by Jerry Early, Arranmore Island, Donegal
I met a group of teenagers on my walk today and it got me thinking of how my Sunday’s were at their age. Honestly I can’t remember many good ones, summer Sunday’s were great but during the school year I was either in Boarding school or on my way to School. I was not alone as up to a 130 of us were forced to leave the island to further our education sometimes for 3 weeks to a month at a time, the lads and some of the girls went to Falcarragh
(lads went to Holy cross College) May it burn and rot in hell.
Some girls went to the Franciscan convent Falcarragh but the majority went to Loreto Milford. I can only imagine how hard it must have been on our parents because really they were losing us at a very young age.
Thankfully we had strong parents and activists on the island who fought and fought hard for us to get our own Secondary school.
Inish Mór of the Aran Islands had one despite having less school goers than us but as usual up here we weren’t treated equally but our activists keep fighting and in the late 80s the Government gave in and we got our School- Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmuda.
We Moved home the same year that it opened 1990 and the moral of the island was through the roof,
Families were together and teenagers were on the roads daily,
( never underestimate the energy young people bring to a place)
I know I speak for 90% of the young couples who moved home or moved here that only for the school we would not have settled.
So almost 30 years later the Gairmscoil has gone from strength to strength, many of the original teachers are still teaching and so so many of its ex pupils have gone on to have great career’s,
The curriculum can be taught thro English or Gaelic
(Sean ó Loingean) take a bow.
I remember about 10/12 years ago a young lady came to the island from the mainland to repeat her leaving, that was a game changer big time as today up to 60 young teenagers come daily from the Tir Mór to attend school on the island.
So instead of young people leaving in tears
We have young people coming with smiles,
Lifelong friendships are forming Daily,
Kinda says it all,
Remember the song Flight of earls?
Planes go both ways.
So do Ferries.
As you can see from my pictures the views are not bad either.
Well done to those who fought for our school as you not only got a School yous saved our island.
Thank you all.👏👏
Couldn’t stop thinking of my Dear friend Patsy Dan who sadly lost his fight with cancer.
Patsy fought hard for his Island for years sometimes a lone voice but he was always heard.
You fought well my Friend RIP.
Jerry Early (on the right, below) is a fisherman, founding member of IIMRO (Irish Islands Marine Resources Org), member of Comhdhail Oileain na hEireann, publican,musician and fighter for Islanders rights.