Foreigners Fitting In At Ballyvaughan

Clare Champion, Friday, 15th October 1999

Ballyvaughan, like other parts of Clare, has welcomed its share of foreigners and outsiders from other parts of Ireland. They have been attracted by its peace and tranquility and, above all, its beauty and the panoramic views of Galway Bay and the famous Burren area.

And as well as contributing to the local economy, the new families have boosted the roll numbers at the local national school where there are two teachers, Eamon O'Loughlin, Principal, who is a native of Ballyvaughan and Dymphna Hyland, who is married to Jim Hyland of Hylands Hotel, the long established hotel in Ballyvaughan. They are looking after a total of 59 school children.

Eamon O'Loughlin said that from time to time they have been teaching various foreigners, including French, German and Danes and among the pupils at the present time are twin sisters from Italy, Lena and Lisa Dietl, who are ten years old. Their parents have established the Holywell Language Centre in nearby Newtown. The Italian twins have fitted in well, as have all non-nationals, and Eamon says that they are now as fluent in English and Irish as any of the pupils in their school. He says that they don't have any big language barriers or difficulties at Ballyvaughan school as all of the foreign students have some background of English and are able to cope with the system.

He is hoping that the Department of Education will sanction a third teacher for the school as Dymphna Hyland is responsible for 36 pupils, a number which is far too many for one teacher to manage, he said. If they are successful in acquiring an extra teacher, they will have to make a third classroom available. However, they already have a spare room which is being used as a library organised by a group of parents. Some of the books have been donated by parents and others have been purchased by the school. He praised parents who have organised and supported sales to raise money in aid of the library.

A welcome appointment to the school is that of a remedial teacher. Many schools in Clare and most other counties have been campaigning for remedial teachers for years but now the Department of Education has moved to meet their demands. Eamon O'Loughlin said they welcomed the appointment of the remedial teacher for Ballyvaughan school which caters for local pupils and for pupils from the Blackhead and Muckinish areas.

The Ballyvaughan area has also played its role in keeping Irish traditional music alive and the tradition will live on as far as the local national school is concerned. A teacher comes to the pupils each week to give them lessons on the tin whistle and the pupils eagerly look forward to this.

And there is another side to Ballyvaughan school as it links up on occasions with pupils from the College of Art in Newtown who are pursuing a course to become art teachers. The art pupils are facilitated in the national school where they carry out some of their work with the Ballyvuaghan pupils. Many of the visitors to the area often take in a visit to Ballyvuaghan school where they are made welcome.

Recently the school opened its arms to a group of American photographers form Phoenix, the city which is twinned with Ennis. They spent an afternoon in the school and loaned their cameras to their pupils to take photographs. The phtographers all took their own pictures and they will be sending them back to Ballyvaughan school via the internet.

So it's not too much of a bore after all for Ballyvuaghan pupils. They are luckier than most as they have a variety of side line attractions to help shorten school hours.

The present school was built in 1949 and replaces the old school erected in 1854 in the Galway Road end of the village. It has been converted into the local community centre and was officially opened on January 27th, 1992, by Mrs. Mary Robinson, when she was President of Ireland.

Arianna Johnson and Leanne Fahy about
to have lunch at Ballyvaughan N.S.
Rosanne Choker out playing with
her friends at Ballyvaughan N.S.

Photographs by John Kelly, Clare Champion.

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