The links between IT Sligo and the poet W B Yeats have been further underlined by the Institute’s decision to fund bursaries for three students attending the recent International Yeats Summer School.
The Yeats Society has paid tribute to the Institute for its decision to award the scholarships to people who themselves are involved in education, thus ensuring that a love of the poet’s work will be passed on in classrooms around the country.
The President of the Society, Mr Joe Cox, said that the bursaries provided a wonderful opportunity to beneficiaries who otherwise might not have been in a position to attend the school in Sligo and soak up Yeats’ work in the landscape so beloved of the poet.
“Apart from the academic element of the school, I think there were many highlights for participants, notably the reading by Seamus Heaney and the concert by Steve Wickham”, said Mr Cox.
The IT Sligo bursaries were awarded to students from north and south of the border.
They included Ms Noreen Carolan, Head of Sixth Form at Oakgrove Integrated College in Derry, who has over 30 years’ experience in post primary education in Northern Ireland. A lifelong admirer of Yeats’ work, since she read the “Fiddler of Dooney” as a child, Noreen said that participation in the school had reinforced her love for the musical cadences in the poetry.
Mr Daithi Gormley from Ballintogher, County Sligo, a graduate in History and Irish from University College Dublin and a noted traditional musician also commented on the musicality of the poetry. He was also drawn to the school because of a wish to explore Yeats’ passion for folklore.
The third beneficiary was Sligo native Olga Ni Fhearraigh, an undergraduate student at St Angela’s College which overlooks Lough Gill. As a trainee teacher she relished the opportunity to enhance her knowledge of Yeats’ life and work by listening to the insights of academics and experts from Ireland and abroad.
Reflecting on the school, she said one of the main things she learned, through studying the work of Yeats and meeting international students was how interaction between people has an influence on the way we live our lives.
IT Sligo funded tuition fees and made a contribution to any maintenance costs incurred by the three students.
Mr Cox, a former Head of School at IT Sligo, said the bursaries were a welcome reminder of the importance of having a holistic approach to education. “I think it is important to give someone in third level education a rounded approach by exposing them to interests which will last a lifetime,” he said.
Two years ago the then President Mary McAleese acknowledged the great literary heritage of the region when she officially inaugurated the Yeats Library Building at IT Sligo, marking the Institute’s 40th anniversary.
IT Sligo graduate Lydia Concannon this week begins a six months residency at the Abbey Theatre. Lydia, a native of Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, was selected for the first annual Yeats Design Residency, part of an innovative partnership between the Institute and the national theatre, which was co-founded by Yeats.