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25 Jun 2022

Ionad Dore a unique example at an international symposium in Cyprus

Presentation from Máire Uí Comhaill was warmly received

Ionad Dore a unique example at an international symposium in Cyprus

Speaking at an international symposium in Cyprus in relation to the services and work carried out at Ionad Pádraig, Dore, manager Máire Uí Chomhaill found she was proud of how unique their small Gaeltacht-based organisation is.
She was presenting and facilitating a workshop at the '8th International Symposium on Service-Learning (ISSL) 'at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus in association with the University of Florida and Learn International. The event took place earlier this month.
In her opening address to the international community, Máire Uí Chomhaill spoke in Irish explaining the Irish language is the language which is spoken in the Donegal Gaeltacht.


Each year, students from the University of Florida come to Ionad Naomh Pádraig, Dore, to help and to experience the wealth of experience the Gaoth Dobhair-based facility has to offer.
During the pandemic Ms Uí Chomhaill spoke to students over zoom and explained how the ionad was established, financed and how it contributes to the community and to the development of the local community.


The university subsequently got in touch with Ms Uí Chomhaill and said they would like to compete to win the opportunity of presenting at the international symposium. Professors, Máire Uí Chomhaill and a representative from Learn International all made submissions to the board for consideration and at Christmas were delighted to be told they had won a place to present their work at the symposium in Cyprus.
Speaking in Irish, Máire said: “It was lovely to have the opportunity to present there. We attended many of the other presentations and felt our presentation was very different to other organisations.”
Other speakers spoke of community education and travelling to different global areas similar to an Erasmus placement bringing students with them to learn from the different regions.


Professors from the university of Florida spoke about their educational institution while Máire spoke of the work students from the university do in Gaoth Dobhair. Máire and her team at Ionad Pádraig, who are described as community champions, organise what the students would do on their arrival and what role they will fulfil whilst working in the Gaeltacht area. “They have roles in every dimension of our work. Twenty-four students have arrived in Ireland and will be here in a number of weeks. They help us with the summer camps, tidy towns and every single aspect of the work that we do in the community,” she said.
The students spend two weeks in the area. Students from the university have spent 4 years working in the area, to date. The pandemic dictated that students could not come to Gaoth Dobhair over the last couple of years.
One of the aspects that struck Máire during the symposium was how unique institutions, such as Ionad Pádraig, An Crannóg and Áislann Rann na Feirste are on a global scale. Ms Uí Chomhaill said that being at an international forum and speaking about the services and work that is carried out reinforced how important and rare such facilities are on a global scale.
“There are a lot of places that do not have such facilities. We do take it for granted,” the manager said.
During her presentation Máire said that the building and furnishings they work within is worth hundreds of thousands of euro and found people were astounded to hear it was community will and spirit that ensured the building was built and ascertained it was completed to a high standard internally.
Máire’s presentation was very warmly received by those present. The groups’ presentation ensured that they were given an invitation to travel to Capetown in South Africa in two years time to participate in the next international symposium.

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