Gaelscoilleanna eating into mainstream rolls…

Interesting piece on Gaelport, which reports on how Irish medium schools in the Republic are attracting the upwardly mobile middle classes, even to the point of being charged with being ‘elitist’. In some cases, local mainstream schools are struggling to keep viable.

However, a spirit of inclusivity is no guarantee of diversity. Clued-in, academically motivated parents are signing their children up to gaelscoileanna when they are born; those with less savvy have a slim chance of getting in the door when the waiting lists are full years in advance. According to Blaithnead Ní Ghréacháin, this is a symptom of under-resourcing in the sector, especially at post-primary level, where there is massive demand but limited availability.

  • Peter

    “Slugger O’Toole

    Notes on Northern Ireland politics and culture”

    You’re on the wrong blog Mick!

  • Peter,

    I’ve written about the Tory party conference, the Brown succession, the riots in France, development issues in Africa, the mid term elections in the US. If the strapline strikes such a jarring tone with the actual content of the blog, maybe it is time to change the strapline?

  • Peter

    “I’ve written about the Tory party conference, the Brown succession, the riots in France,……”

    come on now Mick, the republic’s your wee pet now isn’t it? lol

    “If the strapline strikes such a jarring tone with the actual content of the blog, maybe it is time to change the strapline?”

    anything you wish, dear Mick!

  • overhere

    Peter

    Get a life mate

    As for relevance as the Irish language is a living langusge in the North then surely news of language issues are relevant.

    As for your swipe at Mick, well that says more about you than anything !

  • George

    Mick,
    I have been thinking about this and you could change it to:

    “Notes on Northern Ireland, politics and culture”

    Then you can write about what you like. It’s amazing what an apostrophe can do for meaning.

    On this elitism thing, there are Gaelscoileanna in some of the poorest areas of Dublin, Limerick etc.

    The main reason they are doing so well is because children get a really good education.

  • Glensman

    True George,

    Kids for some reason that i don’t knoe thrive in these conditions. Figures show that overall the perform better in exams and are happier at school. I wish i hada went to a Gael Scoil.

  • Dublin voter

    It’s a very interesting topic. Much too simplistic to say that the success of the Gaelscoileanna is down to elitism.

    A more interesting debate is around why kids do better academically (is there empirical evidence?) in Gaelscoileanna. The other big movement in the South is the Educate Together, multidenominational schools which are also increasing in number.
    I think an obvious reason why these schools might be more successful is that parents have made a conscious decision (for whatever reason) to send their kids there. So the parents are interested, more likely to be involved, more supportive and so on. As opposed to parents who just send their kids to the local school because it’s there – that’s not a criticism, I did the same myself.

    If you did a class (!) analysis of Gaelscoileanna Vs Educate Together schools I would say you would find more of the former set up in working class areas while the latter would be more middle class. The reasons…. nostalgic nationalism more of a pull to some of the working class, rejection of the Catholic church more of a pull to some of the middle class?

  • Ullans

    George,

    ““Notes on Northern Ireland, politics and culture”

    Then you can write about what you like. It’s amazing what an apostrophe can do for meaning.”

    I think you mean comma, not apostrophe…

  • George

    Ullans,
    I think I do! Oops.

  • Peter,

    If you want the east west Slugger cuts into interesting categories: http://tinyurl.com/3yuzuq

  • Dev

    Clearly these types of school do better because Irish is the natural language through which all patriotic Gaels can communicate. This filthy English tongue has been holding me back for years, that’s why I was so crap at French in school!

  • StarHound

    There is plenty of evidence and research on the benefits of bilingualism in many different societies but this is only part of the reason why parents choose to send their children to Gaelscoileanna.

    I think the vast majority of parents with children in Gaelscoileanna believe in the importance of the Irish language.

    There is however, anecdotal evidence of parents in Dublin as far as I have heard, seeking to have their children educated in an Irish only environment on the grounds that they feel the quality of mainstream schools is suffering due to non-national children who often need additional attention because of poor English.

  • Rory

    This Peter fellow does have an interesting point, Mick. Perhaps if you confined your content to the swansong of Ulster Unionism, the fortunes of Linfield F.C., Orange marches and the culinary delights of the Ulster Fry we might then find your site to be so bloody inane that we all could sagely switch off and spend some time with our families. I’m sure Herself would be all for it.

  • Rory

    That was intended to read “safely”, though perhaps “sagely” is equally appropriate. (A Freudian literary slip indicating unfounded intellectual self-regard that has me blushing).

  • Rory

    Posts 13 and 14 above are mine but appear to be unsigned. I don’t know why this is so I did not seek anonymity of authorship.

    Rory

  • George

    Starhound,
    There is however, anecdotal evidence of parents in Dublin as far as I have heard, seeking to have their children educated in an Irish only environment on the grounds that they feel the quality of mainstream schools is suffering due to non-national children who often need additional attention because of poor English.

    This is a story some people do like to put about, no doubt people who actually don’t send their own children to Gaelscoileanna.

    I wonder what they make of the fact that there are Gaelscoileanna now putting up notices in Polish and the like in an effort to attract immigrant children.

    Personally, I think the rise is because they are as good if not better than fee-paying schools for results and they are free.

    And the other reason is that a lot of Irish people actually do cherish the Irish language.

  • Ziznivy

    Ach! I thought this was some kind of foot poisoning been spread in bread rolls! 🙁

  • Peter

    Mick,
    I have been thinking about this and you could change it to:

    “Notes on Northern Ireland, politics and culture”

    Then you can write about what you like. It’s amazing what an apostrophe can do for meaning.

    Posted by George on Apr 20, 2007 @ 09:58 AM

    Good Idea George. I would like to hear more information on a country close to my heart, Iceland. There’s a great article today in soundgenerator stating that the Sigur Ros book underway.

    A book charting the tour adventures of Sigur Ros through their native Iceland is to be published in June.

    Giving an in depth perspective of their “Takk” world tour, “In A Frozen Sea: A Year With Sigur Ros” will features a host of images of works submitted by fans, interviews and a plethora of unseen content all captured during the band’s free tour of Iceland.

    The summer months of June saw Sigur Ros playing makeshift stages right across their homeland, from big set-ups in the capital Reykjavik, to tiny crowd in small countryside villages.

    Published June 1st, the book will also be accompanied by a limited edition vinyl LP release, which will also include several of the band’s albums – “Agaetis Byrjun”, “( )”, “Takk” and “Smaskifa” – on 12″.

  • páid

    Peter,

    if you think the fortunes of Gaelscoileanna are irrelevant to Northern Ireland politics, you are going to find your new Education Minister a bit upsetting.

  • Peter

    do you think so, páid?

    I wouldn’t care if he was threatening to jump from a tall building if his demands aren’t met. He can shout, jump, sing and dance all he likes, the Republic is a seperate concern to N.Ireland. It has as much in common with N.Ireland as Wales has to Scotland

  • The Third Policeman

    He? His? He? He?

    What?

  • Niall

    “the Republic is a seperate concern to N.Ireland. It has as much in common with N.Ireland as Wales has to Scotland”

    Wales and Scotland have quite a lot in common. All the people’s on these islands have more in common with each other than we do to any other countries in the world. It’s cretinous to think otherwise. There have been plenty of posts on Welsh, Scottish and English nationalism on this site. Maybe you don’t have any connections – personal, cultural or historical – to the south but plenty of your countrymen do.

    Ultimately, it’s Mick’s site: he can put what he likes on it. If you don’t like it you don’t have to read it. The site would probably manage to survive without your valuable contribution.

    To get back to the original topic of this thread, any people I know who went to Gaeilscoileanna are middle class types. In the recent past it would almost have been considered ‘elitist’ to be an Irish speaker if you weren’t from a gaeltacht area. There traditionally hasn’t been much of a gra for the auld mother tongue in working class areas. This may be changing, however, but I’d imagine its still primarily a middle class phenomenon.

    I’d say more people in Northern Ireland speak Irish than in the south – for political reasons.

  • sms

    Niall
    you’re talking through your aul’ “caubin”. all 10 Irish primary schools ,12 nursery schools and 1 secondary school in Belfast are all in working class areas, incidently, for what it’s worth, none of them is affiliated to any particular church or religion.

  • Niall

    I’m not talking about Belfast – there’s completely different reasons why northern nationalists are keen for their children to learn Irish, which I mentioned in my post.

    I’m talking about the south and I’m speaking anecdotally so I’m open to any evidence to the contrary. Most people I know would associate Gaeilgeoirs, outside of Gaeltacht areas, with the middle classes. With no political incentive to learn Irish in the south it was left to the more bohemian elements of the middle and upper classes to learn Irish. This trend is changing, but I sincerely doubt it’s a working class phenomenon.

  • sms

    Niall
    when your in a hole stop digging! If Belfast doesn,t count in this anecdotal nonsence , what about Dublin, Swords,Ballymun,Cabra,Clondolcan,Lucan,Tallaght, Santry, are just some of the working class areas in Dublin where Irish Language schools are situated. Those friends of yours will have to go to re education classes or move to other anecdotes. If you go into “Gaelscoileanna* on the web you,ll get the facts from all over Ireland and no anecdotes

  • Niall

    So everybodybody in Swords, Ballymun, Tallaght and Lucan is working class, are they? You’re the one who needs to get a few facts straight. In every area there’s upwardly mobile middle class types. Maybe you should come down and hang around the street corners of these areas and try to converse with some of the local tracksuits as gaeilge.

    Have you actually read the article the post links to? All those interviewees should check out ‘gaelscoileanna’ on the web as well, should they, to form their opinions?

    Even the people from the Foras Patrunachta agree that the schools have traditionally been seen as elitist. I suppose that’s just anecdotal nonsense as well.

  • páid

    Sorry Niall, not letting you away with elitist.

    In fact, take a running jump.

    Anyone can set up a gaelscoil in any area of ireland, with pupils from any background. That dot to the left is a full stop.

    Minority without proper books, accommodation or funding does not constitute elite. I know because I was involved in setting one up.

    Élite, mo thóin.

  • Niall

    Listen, Paid

    I’m well aware that anyone can set up a gaeilscoil in any part of Ireland with pupils from any background. I’m not disputing that.

    But theory and practice are two very different things. Are you seriously telling me that the majority of people who attend gaeilscoileanna in Ireland today are working class?

    I know people who went to a gaeilscoil in Tallaght but they were all from the surrounding middle class areas – Rathcoole, etc.

    The fact is that for many speaking Irish is a status thing.

  • Starhound
    Two good points SH.

    “There is plenty of evidence and research on the benefits of bilingualism in many different societies but this is only part of the reason why parents choose to send their children to Gaelscoileanna.”

    Personally i’m a strong believer in the benefits of bilingualism. It’s one of the reasons i’d like to see a stronger push for Irish medium education. I believe our kids would benefit greatly.

    “There is however, anecdotal evidence of parents … seeking to have their children educated in an Irish only environment on the grounds that they feel the quality of mainstream schools is suffering due to non-national children who often need additional attention because of poor English. ”

    Interesting point. My own young one has class mates who don’t have a word of English, it’s bound to cause serious difficulties for already stressed-to-the-point-of-breaking schools. Some (most?) schools have had hired special teachers to deal with the non-English speakers. It’s something the government needs to take a close look at. Which I doubt they’ll do.

  • Niall
    “Even the people from the Foras Patrunachta agree that the schools have traditionally been seen as elitist”

    Might be true in certain areas. The school down the road from me is the opposite, i’ve heard a complaint from one individual that there are too many ‘townies’ kids going there.

  • páid

    Páid…..Are you seriously telling me that the majority of people who attend gaeilscoileanna in Ireland today are working class?

    Erm.. Niall

    Are you seriously suggesting that Irish gaelscoil parents can be divided into the erm.. British class system?

    If they can, is leithreas a toilet or a lavatory?

    Just in case Kate Middleton’s mam/mum/mom/ma moves here.

  • Niall

    “Are you seriously suggesting that Irish gaelscoil parents can be divided into the erm.. British class system?”

    Not really sure what the hell you’re talking about here, Paid. Are you suggesting class doesn’t exist in Ireland?

  • páid

    No Niall I’m not suggesting class does not exist in Ireland; I am suggesting that it is not a major factor in Irish language education.

    Move out of McWilliams’s HiCo land in Ranelagh and visit gaelscoileanna in Westport or Cork or Loughrea. Meet the parents. Nurses, farmers, childcare workers, engineers, taxidrivers, solicitors you name it.
    Then tell me whether they’re working class, middle class, or upper class.
    And what it all means.

  • Niall

    “Nurses, farmers, childcare workers, engineers, taxidrivers, solicitors you name it. Then tell me whether they’re working class, middle class, or upper class.”

    I’d say most of the occupations you’ve mentioned conform to the description in the original post of “upwardly mobile middle class”.

    I’m sure as gaeilscoileanna become more popular the backgrounds of students will become more diverse, and perhaps it is in that process already, but this has not historically been the case.