Plans are being laid in Gaelscoil de hÍde in Fermoy to forge links with a primary school on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat.
The island is described as the ‘Emerald Isle of the Caribbean’ and given that it’s the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, it’s timely that the date set for contact between the two schools via Skype has been set for Wednesday, March 12.
It’ll be the first time such a call has taken place between the children of the two islands. A group of singers from the island, the ‘Emerald Singers’ visited Fermoy a number of years ago.
The initiative has been brought about by Fermoy resident Graham Clifford, a feature writer with the Irish Independent and a regular contributor to the Sunday Business Post. Graham will be in Montserrat working on a number of media projects and he’ll be organising the Skype call from that side.
Graham, who is from Glenbeigh in Co Kerry and his wife Catherine, a GP with Dr Charles McCarthy’s medical practice, settled in Fermoy in mid 2012 after living in England for eight years. Their two daughters Molly, 7, and Aoife, 5, are pupils at at Gaelscoil de hÍde.
Montserrat’s population is described as ‘Afro-Irish’, from a combination of Irish and African slaves/labourers sent there against their will over the years. The school, St Augustine, has been educating the children of Montserrat for over 135 years.
Graham told The Avondhu this week: “The principle aim of this Skype call between the two ‘Emerald Isles’ is to teach the children in Fermoy what it’s like to grow up in Montserrat and vice versa. I know that many of our kids here are fascinated that the children in Montserrat live each day in the shadow of an active volcano and directly in the Caribbean hurricane belt.”
Both sets of children on either side of the Atlantic are busy preparing for their online introduction to each other, he said. “The classes will be preparing for St Patrick’s Day in a similar way so they can sing songs for each other, show projects that they are working on and read poems they’ve written to mark the occasion,” he explained, revealing that he is also hoping to hand over some St Patrick’s Day cards made for the children in Montserrat by the children in Fermoy.
“It would be great if this first St. Patrick’s Day call could become an annual event,” he said.
The Catholic priest in Montserrat is Fr George Agger from Cobh. He’ll help the children there prepare for the call on March 12.