A group of pupils came from Lapua Primary School in Finland to visit penfriends in Scoil Mhuire na nGael.
Accompanying them was Deputy Principal Maikki Mahne, who is also the children’s class teacher for the past 4 years and nine of the pupil’s parents.
The penfriends have been writing to each other for the past 3 years and the pupils are now in Mrs Sloane’s 6th class.
The group arrived on Saturday, September 15 and spent Sunday in the Carlingford Adventure Centre.
On Monday morning they visited Scoil Mhuire na nGael and both groups exchanged gifts.
Afterward Sgt Riccardo Lucchesi ( Father of pupil Lara in our 6th class) together with Lieutenant Barber raised the Irish tricolour, the Finnish flag and the Louth flag.
The group then went for a fun session at Aura Leisure Centre.
The afternoon was spent getting to know each other and learning to play Gaelic football.
On Tuesday morning the group received a very informative talk on the history of Dundalk from local historian Hugh Smyth.
Other activities that day included learning ceili dances, Finnish and Irish songs and learning to play hurling.
The highlight of the trip was an Irish evening at Scoil Mhuire na nGael attended by the 6th class parents and the staff and Parents Committee of the school. Also present was Cllr Finnian Mc Coy, Chairman Louth County Council.
Greeting the visitors on arrival was Finnian O’ Connor who played tradition tunes on the uileann pipes. Then followed a traditional Irish concert. Former Riverdance stars Dervla Mc Gee and Alan Fox were accompanied by a troupe of young dancers from the school.
The audience were also treated to traditional music and song courtesy of staff, past pupils and parents. Michael and Kathleen Mc Glynn organised a lively set dance performance and for the finale the two class groups sang a song in Irish & Finnish for the delighted audience.
Then the real fun started as the ceili began. There was much enjoyment as parents, staff, and pupils all enjoyed the craic. All enjoyed a buffet recetion afterwards.
As the Finnish pupils said goodbye on Tuesday night there were tears flowing as this was the last opportunity for the penfriends to meet.
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat about the penfriends visit, Principal of Scoil Mhuire na nGael, Martina Rafferty said,
“The visit from the Finnish penfriends will be etched on the memories of our 6th class pupils for many years to come. Firm friendships were formed and the pupils will continue to keep in contact both from school and also on a personal level. It has been a wonderful educational experience for both schools and we will build on this in the future. Already plans have been made for a younger class in both schools to become penfriends and I am looking forward to a trip to Lapua Primary School.”
Ms Rafferty paid tribute to the class teachers who worked with the class over the past three years and thanked 6th class teacher Mrs Sloane for the tremendous effort she put in preparing for this great event. She also praised staff and the Parents Committee for organising the buffet for all the guests on Tuesday night.