Parents residing in Dublin housing estates are in desperate need of playgroups for their preschool children.
In the 1970s the Ballymun housing estate looks like a factory complex rather than a housing estate. In some respects the towers create more problems than they solve. There are no play areas to provide an outlet for children. Parents are afraid their children will fall from a height and must be extremely vigilant at all times.
The play centres that do exist in Dublin are similar in providing children with swings, sand pits and facilities for football and tennis.
Breffni Doyle is known to many from presenting the RTÉ Television children's show 'Triopal Treapal' but she is a Montessori teacher with considerable experience in pre-school playgroups. She set up and runs the playgroup in the Civics Institute at Ventry Park in Cabra. The Catholic Social Welfare Bureau has a similar group in Ballyfermot.
The playgroup is not aimed at the affluent; it assists mothers unable to cope with young children in small houses or in flats. Children attending the group not only play, but they also learn tasks to make them more independent and develop skills which will help them when they start school.
The playgroup gives mothers freedom from the children for three hours a day, five days a week. One woman says has a daughter attending the playgroup and says it gives her a break and enables her to get on with the housework and go to the shops.
Another woman is also enthusiastic about Breffni Doyle's playgroup,
It’s a great idea since it opened up now the children have come on very well they’re learing to speak properly and they’re helping to mix with other children and it helps to break them in for when they’re going to school.
Principal of St Enda’s Vocational School in Cabra Éamonn de Búrca (Edmund Burke) discusses the importance of pre-schools for 3-6 year olds. According to educationalists these years are the most impressionable in a child’s life. Rather than formal education, children of this age benefit more from being a playgroup setting.
Rather than the ad hoc system currently in place, Breffni Doyle would like to see a state organised national system of nursery schools for children between the ages of 3-5.
A 'Féach’ report broadcast on 29 June 1970. The reporter is Eamonn Ó Muirí.