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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2016) . . Page.. 97 ..

The curriculum theme of the summer school was to prepare students of the Irish language to take the Teastas Eorpach na Gaelige, or the TEG exam, an internationally recognised qualification. Cultural activities offered to participants were those of Irish dancing, singing, and playing of the Irish drums, bodhrans, and the craic, Irish for good times, as well as Irish scriptwriting and old Irish as a language.

At the 2015 Daonscoil in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Kaaren Sephton was invited by the Irish Language Association of Australia to explore the possibility of holding a summer school in Canberra. Being convinced that such a summer school would be a success, Kaaren formed a small team and organised the Scoil Teanga for 2016. It is the role of the Irish Language Association of Australia to select the location for the 2017 summer school. Irish summer schools in Australia, or the Scoil Samhraidh na hAstraile, are held annually in Australia.

In 1993 a relatively newly arrived Irishman named Mairtin O Dubhlaigh, better known as Martin O’Dooley, had been doing much to help teach and preserve Irish in Sydney and decided that a two-week intensive summer school would be a great idea. Largely singlehandedly, Martin organised the Scoil Samhradh na hAstraile, the summer school of Australia, to be held on a rural property, Nanangroe, in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains near Tumut. He chose this location as it is reasonably accessible to both Sydney and Melbourne, and the event attracted around 30 keen Irish speakers from all over Australia and a couple of notable tourists from Ireland.

The event was a great success and encouraged Martin to continue with the Scoil in the second half of January each year. The school was located at Nanangroe for four years from 1994 to 1997, then moved to Carcoar, west of Bathurst, around 250 kilometres from Sydney, starting in 1998, when it became clear that with lesser demand from Melbourne it made sense to move the event closer to Sydney. Dwindling demand resulted in the last Scoil Samhradh na hAstraile in Carcoar in the year 2000.

Following the success of the Scoil Samhradh na hAstraile, the Cumann Gaelige na hAstraile, the Irish Language Association of Australia, resolved to run their own summer school as a more accessible event for their Melbourne members. The first event, called the Scoil Samhradh Gariwerd, was held in the Grampians in the Western District of Victoria in November 1995. It was successful enough to encourage the organisers, and so it was run again about a year later, in the second half of January 1997, in south Gippsland. In 1998 the event was moved, again in Gippsland. It was subsequently moved to venues around Bacchus Marsh, only 16 kilometres west of Melbourne.

For 2016 the Cumann passed to the new ACT team to carry on the Daonscoil in Canberra. The Canberra team formed the Canberra Irish Language Association and held the first event in January this year. Over the four days, as I have said, it was a great success with around 65 participants.

There is a long history of Irish being spoken in Australia. Father Michael O’Sullivan began calling for events in New South Wales equivalent to those which were being held in Victoria. In 2003 Marcas de Faoite, Mark White as he is in English, took up the challenge and set up a summer school also in Sydney.

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