Although there are four schools in Ballymun, a satellite town in north Dublin, a group of local parents have started a campaign to set up the first Irish-medium school in the area.
When the Ballymun housing scheme was completed in 1970, there were more houses erected in this one area than anywhere else in Ireland or in Britain. Ballymun resident and advocate for an Irish school Brendan Pringle is convinced there is a demand for such a school. However, the Department of Education and the local Irish-speaking priest have not been supportive of the campaign.
We haven’t received anything definite from the Department of Education, nothing in writing. We don’t seem to have the support of the parish priest, he seems to be against the idea of an Irish school starting in the area, although he has mentioned streaming.
With a disused school in the area, there is a chance for the school to go ahead but further issues arise when parents of children near to Ballymun but not in the specific parish also want their children to attend the school. Some heated meetings follow, such as one in the Crofton Hotel with
Gaeilgeoirí forbairteacha ag eisceant le Gaeilgeoirí aitheanta, Gaeilgeoirí ag plé fadhbanna na Gaeilge i mBearla ar mhaithe le daoine gan Gaeilge.
Not everyone believes the blame lies with the priest Fr Donal O’Scannell. One man interviewed says the Irish movement should be blaming the Department of Education or the Government who do not seem to want to establish the school. It is the system that is at fault, not the priest who is doing his best.
At the end of the day, the Irish speaking hierarchy cannot be one side complaining about the Ballymun parents. At the same time, the problem facing the Irish movement is how to establish their Irish-medium school, given the major social problems facing Ballymun.
A number of Ballymun residents voice their opinions on the inadequate facilities and recreational areas for children with one resident saying
It gets in on ye, when you’re stuck up like and you look down and you can’t let them out and they’re crying, you feel like throwing yourself out as well.
A ‘Féach’ report by Eamonn O’ Muirí broadcast on 18 October 1971.