New pre-school for pupils with autism opened at Donegal school

New unit, ‘Cuan’ opens at Scoil Chonaill, Bunbeg for preschool children

Tommy Curran


Tommy Curran

New pre-school for pupils with autism opened at Donegal school

Stephen Kissane, right, who officially opened the centre pictured with Dónal Breslin.

The official opening of a new unit, ‘Cuan’ at Scoil Chonaill, Bunbeg for preschool children who have been diagnosed with autism took place on Friday week last.

The official opening was performed by Stephen Kissane, a local man and former pupil in Scoil Chonaill.

A member of the Irish Defence Force, he is based at Finner Camp.

Friday was a proud and memorable day for those involved in providing much needed service for young children with autism.

Principal Cathal Ó Fearraigh praised the fantastic work of teacher, Francess Nic Giolla Easapaig, who is trained in Special Needs and the two Special Needs Assistants, Louise Ní Fhearraigh and Grace McGarvey.

He also spoke of the commitment of the school to special education.

The overall aim of the centre is to integrate the children with autism into the mainstream school as soon as possible to maximise the full learning potential of the child.

Maistir Ó Fearraigh praised the staff and Board of Management of the school for their unbelievable dedication and commitment. He also praised the splendid ethos of integration that was evident in the school.

He said Scoil Chonaill has great plans for the future, and with continued hard work and dedication, there is no doubt that the school will continue to make superb progress of effective and innovative education for all the children in the school and those with special needs.

The new facility is brightly painted with a specially installed floor. It has a lovely bright cheerful atmosphere. It is equipped with most of the up to date equipment. It is a most stimulating environment for meeting the needs of the pupils.

He said the children will attend the special unit for a one or two years and then move into the mainstream national school education.

He thanked John Joe McGinley and the Huddle Up Errigal Group for kindly presenting almost €3,000 to the new unit.

He also thanked Tracey McCormack who recently organised a highly successful Crafts and Family Day in aid of the new unit and managed to raise close to €1,500. He also thanked an Roinn Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta for their financial aid, and the Variety Show ‘Amharc Anois Mé’ who are performing in Ionad Cois Locha, Dunlewey this weekend and who are to make a donation to them for the new centre.

He said the new facility is a joint venture between Scoil Chonaill and the HSE. A team from the Health Service Executive visit the unit on a regular basis and are key players in the provision of services. ‘Without the experience and extra care which this team provides, means the unit runs effectively and their help and input is very much appreciated’, he said.

The opening of the new unit will also provide opportunities for the children to meet with each other, integrate where possible and to develop links that will extend into the wider community. The new facility was blessed by Fr. Brian Ó Fearraigh, C.C., who is the Chairman of the Board of Management of the school.

The school choir, under the direction of Emma Ní Fhíoruisce performed at the opening ceremony. School pupil, Aoife Ní Ghallchóir read a prayer, and Owenie Ó Gallchóir, Cathal Ó Domhnaill and James Mac Fhionngháile to teacher Nic Giolla Easpaig and the two SNA’s, Grace McGarvey and Louise Ní Fhearraigh.