With the final touches being put into place for this year’s Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award ceremony, the painstaking job of adjudicating the 74 entries received for this year’s Schools Competition is also well underway.
“The students and teachers are very enthusiastic about this competition” says Competition Organiser Geraldine McHugh from the Donegal County Council Library Service.
“The theme of the competition is the Donegal Diaspora and the life and work of Tip O’Neill. Students can submit their entries in the form of essay, art or poetry. Teachers and students talk about the competition in very enthusiastic terms. While working on their entries for the competition, students learn about the life and work of Tip O’ Neill and young students are often amazed to discover that the ancestors of Tip O’Neill came from a neighbouring townland”.
Geraldine explains that “teachers report how the story of Tip O’Neill and his grandmother, Eunice Fullerton touches the imagination of young people and inspires them to produce great work for the competition. The competition also gives children a great opportunity to express themselves through art, essay and poetry and teachers are always keen to ensure their students can avail of this opportunity”.
Three schools in the Buncrana area take part in this competition which was initiated in 2012 as one of a number of activities to mark the centenary of the birth of the renouned Tip O’Neill. Scoil Naomh Pádraig, Drumfries, Saint Oran’s National School, Cockhill and Scoil Íosagáin, Buncrana have submitted 74 entries between them this year and to date, 412 young people have taken part in the competition.
Geraldine believes that this competition has become a very important part of the school year for these participating schools and says “the competition is important for numerous reasons. It gives young people in Inishowen a chance to reflect on issues related to the Donegal Diaspora and the life and work of Tip O’Neill. In thinking about these topics they learn about numerous matters which have impacted on their own history including, the famine, emigration, the peace process and Donegal’s place in the world. After the process of reflection, the children go on to produce imaginative works including stories and poems of emigration and adventure, pictures of planes, ships, the high seas and of course Tip O’Neill”.
This year Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe Mc Hugh, T.D. will present the 2016 Tip O’Neill Irishowen Primary Schools Competition awards at a special event in Scoil Naomh Pádraig, Drumfries at 2pm on Friday 23 September.
Members of Tip O’Neill’s family will also attend this event which has become a very special event for the family who visit Buncrana each year to celebrate the Irish Diaspora Award in memory of their father and grandfather.