the children through the new school building to the new playground at the back whereon Piaras Finucane and Caoilinn McCarthy, two of the first seven pupils in the school in the first year of 2007, welcomed all parents, friends and special guests to the school, on behalf of the children.
John O’Dowd was impressed to be shown an original copy of ‘An Macaomh’, the school publication of Scoil Éanna, after whom the school is named, personally produced by Patrick Pearse. The copy was provided on a special one day loan by local historian Tom Cunningham, past principal of Stella Maris School and grandfather of Ciaran Cunningham in Rang a hAon.
Pilib O Runaí, Chief Executive of Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaíochta, the statutory capital funder of the £500,000 new building also referred to the connection of the new school building to Pearse’s school which was the first Irish medium school, in 1908.
St Enda’s takes its name from the visionary educational project set up by Patrick Pearse and the partnership between St Enda’s GAC and Gaelscoil Éanna reflects that spirit which sees education as a holistic process connecting literacy and numeracy skills, with the arts, sciences, sport and culture. Pearse’s vision is more relevant now than it was a century ago.
‘This school has grasped the challenges set before it, in terms of the quality of education and the growing demand for places. This development is the beginning of a new phase for Gaelscoil Éanna and means it will now have the facilities to match the excellence of its teaching. All the IME sector wants is to have the same opportunities to fulfil its potential as every other educational sector and I am confident that this school will soon rank amongst the very best in the country.’
Niall Murphy, co-founder and chairperson of the school, also drew upon the comparisons but further referred to the importance of the principal of place and the connection of the pupils to the place, and the role of the Irish language within it. A core theme of the modern curriculum is ‘An Domhain Thart Orainn’ – The World Around Us. This is designed to inculcate in pupils an appreciation and an awareness of their surroundings, both immediately in the local context and also internationally. It provides the pupil with a knowledge and understanding of their place in the world and the importance of their sense of place, and indeed the importance of their belonging in that place. Niall referred to the river which flows at the back of the school, which dissects the club land and also actually serves as a Diocesan boundary separating Down from Connor, which is called Glas na Breadan, literally the River of the Salmon. The connectivity of the river to other communities in Glengormley, Whitewell and Rathcoole and representations of the River in stained glass in local churches as well as the mythological story of an Breadan Feasa, demonstrated how a rich seam of mythology, scéalaíocht or story telling, local geography and indeed religious instruction can be derived from a natural resource on our premises. Niall made further reference to the logainm or placename of the actual land, on which the school is placed, An Baile Bocht or Ballybought, which translates as the Poor Land. The 1911 Ordinance Survey map also recorded the placename as Biggarstown, named after the famous enlightened Mallusk Presbyterian family of the same name., whose most famous son, Francis Joseph, would become one of the most famous cultural revivalists of the early 20th Century maintaining personal friendships with Pearse and also Roger Casement and Bulmer Hobson, as well as maintaining active member of Conradh na Gaeilge, and collected folklore from the descendants of the Presbyterian men of 1798 Rising, from the local areas of Ballyclare and Mallusk. The 1911 Ordinance Survey maps also records, at the old entrance to St Enda’s GAC in the 1980’s location of a National School, which even in 1911 had since been closed. Niall speculated that with the townland referred to as Biggarstown, and with Francis Joseph having been born in 1863 in Mallusk, it might not be a stretch of the imagination to imagine that Francis Joseph may have attended his primary education wherein his cultural inspiration may have been stirred, not 200 metres from where Gaelscoil Éanna is presently situated.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh then spoke with the fluency of poetry, moving at ease from English to Irish with a grace befitting the occasion. He remarked as to how inspirational the entire Pobail Éanna project was, stating that our national culture was as secure in Glengormley as it was in the Gaeltacht. He referred to the Memorial Stone, which proudly sits at the front steps of St Endas, and referred to the ambitions of Faith and Hope which are inscribed on it. He stated that the faith and hope of the guardians of the club had given the school a space in which to grow and flourish. Micheál spoke authoritatively about Scoil Éanna (now the home of the Pearse Museum at St Enda’s Park, Rathfarnham) and how it was key to the revival of Irish culture, and particularly Gaelic Games, at the start of the 20th century. It was founded by Padraig Pearse with the aim to create a school which was distinctly Irish in as many ways possible, and Gaelic Games were central to that objective. Pearse aimed to give boys under his care as wide and rounded education as possible, including the teaching of the Irish language, so sport was seen as an important part of the curriculum.He illuminated the audience of over 350, with facts such as from its foundation, Scoil Éanna was one of the leading Gaelic Games playing schools. Dr. Doody, one of the teachers, was responsible for the foundation of the Leinster Inter-College championships on November 26, 1910, and indeed Pearse was elected vice-chairman of the committee on that occasion. Micheál provided the story of Scoil Éanna through his conversations and friendship with a famous past pupil of the Scoil Éanna, Frank Burke, who would also become headmaster of the school until 1935. Micheál regaled the audience, with the story of how Burke had recalled running home from school where he had been required to play cricket, to ask his mother could he join the new ‘hurling’ school having seen an ad in a local shop window! He was on the hurling and football team and captained the team which won the Junior Dublin’s School Cup in 1910-11. Frank later fought in the 1916 Easter Rising and was interned in Frongoch, in Wales. Although only released in 1917, he was on the Dublin All-Ireland winning hurling team that year. He won a second hurling All-Ireland with Dublin in 1920. In addition, he won All-Ireland medals with Dublin for football in 1921, ‘22 and ‘23. Micheál would also advise how Frank Burke was the only natural born Dubliner to hold an All Ireland hurling medal, and further how he was one of a select band of fifteen men to win All Ireland medals in both hurling and football.
With the speeches concluded, Micheál was presented with a Bog Oak sculpture by renowned local artist Eamon Maguire. The piece was aptly called ‘An Breadan Fease’, the Salmon of Knowledge, representing the representation of education in mythology and also referencing the river close to the school, the Glas na Breadan. The audience then gathered at the front of the new school for the official ribbon cutting ceremony. All 77 of the pupils were there assembled and they sang ‘Óró, sé do bheatha ‘bhaile’ and Amhran na bhFiann before Micheál formally cut the black and amber ribbon to herald a new generation for Glengormley Gaels.
SATURDAY 5TH MAY OPENING OF THE TWO NEW PITCHES AND RE-DEDICATION OF PITCHES
The St Endas family were joined by an array of civic leaders who were all in attendance to witness the opening of the two brand new pitches which have been under construction since 2009. Minister of Sport Caral Ní Chuillin was joined by Antrim County Board Chairman Jim Murray and Mayor of Newtownabbey Council Billy Webb in commending club Chairperson, Michael Scott for the sterling work undertaken by him and his Committee in delivering the infrastructure that the club will now benefit from for the years to come. Michael Scott also welcomed esteemed guest, GAA legend Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh to officially dedicate the clubs two main pitches to two special club members no longer with us. Páirc Phádraig Mhic Laibheartaigh was named after Paddy Laverty Park who served the club as Chairman from its foundation in 1956 until 1981, and then latterly as the clubs first President from 1982 until his passing in 1986. The new pitch was named Páirc Ghearóid Uí Dhoibhlin after Gerry Devlin who gave many years service to Naomh Éanna CLG as a player, senior football manager and as Vice Chairperson. Gerry was murdered at the gates of the club, on 5th December 1997, on the last night prior to our moving to the current premises.
Michael Scott gave an eloquent and emotional oration about the difficult times the club has faced in the past, and of how blessed the club was with members of the calibre, drive and dedication of Gerry and Paddy. He also gave an overview of the grant application and delivery of the new pitch project which was far from smooth. At the commencement of the development it was decided to exhaust all avenues and purchase more land, and develop two new pitches at once, which required an additional fundraising effort. The geography of the location also gave rise to challenges, with natural springs unveiling themselves in the far corner of what is now the Gerry Devlin pitch, and also a significant amount of rock which gave cause to the creation of a rockface at the top far corner of the same pitch. Michael also thanked the funders, SportNI who were represented by the Minister, and also Newtownabbey Council who made their first investment in the capital development of Gaelic Games in the Borough with the award of £19,800 to develop goalposts, catch nets and a fence for the Go Games pitch.
Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh was equally emotional and effusive in his praise, for what he extolled as this strong and vibrant unit of our Association. He was delighted that St Endas had chosen the under 15’s from Valley Rovers of Cork, who had hosted the Hightown lads at last year’s Féile Peil na nÓg, which delivered a first All Ireland title to the club. He commented that Valley Rovers were the only club in Ireland that had provided the GAA with two past Presidents, Sean McCarthy from 1932 to 1935 and Con Murphy from 1976 to 1979. He observed that Con Murphy had been very vocal and protective of northern GAA clubs and had protested strongly about the occupation of Crossmaglen’s land by the British Army at that time, and that Crossmaglen had built on the strength of their adversity to win All Irelands in a way that he hoped and trusted that St Endas would in the future, and that the days events were evidence of that beginning.
Micheál stated that Paddy Laverty was archetypal of the men who made the Association great, that he had literally given a lifetime of service to the club, and as such it was appropriate that for the lifetime of the club, the pitch would be honoured in his name, indeed until this land would no longer exist. He stated that Gerry Devlin had been described to him as the greatest manager the club had ever had, in the same way that Brian Cody was described at the greatest Kilkenny hurling manager, or Mick O’Dwyer as the greatest Kerry football manager. The crowds then gathered outside for the formal unveiling of the plaques which Micheál stated bore a quote from Patrick Pearse was remarkably apt,
Ní dhéanfaidh Gaedhil dearmad oraibh go brách na breithe
The Gael will never forget you, until the end of time
Micheál stated that until the end of time the memories of these two great servants of the club would be remembered fondly.
The first official matches on the new pitch then took place with Micheál formally throwing the ball in between St Endas and Valley Rovers and was joined in this ceremony by Caral Ní Chuillin. Unlike every match to follow on this pitch, the score was not important, rather the importance was that it was happening. That there were friends and family from all over Ireland gathered to be impressed by the great future of the club whilst at the same time remembering with pride the greatness of it past.