Debate in the Galway town of Ballinasloe over the teaching of all school subjects through the medium of the Irish language.

Controversy over the teaching of subjects through Irish at St Grellans National School in Ballinasloe, County Galway has resulted in a referendum amongst the parents.

St Grellans has traditionally been a school where all subjects were taught through the Irish language. However, a group of parents has come together to lobby to change this so that the boys at the school will now be taught in English. 

As a result of the demands of parents, a referendum was organised by the school manager Rev Father Dunne in which 83 per cent of parents voted. 

The result would mean if implemented, that the boys would have Irish only as a half hour class like any other subject.

The parents claim that their children are having difficulty learning subjects through Irish. To add to this, many parents find it difficult to help their children with homework when the books are in Irish. 

Ballinasloe, with a population of five thousand, has all its street names in Irish, signs of a vigorous revival policy at one stage of its life.

However, there are anomalies in the language revival situation in the town as pupils at the local girls' national school are taught through English but continue their secondary education through Irish at the local convent school. The boys from St Grellans continue their secondary education at St Joseph's Secondary School. 

Reporter John O'Donoghue speaks to parents and former pupils on both sides of the debate. 

I have a terrible mania about the education of boys. I think a boys education is very important, far more important than a girls.

I don't think that teaching through the medium of Irish has been detrimental.

This isn't a sacred subject.

It is too bad at this hour of our life that Ballinasloe is to be tarnished as a town that opted for English instead of Irish.

This episode of 'Seven Days' was broadcast on 20 September 1968. The reporter is John O'Donoghue.