Commissioner's Visit Copperfastens Presentation Athenry's Euro Connection

EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan- Quinn was back on familiar ground recently when she visited Presentation College, Athenry, to see for herself the pioneering work being done to spread the European vision.

The Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science officially opened the school in her capacity as Minister for the Gaeltacht in 1981, but this time she was meeting First Year students to hear about their involvement in the European Studies Programme, a crossborder project which allows them to link up with schools in other European countries.

Pictured above Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, with Gerry Doherty principal of Presentation College Athenry, science teacher Helen Byrne and Jason Cotter, teacher and European Studies Coordinator.

This is a post-primary curriculum- based programme linking schools in Ireland with schools across Europe through sustained collaborative projects furthering tolerance, mutual understanding and appreciation of the cultures of others.

Currently more than 300 schools in 25 European countries are involved. The First Years of Form 6 have created resources, which represent Irish culture such as hurling, traditional music, Irish dancing and so on.

These are uploaded to the online shared area and all partner schools can view these resources and likewise our students can learn about other areas or Ireland and Europe when they log in and view other schools cultural projects.

In November, the First Year students visited the European Commission's office in Dublin and the school has previously participated in the annual Model Council of the European Union debate for secondary schools, organised by the European Commission Representation in Ireland.

"My aim is to educate our students about Europe, European culture, the benefits of being a European citizen and
how the EU political system is set up and the roles of the different EU political institutions.

Pictured above Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, with science teacher Kenneth O'Dea and Junior Cert students;

The European Studies Programme breaks down geographical boundaries and makes the students feel more
European," said Jason Cotter, the teacher who coordinates the programme.

The Commissioner was greeted by Mr Cotter and School Principal Gerry Doherty, who then introduced her
to staff members - and to Athenry's past winner of the BT Young Scientist Competition, Edel Brown.

Following this she was introduced by Mr. Doherty to an assembly of 1st year students and she spoke to them in detail about her role in the European Commission with references to funding renewable energy projects, wind and solar-powered projects, electric vehicles and soon.

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn with chemistry students (from left) Meghan McDonagh, Conor Gamble, Nicola Gill and Dylan Callanan.

She explained about the European Research Council which can give a grant of up to €2.5 million to individual scientists, regardless of the country in which they work. She encouraged all young scientists to aim high and to apply for any grants that may be available.

She heard about the students' involvement in the 'European Studies Programme', a cross-border project which allows them to link up with schools in other European countries.

A question and answer session followed and a number of students asked questions from the floor. To the question, 'Do you like your job?', the commissioner answered "I love my job, though I must admit to looking forward to Halloween of this year when I will retire and will have time. to devote to other interests".

More Photos

Cian Naughton presents a bouquet of flowers to EU Commissioner Máire-Geoghegan-Quinn.

Sarah Feeney presents a history of the Presentation sisters in Athenry (compiled and edited by Gerry Aherne) to Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

Chloe O'Shaughnessy presents a letter to EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at Presentation College, Athenry.

(Special thanks to the Connacht Tribune for supplying above images and article).