Brave faces as little ones head to class
IT'S been a week of tearful goodbyes, brave faces and new discoveries as four- and five-year-olds across the country experienced their first days at school.
But one tiny national school in Co Westmeath has had an especially busy week.
That's because six out of the 14 children who started at St Baithin's school in Loughnavalley are twins.
Three sets of twins sat down for their first lessons yesterday.
The mother of one set, Fiona Cunningham, said her sons James and Shane loved their first day and didn't shed a tear between them.
"I asked them how they got on and they said great. They had each other and it was that little bit easier for them," she said.
In Co Meath, meanwhile, the principal of the country's newest school described yesterday as "mental, but fantastic".
"There were a couple of tears, but mainly from the parents -- the parents are always worse," said Tricia Ni Mhaolagain of the first day at Gaelscoil na Mi, the newest multi-denominational gaelscoil in Ireland.
The tiny school, which is housed in prefabs at a local GAA club, has 18 students in each of its two classes.
"It's great, it means that they have much more one-to-one interaction with the teacher, which is hugely important at that age," Ms Ni Mhaolagain said.
The school adopts a total immersion approach to the Irish language, she said, adding that "most of them have no Irish but it makes absolutely no difference -- from day one they never hear any English".
"It works because they are immersed in it. They are like little sponges and they pick up the words straight away."
It hasn't been as harmonious everywhere though. In Co Cavan, up to 10 sub-contractors are due to stage a second day of protests outside Laragh National School over claims that they have not yet been paid for work they carried out.
The electricians, plasterers, builders and plumbers blocked off the entrance to the school yesterday morning.
Last night the board of management said it had paid the main contracting company in full and on time and that the sub-contractors' grievance is with the main contractor and not with the school.