To complete our Christmas concert in @Garrymore the pupils sang Daidí na Nollag, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Do You Hear What I Hear?, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas Everyone. The children performed so well and we are all very proud of them.
Over the past couple of months the pupils in the Senior Room have been exploring local, national and international history from the 1920s to 1940s with a particular focus on World War II. This play is about William Joyce who was born in America in 1906 but brought up in Ballinrobe from the age of three. His family owned a pub called ‘Joyce’s’ in Ballinrobe and were pro-British.
The play outlines the story of how William Joyce went from acting as a courier for the Black and Tans during the War of Independence to being awarded a Cross of War medal by Hitler. Joyce had a show on Nazi radio called Germany Calling which was listened to by over 6 million people in Ireland and the UK. After World War II Joyce was captured.
The first scene of our play is set at his trial in the Old Bailey Court, London, 1945. He was tried as a traitor to the British Crown. The lawyer charged with his defence is Mr. Slade and the lawyer for the prosecution is Mr. Byrne. Some lines used in the play are from actual court transcripts.
Through a series of ‘exhibits’ or flash-backs, the play depicts the swing era – roughly from the late 1920s to mid 40s – which was the time in which William Joyce grew up. While the teenage Swedish climate advocate, Greta Thunberg, was announced Time Person of the Year in 2019, the Time Man of the Year in 1938 was Adolf Hitler.
The following scene depicts the rise of the German Army in the 1930s (Erika was a famous marching song of the wehrmacht) leading eventually to the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, declaring war on Germany following the invasion of Poland in September, 1939.
Next, the prosecution introduces an actual recording of William Joyce celebrating the fall of Belgium and Holland on his Nazi radio programme, Germany Calling.
Then, we are taken back to Joyce’s pub in 1939 where talk is all about Ballyglass club, as it was known then, changing its name to Garrymore. This made it possible to field players from Roundfort Parish and Tom Murphy, Alyssa’s (fourth class) and Gavin’s (third class) great-grandfather was the first chairman. By 1939 Mayo have won their sixth league title in a row and have drawn against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final. The replay will be held just over a week after the outbreak of WWII.
Other talk in Joyce’s pub reflects worries about rationing, paraffin and porter! The final scene in a Ballinrobe kitchen hears the announcement on wireless (radio) by the then Taoiseach, Éamonn deValera, that Ireland will stay out of the war and remain neutral.
The judge in the Old Bailey is not impressed with the amount of drink shown in the defence’s flash-back and Mr. Byrne, William Joyce’s defence counsel, moves to safer ground by introducing Delia Murphy, a contemporary of William Joyce, as a character witness. Delia Murphy went to school in Gortskehy and was a singer of international renown. During WWII she helped Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, in the Vatican, save the lives of 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews, as her husband, Dr. Thomas Kiernan, was the Irish Ambassador in Rome at the time. Delia Murphy and her friends, represented by the pupils, sing the Spinning Wheel as a lament and longing for a loved one away from home.
William Joyce himself leads the final song and most famous of WWII, Lili Marlene. It’s a German love song of the Second World War that was translated into many languages and wherever it was sung the soldiers on both sides loved it.
Will the singing influence the judge in any way? You’ll just have to watch the video below and see!
Last week, we celebrate Creative Schools Week (4th – 8th November). This was an opportunity to showcase, celebrate and share our creative work that is being undertaken in the school this year to date. Our key focus within Creative Schools is Music.
This year, our 4th, 5th and 6th classes are taking part in the “Ceilí Ukulele” programme which is run by Music Generation Mayo.
Céilí Ukulele is designed as a 28-week programme over the academic year, with weekly lessons of 60 minutes’ duration. Over the course of a full academic year, students will aim to learn 15+ songs & 20+ melodies on the ukulele, as well as honing their performance skills through regular group practice and performance. Each week, our specialist Music Generation Mayo musician-tutor, Keif, visits the school to provide whole-class tuition designed to engage and excite students about playing the ukulele and singing accompanying songs.
We have completed 8 weeks and have learnt so much already.
Here is a video of our talented pupils performing a song accompanied by the ukulele:
Sixth Class (2019/20)
Today we celebrate World Bee Day – 20th May 2019
Did You Know?
- Irish Bumblebee populations are in decline.
- One third of our 99 bee species are threatened with extinction from Ireland. This is because we have drastically reduced the amount of food (flowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes.
- In response this decline and threat of extinction, the National Biodiversity Data Centre coordinated the implementation of the an All Ireland Pollinator Plan( 2015-2020) along with 68 other government and non-government organisations as partners to support the plan.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners and businesses, coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive. Here at Gortskehy, we are committed to playing our part and making our school bee-friendly.
The middle room studied the Junior Pollinator Plan with their teacher, Ms. Thomas. They learnt all about bees and their important role as pollinators. They also learnt about the life cycle of the bumble bee & what we can do to help our bees survive and thrive.
Our school Pollinator & Green School Teams drew maps of the current school grounds. This was done to identify areas where we can take action to help pollinators. Lots of good ideas that we hope to put into action were noted by our pupils on the walkabout:
- Plant bee-friendly plants in our garden beds.
- Leave narrow strips around our pitch for wildflowers
- Mow our lawn/pitch less frequently – to allow dandelions and clover to grow – food sources for our bees.
- Reduce pesticides – only use it for clearing slippery areas/paths. Only weed by hand.
- Plant a herb bed – they are an excellent source of food for pollinators.
These maps will be updated to include all the pollinator areas we will develop around our school. We will monitor and report on bee activity and update our plans annually.
Here are some photos of our pupils planting bee-friendly plants, flowers and herbs in our new Sensory & Biodiversity garden.
For more information on what you can do to help the bees – please visit http://pollinators.ie/
Over the last few months Cathal & Evan two pupils from 5th class took part in the NUI Galway Youth Academy spring programme. This was a wonderful opportunity for the pupils to gain an insight into college learning. Evan studied Biotechnology & Biomedical Engineering – “Biolegos: Engineering with the Building Blocks of Life“, and Cathal studied all about the Irish law system “The World of Cops and Robbers: Learning the Law”. Evan informed our class that he really enjoyed the course and over the 6 week programme they covered many topics about the human body including DNA, bacteria & repairing broken bones. Evan also had to opportunity to complete some experiments. Evan’s course took place in the new Engineering building on the NUI Galway campus. Cathal informed the class that he looked at many aspects of the law throughout his course including jurors, cases and identifying what the world would be like if there were no laws. At the end of each day they would have a competition to see who could remember the most laws. The course helped Cathal understand a lot more about the legal system in Ireland. Cathal’s course took place in the Millennium building on the NUI Galway campus. We would like to congratulate both pupils for taking part in the course.
It was a fun-filled week in Croatia – visiting Zagreb Zoo, Bundek lake and park by the Sava River, Veternica Cave at Park Prirode, Medvednica, Nikola Tesla Museum and coal mines.
The pupils introduced their Croatian friends to Irish dancing and football. We cannot thank our hosts enough (teachers, parents and pupils) for their huge amount of work in preparing such a memorable trip and taking care of Aoife, Cathal, Evan, Kellyann and Ruby.
Thanks also to Michelle Gannon for accompanying us and being such a great help. The video linked to this article shows the broad range of activities that the pupils took part in during the week.
Members of the Croatian Red Cross came to the school and gave a First Aid demonstration in the yard. They painted injuries on Cathal, Evan, Kellyann and Ruby who acted as the injured parties. Aoife can sometimes be allergic to body paint so she joined her Croatian friends and watched the demonstration.