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New Tourmakeady Principal feels compulsory Irish is crucial to education

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New Principal feels compulsory Irish is ‘crucial to education’


Anton McNulty

The new Principal of Coláiste Muire Secondary School in Tourmakeady believes that the Irish language raises the self-esteem of students and he hopes it remains a compulsory Leaving Cert subject.
Liam Ó Ruáin became the Principal of Coláiste Muire in Tourmakeady in September, and while the first month has been ‘challenging and busy’, he admits he is enjoying his role in the Principal’s seat.
A native Irish speaker from Aughleam in Blacksod, Liam succeeded Seán Ó Mainnín who was the acting-Principal following the retirement of the previous Principal, Déaglán de Priondargás. Having previously taught Engineering and Drawing in St Tiernan’s College in Crossmolina for the past six years, he believed it was the right time to take a step up to a management role in education.
“It was a big decision to go for the job,” he told The Mayo News. “I enjoy the management side of the school and used to work in Coláiste Uisce in Elly Bay during the summer and was a principal for two week courses.
“Everyday is a challenge, there is always something happening each day but I am enjoying it so far. There are challenges ahead for the school but it is a great school and the location is fantastic around the lake.”

Two Irish secondary schools
Coláiste Muire, one of only two Irish speaking secondary schools in the county, currently has 160 pupils enrolled for the coming year. While the majority come from the Tourmakeady area, Liam says they also have students from Westport, Castlebar Ballintubber and Killawalla areas.
Irish is the spoken language in the school with the subjects taught through Irish and Liam sees the benefits of learning through Irish has on the pupils.
“Some of the students come from outside Tourmakeady and would not be fluent Irish speakers but once they are totally immersed in it, it is easier for them. I saw it when I worked in Coláiste Uisce. We had students with little Irish at the beginning but they could go home speaking Irish and would continue to speak it at home. Their train of thought would be in Irish because they were immersed in it.
“I would see the benefits to students of having their education through Irish. It raises their self esteem and it becomes much easier for them to learn another language. I would definitely hope Irish continues as a compulsory subject because I think it is important. The language is very much part of the Irish culture,” he explained.
As well as being the Principal, Liam also teaches ICT and thanked the local community for their welcome to the school. For the moment, Liam says he is happy to work with the teachers and staff before making any changes to the school and is looking forward to the remainder of the year ahead.

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