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09 Jul 2018

The dust may barely have settled on Ulster’s biggest Irish Language Summer Camp, but already the tributes are pouring in. Parents, relatives, children and teachers have inundated social media networks with tributes to the organisers of Campa Mhacha 2018 – the only all-Irish summer camp in Armagh City. Based at Eamhain Mhacha / The Navan Centre, the camp is organised by Irish language collective, CAIRDE Teo. Attracting almost 100 children  from Irish medium primary schools in the area, the Camp is celebrating its eleventh year of existence and organisers have expressed delight at the overwhelming response to this year’s event, held in the searing heat of an unusually tropical Irish summer. Sun cream, bottled water, insect spray, shades and sandals were the order of the day, as the Camp participants wallowed all week in temperatures more akin to Albufeira than Armagh City.

Camp Coordinator, Seán Ó Maoilsté expressed his delight at the continued growth and development of the popular summer camp:
“The response to this year’s Campa Mhacha was phenomenal. We employed additional teachers and support staff and we even had a waiting list for those who enlisted after all the places on the Camp had been snapped up. The children were fantastic and were delighted to get the chance to use their Irish in a range of different social and recreational environments. The kids who come to Campa Mhacha really are a credit to their parents and to their teachers, who have evidently instilled in them a love and passion for the Irish language and culture”.

While the main centre for the 2018 Camp was Eamhain Mhacha/The Navan Centre, Campa Mhacha also offered opportunities for the children to participate in activities as diverse as radio production workshops, a trip to AWOL Outdoor Adventure Camp, a day trip to Newcastle and Coco’s Adventure Playground, a visit to Dublin and an Irish language guided tour of Croke Park, a Celtic Warrior School at Navan and a fun day at C&J Animal Farm.

The visit to Croke Park was made extra special when the young Irish speakers attending the Camp were introduced to RTÉ presenter and star commentator Marty Morrissey. Many of the young cailíni attending the Camp were particularly keen to offer their congratulations to Marty after his memorable appearances on RTÉ’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ series.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the children also had the opportunity to enjoy instruction in hurling and camogie, Celtic arts and crafts workshops, yoga, treasure hunts and a host of other activities.  All  workshops, activities and interaction with the children were delivered through the medium of Irish. Parents and relatives can visit CAIRDE Teo’s Facebook page where there are hundreds of photographs recording the children’s exploits during the week.

On the final day of Camp, the children worked with teachers and local musicians to prepare a concert performance for families and guests to round off Campa Mhacha 2018. Families, siblings and friends joined the children in the Theatre at the Navan Centre for a show that no one will ever forget. In recent years CAIRDE Teo has taken responsibility for coordination and delivery of Campa Mhacha. Team Campa Mhacha is staffed by professional teachers, youth workers and a community development team with many years of experience in delivering recreational projects for young people. All camp staff are fully qualified and trained to professional standards and all are vetted in accordance with legislation.

The Camp receives partial financial assistance from the Education Authority and from Foras na Gaeilge. CAIRDE Teo would like to offer their thanks to the all the Camp teachers and assistants who gave up a week of their summer holidays, to the staff at Páirc an Chrócaigh, Cocos, C&Js, and AWOL. The Irish language group also express their gratitude to the Navan Centre, especially Rosaleen and Damian, to ACDC signs for the fantastic Campa Mhacha banner, and to Jerome McCarthy and Justin from Jerome’s Coach Hire. They extend a special thanks also to Armagh County star Joe McIlroy of Na Cláirsigh Ard Mhacha who visited the Camp on the final day to present awards to competition winners..

Finally, CAIRDE would also like to say a huge thank you to all of the children who took part in the Camp and who contributed so much in terms of their participation, joy, enthusiasm and energy. Maith sibh a pháistí agus bainígí úsáid as an Ghaeilge ar feadh an tsamhraidh uilig.