Debra takes prestigious Irish award
There was double cause for celebration for Mastergeehy woman Debra Ní Shúilleabháin on Friday; not only did she graduate with a Masters in Primary Education, she also received the Gael Linn Gaeilge Award at a conferring ceremony in the Convention Centre, Dublin, in recent days.
Having began her studies with online third-level institution Hibernia College in 2016, she was among some 800 students to qualify in primary or post-primary teaching and celebrated her graduation recently.
She teaches at Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in Glanmire, and as a further indication of her commitment to the language, she has worked as a development officer in Munster's Gaeltachtaí. She also has an undergraduate degree in An Ghaeilge agus na Meáin Úra (Irish and New Media).
With all that considered, she was a worthy winner of the Gael Linn prize and was in reflective mood on her journey leading up to her graduation.
"I have had teaching at the back of my mind for many years, and I finally bit the bullet in 2016 and applied to Hibernia college," she said.
"I have worked with young people in many capacities over the past decade, and having enjoyed that experience thoroughly, I felt it was time to do what had been in my head for years."
She credits her mother for fostering her love of Irish and focused on the implementation of the Education Policy in her native south Kerry Gaeltacht of Uíbh Ráthach.
It strengthened her belief that education is key to the future of the language, particularly in Gaeltacht areas, where the language has been particularly vulnerable to decline according to recent censuses. Now she is looking forward to combining her loves of teaching and Irish in times ahead.
"I am in the happy position of having a job in Gaelscoil Uí Drisceoil in County Cork, and I am thoroughly enjoying it," she said.
"I am delighted to have the opportunity to teach through Gaeilge with my fellow teachers, whom are equally devoted to Gaeilge."