Kilrea Primary School

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Mainland Europe comes to Kilrea
















On Wednesday 25th March 2009 17 teachers travelled from throughout Europe to arrive in the small market town of Kilrea. The visitors were from Italy, Spain, Germany and Slovakia and although the welcome was warm the weather was less so. After an introductory dinner the guests retired to Portneal Lodge for a well earned rest before beginning an action packed few days.

Thursday was spent in and around the town and began with a welcome assembly in the school. As the project theme is ‘Preserving Our Worlds’ pupils performed traditional songs and dances including I’ll tell me Ma, Molly Malone and Danny Boy, the Gay Gordons and the Waves of Troy. P1 to 4 showed off their Spanish by singing the opening and closing songs and Mrs Stinson presented 50th Anniversary books to each partner school before the children taught everyone ‘The Bog Down in the Valley-Oh’.

The visitors took a tour of the school, to observe the classes, and pupils had the opportunity to ask questions and find out about the partner schools and countries. A group of pupils then braved the elements to plant a tree to mark the occasion.

After lunch, and the project meeting to plan the next activities, there was some time to explore the town and enjoy the sunshine before going to David and Ann Laughlin’s organic dairy farm. Kitted out in fetching blue boiler suits and white shoe covers the visitors descended on the milking parlour and were interested to hear how David had made his farm self-sufficient in electricity through the use of a windmill. He also explained how the dairy and beef cattle and his crops were raised without the use of any artificial pesticides or chemicals.

On Thursday night there was a little more culture in the form of David Linton playing the bagpipes and Lorraine Gordon and Charlotte Linton delighted the crowd with their Irish dancing. The visitors then tried a few of the traditional dances themselves before teaching us some songs from their countries.

On Friday the group were shown around Garvagh Secondary school by Mr Wilkins and Mrs Agnew and as well as finding out a lot about secondary education in Northern Ireland they also discovered Garvagh museum which a teacher had begun as a private collection of artefacts and is now a valuable social history resource for local schools. Following the tour they set off to see the Causeway coast including the famous Bushmills distillery, the oldest licensed distillery in the world. Unfortunately the sunshine disappeared before they reached the world heritage site of the Giant’s Causeway but they soldiered on regardless, returning from the stones more than a little wet and weary.

To warm them up they called in at Rosie’s Cottage, a private restoration project, to see how people in Ireland lived at the beginning of the last century and then enjoyed a cup of tea in Windmill Cottage where the owners explained how they had renovated the building using reclaimed and recycled materials.

Next morning the group set off for Dublin where they explored the city museums and tourist attractions before the long flight home on Sunday. All the participants agreed that their trip had been busy but enjoyable, had provided a wide range of new and interesting experiences and everyone is now looking forward to the next meeting in Slovakia.

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