Friday, March 13, 2009


March 13th 09


In the middle of the recent madness I was summoned to Saint Gerard’s Resource Centre here in the heart of West Belfast. Saint Gerard’s is a wonderful school for children with special educational needs. I was there before and the atmosphere was electric. Not because of me. No, it was the accordion music slipping between jigs and reels and salsa which greeted our party and the general air of merriment and good fun which infected both teachers and pupils. They need a new school building and will have it as soon as possible if this blog and the Minister of Education can have our way.

But that’s not why my presence was requested this time. This time the pupils wanted me to bring a message from them to President Barack Obama. So I dashed from a meeting with the First and Deputy First Ministers and the other party leaders to Saint Gerard’s at the foot of the Black Mountain.

And there to my surprise was the merry accordion player, this time on a fiddle with another cheery musician fingering and squeezing the melodium and the place alive with music and craic and an epidemic of pupils and teachers and parents crowding into the entrance hall to witness the handover of the gift made during the US election campaign by the young people of Saint Gerard’s.

Reuben Kearney and Pearse McMahon did honours. They also slipped me a fine bottle of red wine to speed me on my way. So White House security watch out. The Saint Gerard’s school project is winging towards you and this humble messenger is privileged to be the bearer of good news from Ireland to President Obama. Thanks Reuben. Go raibh maith agat Pearse.


I gave you a bum steer about the Ceol ón gCroi on TG4 last week. It wasn’t about the hungerstrikes as I suggested. It was about the 1916 Rising and was a truly great programme featuring Pauline Scanlan from County Kerry.

The Hungerstrike one is on this Sunday night. 10 o clock on TG4. I will miss it. Maybe some of you will let me know what you think of it? Le do thoil? I have no doubt it will be well worth watching. The series so far has been mighty. Well done to everyone involved.


Mr Reality said...

Regarding Ceol ón gCroi, I will certainly keep you posted Gerry. Watched the last episode and, as you say, the whole programme was excellent and top marks to all concerned in the production.
Best wishes on your trip to the States.

Linda Coleman said...

Hi, Gerry,

I missed last Sunday's show, and logged on this afternoon to watch the Friday rerun of the 1916 Rising segment on TG4, but for some reason, it's not playing. Hopefully, it's just one of those "Friday the 13th" things and I'll have better luck Sunday. I've watched "Feirm Factor" and "Volvo Ocean Race," so I should be able to watch the program I really want to see, right? The listing says Lawrence Mc Keown, Bik Mc Farlane, and Francie Brolly are going to be on, so I'll send out an email & round up some people to tune in, or log on, or whatever.

By the way, my husband and I love the tie you're wearing in the picture; what a gorgeous color for the Lenten Season.

Linda Coleman said...

P.S. Gerry, when you meet Barack Obama, could you work the phrase "health care is a right" into the conversation? :) (I'm kidding, of course, but I've been relentlessly badgering politicians for decades about the need for universal health care in the U.S., and I'm getting so frustrated with the ones who can't grasp the concept of helath care as a right instead of a for-profit venture. The goal is in sight now, but I'm trying to get some people interested in marching on Washington, just in case the current health care meetings don't go anywhere.) Best wishes for a safe and happy visit to the U.S.!

Tim said...

Nice work Gerry, I hope you have recoved for your 1984 attact, less we forget that you are working as pivotal figure at your risk. we suffers pain from our injuries in life but must stop to what the meaning is all about. As a child develoment specialist It is nice not to take our luck over the luck others.Sounds like your going to be in Washington for St.Patrick's day,I hope you get a warm welcome,you have earned it.

Anonymous said...

For the peace process to go forward the parties must address 32csm issues. Sidelining groups has never worked and hence must be all inclusive
I come from this as a observer to the process noting how annoyed the 32csm become since Xmas.
Policing issues are not a excuse, the republican parties must help to address 32csn concerns in a political way.

Maire said...

Gerry, one of the most striking lack of programs here in our public school special ed programs, are the arts & music. These are also among the first programs cut during budget time when costs are analyzed in our regular schools. Unless there is community involvement & grants procured, the arts & music are seen as non necessities, thus depriving all the children of much needed cultural exposure.
BTW, my cousins son, who has auspergers, has been doing brilliantly in his special ed school in Belfast.
Have a wonderful trip!

Linda Coleman said...

Wow, what a great program, Gerry. Thanks for recommending it.

The program was a retrospective of the hunger strike, interspersed with songs inspired by the times.

It began with Alan Burke singing "Back Home in Derry," with an overview of Bobby Sands' life, which included interviews with Joe Austin and Séanna Walsh. There were some lovely camera shots of the Bobby Sands mural, as Alan Burke continued singing "Back Home in Derry," but he never did mention that Bobby Sands wrote those words to the tune of "Edmund Fitzgerald." (They were pretty good otherwise about listing songs and composers with a title overlay, so maybe they did one for "Back Home in Derry" and I missed it).

The program went on to give the history of hunger striking in Irish history, and a brief--too brief--overview of the worldwide reaction to Bobby Sands' death, including an interview with Deaglán de Bréadún, who recounted the protest outside the British Embassy in Dublin.

Alan Burke talked to Laurence McKeown and Bik McFarland, who sang "Song for Marcella," and the program concluded with Alan Burke's original song "The Growing Vine."

They packed a lot into a half-hour show, and the time went by much too fast. You can probably watch the rerun online, Gerry, from wherever you're going to be Friday. Check the listing at the TG4 website and click the weekly schedule tab.

It runs again Friday from 15:00 - 15:30, Central Daylight Time; if you're using someone else's computer, TG4 will automatically adjust to the time zone you're logged in from. How cool is that?