Primary school children all over Co. Mayo are set to receive special visitors to their schools – their own grandparents.
A grandmother is spearheading a campaign to establish Grandparents’ Day in the county’s primary schools, and already it has been backed by former Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain.
Under the novel scheme, grandparents will be invited to spend time in school with their grandchildren.
“This will be a valuable and worthwhile learning experience linking grandparents, grandchildren and teachers. I believe this will enhance their moral and social development and be good for the community as a whole,” said grandmother-of-ten Catherine Wiley, who last year ran the first-ever National Grandparents’ Pilgrimage in Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo. Over 5,000 grandmothers and grandfathers attended the Pilgrimage.
“Some schools in Co. Mayo have already agreed to run the Grandparents’ Day on May 28th, 2008, or on the week leading up to that date. With the help of Art O’Suilleabhain of the Mayo Education Centre, I am now in the process of contacting other schools around the county. Grandparents play such an important role in families – particularly with parents so busy these days, and also the higher incidence of family break-up.
“In many cases, grandparents are the glue holding the entire family together. On National Grandparents’ Day, the children and their grandparents will sit, play, and learn together in the classroom.”
Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain said she was delighted to be involved with the initiative. Three of her grandparents are deceased but she has a very close relationship with her paternal grandmother Alice O’Sullivan, who lives in Corr na Mona, Co. Galway.
“My granny and I are very close. She’s a wonderful cook and her jams, marmalades, cakes and breads are simply delicious,” she said.
“She knits and crochets amazing items and constantly has gifts for everyone. I feel very lucky to have her close at hand for advice and no matter what time of the day I happen to visit, there’s a cup of tea and a fresh scone at hand. I adore hearing her stories of when she was younger and admire everything she has done in her life.
“She is still jet-setting around the world, recently got her driver’s license and would do anything for any of her grandchildren. She is a fantastic role-model and I love her sincerely.”
Art O’Suilleabhain, Director/Stiurthoir Mayo Education Centre, believes this “initiative can have many positive benefits for learning, community and cultural education.” He added: “This project hopes to weave many aspects of generational and cultural strands together in a blend of material that can be used across various elements of the curriculum. We hope that such a day or an event will have positive and lasting benefits for the children and the community.”
This year’s National Grandparents Pilgrimage will take place in Knock Shrine on Sunday, September 14th, where the keynote speaker will be well-known religious affairs writer David Quinn.
More details on the National Grandparents’ Day are available on www.nationalgrandparentspilgrimage.com.