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12 Jul 2016

The dust may barely have settled on Armagh’s biggest Irish Language Summer Camp, but already the tributes are pouring in. Parents, relatives, children and teachers have inundated social media networks with tributes to the organisers of Campa Mhacha 2016 – the only all-Irish summer camp in Armagh City. Based at Eamhain Mhacha / The Navan Centre, the camp is organised by Irish language collective, CAIRDE Teo. Attracting almost 80 children from Irish medium primary schools in the area, the Camp is now in its tenth year of existence and organisers have expressed delight at the overwhelming response to this year’s event.

The primary aim of Campa Mhacha is to encourage local children to use their command of spoken Irish outside the school environment. Due to the growth in numbers applying to participate, Campa Mhacha was this year divided into two different sub-camps and children were allocated their places within Camp based upon their age group. Children attending Rang 1 to Rang 3 attended Campa 1, while pupils from Rang 4 to Rang 7 attended Campa 2.

While the main centre of activities for the 2014 Camp was Eamhain Mhacha/The Navan Centre, Campa Mhacha also offered opportunities for the children to participate in activities as diverse as a tour of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, an Irish language tour of the GPO in Dublin to commemorate the 1916 centenary, horse and carriage rides, a day trip to Tannaghmore Gardens and Animal Farm, a Celtic Warrior School at Navan and a fun day at Hugglebugs. As if that wasn’t enough the children also had the opportunity to enjoy instruction in hurling and camogie with Rónán Mac Liam, Celtic arts and crafts workshops, nature trails, treasure hunts and a host of other activities.  All workshops, activities and interaction with the children were delivered through the medium of Irish.

On the final day of Camp, the children worked with teachers and musicians to prepare a concert performance for families and guests to round off Campa Mhacha 2016. Families, siblings and friends joined the children in the Theatre at the Navan Centre for a show that no one will ever forget. In a first for the Camp, the children performed a specially commissioned Irish language song that expressed their obvious enthusiasm for the Camp. The song was composed by Camp Leader Mícheál Ó hAodha who himself was a big hit with all the children.

In recent years CAIRDE Teo has taken responsibility for coordination and delivery of Campa Mhacha. Team Campa Mhacha is staffed by professional teachers, youth workers and a community development team with many years of experience in delivering recreational projects for young people. All camp staff are fully qualified and trained to professional standards and all are vetted in accordance with legislation.

The Camp receives partial financial assistance from the Education Authority Youth Service and Foras na Gaeilge. CAIRDE Teo would like to offer their thanks to the all the Camp teachers and assistants, to Máire, to Hugglebugs, to Johnny Fee and friends, to the staff at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, to Méabh, Pádraig and the staff at the GPO. The Irish language group also express their gratitude to the Navan Centre, especially Damian, Rosaleen and Fergus the Warrior, and to Jerome McCarthy and Neil from Jerome’s Coach Hire. They extend a special thanks also to local musician Eoin Ó Ceallaigh who visited the Camp to present awards and take part in the concert.

Finally, CAIRDE would also like to say a huge thank you to all of the children who took part in the Camp and who contributed so much in terms of their participation, joy, enthusiasm and energy. Maith sibh a pháistí agus bainaigí úsáid as an Ghaeilge ar fud an samhraidh.