AFTER an absence of a number of years, a large group of primary school student teachers will come to Gaoth Dobhair for the Easter holidays in order to improve their Irish.
More than 130 students from the St Patrick’s and Marino teacher training colleges in Dublin have enrolled at Coláiste Chú Chulainn for two weeks, following a successful proposal from the directors of the Derrybeg school.
One of the directors, former Donegal star Kevin Cassidy, explained to the Donegal News that this will be the first time in a number of years that student teachers will come to the Gaoth Dobhair Gaeltacht.
“For a number of years, up to 450 students from the main teacher training colleges spent their Easter break improving their Irish in Galway and Kerry,” Mr Cassidy said.
“However, there has been a change to the format, where the majority of the students would have gone to one Gaeltacht. This year it was decided to despatch students in blocks of up to 150, instead of the full 450.
“We were invited to make an application and we made a good pitch. As a result, we will have more than 130 student teachers coming to Coláiste Chú Chulainn.”
Mr Cassidy said this was a major coup for their college and the local economy.
“This is good for us, but it is massive for the local area in terms of employment and revenue. We will be employing around eight teachers and the students will also be staying in up to a dozen homes locally. The whole idea is that the students can immerse themselves in the Irish language and culture by staying in the local community.”
Chairman of Gweedore Chamber of Commerce, Mr Eamon McBride, described the news as a great boost to the local economy.
“It’s been a few years since we had student teachers, and they are badly needed,” he said.
“It is also great to see this natural resource, that is the Irish language, can be used to boost local tourism and the economy. I hope this programme takes off and continues to grow,” concluded Mr McBride.