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First place in the Ulster Regional Category of the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ All - Ireland Schools History Competition

Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh, Co. Tyrone achieves first place in the Ulster Regional Category of the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ All - Ireland Schools History Competition Minister for Training and Skills, Ciarán Cannon T.D., yesterday announced Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh, Co. Tyrone as 1st place winners in their Provincial Category in the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ All-Island schools history competition.

The title of the project submitted by Year 10M, Drumragh Integrated College is ‘The First World War in Omagh’.

This project focuses on the impact of World War One on Omagh. It estimates that approximately 330 local men lost their lives in the war. The project examines the extent to which WW1 was a shared war involving both communities in the area. It also focuses on life at home during WW1, including details of everyday life and how news (including news of fatalities) was reported from the battlefields. There is also a focus on individual stories such as three brothers, sons of William and Isabella McKeown from Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, who enlisted in the British Army at Omagh barracks. Only one of the brothers returned from the war. The project highlights the importance of commemoration of the past but draws a distinction between commemorating and celebrating past violence.

The schools history competition is a jointly funded initiative of the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland. This joint cross-border initiative forms part of the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ commemorations which are being organised to mark the centenary of the many important historical events that occurred in the period 1912-1922.

The competition invited primary and post primary students from schools across Ireland to examine the impact of a particular event or person from the decade 1912–1922 on their local area. Out of the 182 projects received, 12 winners were selected by a three person panel chaired by Professor Mary Daly of University College, Dublin.

The winning project by Scoil Choilmcille, a primary school in Termon, Co. Donegal, is entitled ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary - The Mystery of the Medal’. The project focused on a WW1 medal that was discovered in Donegal but traced back by the pupils concerned to the Hynes family in Tipperary.

As well as the overall winning project there were four provincial winners and seven other winners. The provincial winners came from 6th class in Scoil Mhuire, Moycullen Co. Galway; 5th Year pupils in Meánscoil Iognáid Rís in Naas; pupils in 5th and 6th class in Kilrossanty National School in Co. Waterford, and Year 10M pupils from Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

Minister Cannon praised the efforts of all of the winners, “Your work reflects very positively on yourselves as individuals and classes. It also reflects very well on your teachers and school communities who have clearly provided able support and encouragement to your efforts. I hope this competition has stimulated your passion for history that will stay with you forever.”

Minister Cannon also thanked everyone who had submitted a project to the competition for their efforts.

The overall winning entry received book tokens in the value of €1,250 along with a year’s subscription to History Ireland. An edited version of the overall winning project will also be considered for publication in History Ireland. All of the 12 winning projects will be published on-line on the Scoilnet website

 

Drumragh’s Moving Forward

 

In a court ruling on 15th May 2014, Judge Treacy largely upheld Drumragh’s case against the Minister of Education and the Department of Education.

 

The Education Minister’s refusal of Drumragh’s request to expand, in 2012, led to a court case where he and the Department of Education were held to account for their response to their legal duty to facilitate integrated education. The ruling by Judge Treacy re-emphasises the importance of the integrated vision. It sets things straight, for the good of us all. We are delighted that our voice has been heard, that sense has prevailed, and are convinced that this promises well for the future.

 

The ruling offers clarity in several important ways. For example, it affirms that integrated schools educate young people ‘from all backgrounds as equals’, and that they must be ‘integrated throughout’. Nothing less will do, nor will it qualify as integration. The ruling also reminds the Department of Education of its ‘need to be alive’ to its duty to facilitate and encourage integrated education ‘at all levels, including the strategic level’. In other words there is a legal duty to promote integration in our education system. This includes planning for the future.

 

In a society that is scarred and struggling toward real peace, it seems completely obvious that they should be educated together – all day, every day. A central goal of integrated education is the transformation of young people’s hearts and minds. This is achieved by actively helping them to respect difference and encouraging them to form friendships that break down barriers. It’s not always easy, but it matters. And so we shape a future that includes tolerance, peace and healing.

 

This ruling creates hope. It is not a victory over anyone, it is a victory for everyone. This is quite simply great news. I am deeply grateful to the Integrated Education Fund, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, the Public Interest Litigation Support Project and our excellent barrister, to the staff, students, parents and governors of Drumragh Integrated College, and to the MLAs who have supported us in this journey. Here’s to the future.

 

Nigel Frith

Principal of Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh

 

 

 

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