There was great excitement in the Midlands Park Hotel, Portlaoise on Monday evening last, 11th March, when over 400 teachers, principals, parents, grandparents and pupils converged to celebrate the publication of 698 books written in Irish by 722 pupils from 12 schools in the Midlands (Laois, Offaly, Kildare and North Tipperary) in the Scríobh Leabhar 2019 project. They were among the 1000s of primary school pupils throughout the island of Ireland who were inspired again this year to use their creative skills and compose, design and publish their very own book in Irish as part of Foras na Gaeilge’s Scríobh Leabhar project. This exciting project is co-ordinated in the midlands by Laois Education Centre.
Since its launch in the 2006/2007 school year, tens of thousands of pupils have participated in the Scríobh Leabhar project nationally. As part of this initiative, children not only write their own books, but they also have the opportunity to read and discuss stories written by children in other schools. Teachers are the backbone of the Scríobh Leabhar project, encouraging and motivating their pupils, helping with the design and production of the books and engaging with Laois Education Centre around the logistics of such a huge project.
The Scriobh Leabhar project links the curricular areas of Visual Arts, and Gaeilge, while also promoting integration with practically every other curricular area for teacher and pupil. It is a particularly valuable tool for teachers to develop pupil creative writing and develop oral language skills through the medium of Irish.
Guest of Honour on Monday night was Niall de Búrca, one of Ireland’s finest traditional storytellers. He has featured in theatre, radio and at many festivals including Féile Earraai, the CS Lewis Festival, and The National Children’s Book Festival. Abroad he has performed and held workshops in countries as diverse as Poland, Argentina, Italy and The Netherlands. He is recognised for the diversity of his stories and his particular strength is he has an ability to reach all ages and in fact with the same story; Niall is a familiar figure to many Irish children through his innovative school programmes. His “Storytelling as a Tool of Education” workshops are highly recommended by educators. In May 2002 he received a Medal of Excellence from the Heidleberg school district in Germany for his work with young authors. His version of Fionn and the Giant was a huge hit on the night for adults and children alike.
Laois Education Centre is delighted to be in a position to offer the Scriobh Leabhar project to schools. The quality and presentation of the books represented a very diverse range of topics all of which were beautifully and artistically illustrated. The programme is run completely through Irish, and we have had very positive feedback from the schools involved last year. Catherine Doolan, Director of Laois Education Centre, thanked her colleagues in the Education Centre who had done enormous work in co-ordinating and organizing the project in particular Yvonne LaCumber, who administered the project and Vladimir Pelageichev who was photographer on the night. She also thanked Marian Flanagan from the management committee of Laois Education Centre who acted as MC on the evening of the Awards Ceremony. Catherine also expressed ‘míle buíochas’ to Foras na Gaeilge for their support of the project and the principals and teachers who supported their pupils, read other class books and helped with recommending awards.
In total, 109 pupils were presented with a medal and a certificate of participation on the evening and each of the 722 participating pupils received a certificate of participation and a Scriobh Leabhar pencil pack.