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Gaelscoil an Chaistil Primary School, Ballycastle


My wife and I have two children at Gaelscoil an Chaistil, one in Primary 6 and the other in Primary 1.  Initially we were both apprehensive about sending our children to the Gaelic school because neither of us speak Gaelic.  Through my wife’s work at children’s paediatrics, she was told first hand by a local professor about the benefits of bilingualism on children’s education and confidence.  This along with speaking to the staff who are all very approachable as well as very professional, we decided to send our youngest two children to Gaelscoil an Chaistil.  Our oldest two children went to English speaking primary schools in the area because the Gaelic school was not established at the time.  We are very glad we did send our youngest two daughters to the Gaelscoil because we are now reaping the rewards.  Our oldest girl is excelling in all subjects including English and Maths and the extra curricular activities provided at the school such as music and Ógras (youth club) are of great benefit socially.  She also qualified for the All Ireland finals in Gaelic speaking in Cavan this year and this is down to the school for helping and encouraging her.  She also received the highest mark in an English speaking competition of all primary schools in the North East last year.  Our youngest girl is following in her sister’s footsteps and is extremely happy at school.  Also I still can’t believe that my daughter in Primary 6 is doing her GCSE Irish next year, at the same time as her brother who will be in Year 12 at Cross and Passion in Ballycastle.  As parents we are delighted with Gaelscoil an Chaistil for providing our children with a well rounded and full education and also fluency in Gaelic and English. 


Neither Mary nor I are Gaelic speakers at all but because of Eve and Dearbhla’s attendance at the school, it is now spoken at home by them and a little by me. The girls’ use of both Gaelic and English is exceptional and they have shown great interest in other languages such as French and Spanish. Over the years we have enjoyed many fleadhs, from the Antrim Fleadh through to Ulster and the All Ireland. We have also seen much success come their way.

Their involvement in fleadhs and competitions such as public speaking and Gael Linn has come from the positive influence instilled in them at Gaelscoil an Chaistil. The school got them involved in Ballycastle Comhaltas, the Antrim Fleadh and Feis na nGleann over the years.

Our two older children, Mark and Rhianna, have also benefited from Gaelscoil an Chaistil even though it was not established when they were young. They are both members of Ógras an Chaistil as youth leaders; they have been to several Gaeltacht courses and they are both members of Ballycastle Comhaltas and have performed in the fleadhs over the years as well as performing in the GAA scor.

Gaelscoil an Chaistil is a fantastic school. School staff works extremely well with us as parents to ensure our children receive the best education and schooling experience possible. We owe the school so much for what it has given Eve and Dearbhla and also the rest of our family.

Patrick and Mary Gardiner

Our first experience of Gaelscoil an Chaistil was in 2008 when my husband and I joined the Opening Doors course. This was an insightful experience and, following on from this I decided to take our children to the Parent and Toddler group and the Music and Movement classes that take place weekly in the Family Centre. These sessions have been nothing short of excellent. There is a lovely, welcoming atmosphere and our children get so much pleasure and enjoyment from them.

Having myself trained as a language teacher, I am particularly interested in the opportunities and benefits available to young people who are taught in a bilingual setting. We have decided to send our daughters to the Naíscoil as we are so impressed by the standard of education and the overall ethos at the school. We feel that the commitment and dedication that the staff have to both the Gaelic Language and the local community can only benefit the children they are educating.  

Margaret McCrudden (née Black)

Although Caitríona attended Naíscoil an Chaistil we had not really considered sending her to the Bunscoil.  However, when my husband Brendan and I witnessed her self-confidence growing and her fluency in Gaelic developing we felt it would be wrong for us to deprive Caitríona of the chance to continue her Gaelic medium education.  We have never regretted this decision as she has grown into an independent, self-assured young girl and I firmly believe that this is due to the broad social, cultural and academic experiences she receives at Gaelscoil an Chaistil.  I am so glad we made this decision and would highly recommend Gaelscoil an Chaistil to other parents considering nursery and primary options for their child.

Catherine Butler

Our children are in P1 and P3 this year.  We find the school provides an extremely high standard of education; the children also enjoy learning Gaelic and have settled well into the school’s friendly community.  The school provides an extremely wide range of extra curricular activities that the children enjoy and benefit from.  We feel we have made the correct choice in sending our children to Naíscoil an Chaistil and then on to Gaelscoil an Chaistil.  Our children are excelling in their learning experience and we know that this will continue.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the school to anyone.

Shauna McFall

I have a child attending and two children now in post primary after having attended Gaelscoil an Chaistil, Gaelic-medium nursery and primary school. They all love the school and I cannot speak highly enough of the highly dedicated staff and principal. My older children each left Gaelscoil an Chaistil with A grades in their GCSE Irish. At eleven years old, this is testament to the education they received there.

Staise Beiliú

Firstly i would like to take the time to thank Gaelscoil an Chaistil, Gaelic-medium nursery and primary school, for your dedication, support and encouragement throughout our young daughter's Gaelic-medium education.
We are a non-Gaelic speaking family. As parents we are undoubtedly more aware of the benefits of bilingualism. The school staff provide excellent support and encouragement for parents who want to engage with their children. Not only is our daughter learning the language but also her heritage and culture. The school has also given us a belief and confidence in the Gaelic language. It has provided a linguistic environment to help our child learn in a more effective and understanding way - 'normalised it'! When it spreads from the classroom into our home, it becomes a family thing and that is what's important to us.

After our decision (almost four years ago, now Rang 3) to send our daughter both to the Nursery and then the Primary School was obviously the best decision we made for our child's education.  Go raibh maith agat.

Maresa Whitten

Our first introduction to Gaelscoil an Chaistil was joining the the parent and toddler groups with Áine which she thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted from in basic social terms.  When time came for pre-school the obvious choice was to continue where she was settled and comfortable.  The bilingual focus was actually secondary at the time even though as a family we're very pro languages, with French already a strong influence with us.  

Now, just over 1 year into her Naíscoil education, we're extremely happy.  Áine is thriving in the environment. Her confidence grows weekly as she learns new skills and is given opportunity to develop at her own pace.  The time and effort invested by her teachers in creative learning is just great, with her coming home daily with pride in her learning/work and we also love the 'outside time' encouraged.  Since researching much more into bilingual education we're keen to continue Áine's education here.  Oisín, our second, is now also a keen attendee of the toddler group and at 20 months already has a cúpla focal.  With number three having just arrived, no doubt we'll continue the path.

Over and above everything mentioned, the most important/impressive aspect for us is the individual consideration given to each child.  We feel the Naíscoil teachers know and appreciate different approaches required to engage with each child, and we're extremely reassured by this.

Eimear Franey (née Stewart)

Our 3 older children did not attend Gaelscoil an Chaistil and we fully intended Oisín to follow their path – that was until we encountered the fabulous provision on offer at Naíscoil an Chaistil.  Now we would not consider sending him to any other primary school.

Oisin has been welcomed wholeheartedly by all staff at the Naíscoil.  He is happy and enthusiastic about going to school and is even disappointed when Saturday comes around!  One of the many highlights was the Christmas play in which the children demonstrated their love and knowledge of music, song and story-telling, all through Gaelic, an amazing achievement for 3 year olds!

As a family we get great joy out of Oisín coming home with new vocabulary in Gaelic and he loves knowing more than we do!  Oisín has become the educator; teaching his older brothers and sisters colours and numbers in Gaelic.  The idea of using Gaelic at home occurs naturally for Oisín and he is oblivious to the fact that he is already becoming bilingual.

Being members of the Gaelscoil an Chaistil family has introduced us to a new lifestyle and it is has afforded our whole family the opportunity to reignite our love of Gaelic culture and traditions from a modern perspective.

We are looking forward to Oisín progressing through the gaelscoil and are confident that he will have a fulfilling and successful experience here.

Claire and Eddie Donnelly