First Irish-medium Integrated Primary School in Northern Ireland Opens | Turas Project

Turas Project | NICRC

Scoil na Seolta, the first Irish-medium Integrated Primary School in Northern Ireland, will open its doors in September 2024. Scoil na Seolta is the latest achievement brought about by the pioneering work of Linda Ervine, manager of the Turas Project in east Belfast.

The Community Relations Council supports the organisation through the Core Funding Scheme.

For the previous 12 years Turas has been offering Irish language classes and cultural experiences to people who might not otherwise have been able to access them. 

This new educational opportunity began with the provision of a naíscoil in 2021. Despite some opposition at the beginning, the Naíscoil has become deeply embedded in the local community. 

"This area of Belfast remains quite unionist," said Aodán Mac Séafraidh, the Chair of the Naíscoil Committee, "but people are realising that this does not conflict with an interest in, or love for, the Irish language. It's not about politics. The language actually enriches people's connection with the place they are from."

For the last number of years, Naíscoil na Seolta has been privileged to run its provision in two local churches. But with numbers increasing, a new site has been secured in the Castlereagh/Cregagh area of east Belfast. The Naíscoil offers places to pre-pre and pre-school children and from September 2024 will offer places to children starting P1. For now, Scoil na Seolta will be run on a voluntary basis and has secured funding to support this.

"We are thrilled at the positive reception for Scoil na Seolta," said Committee member Linda Ervine. "We dropped leaflets through the doors in the local community and people were really interested in what we were doing. We cannot wait to offer more families in east Belfast the opportunity to experience the richness of bilingualism in an integrated setting. People are pleased to see east Belfast become more diverse and inclusive."

The motto of the Naíscoil and the new Bunscoil is "Páistí sona ag foghlaim le chéile" which means "Happy children learning together". Naíscoil and Scoil na Seolta are bringing new positive educational experiences to the children in their local community."