Cape Clear marine courses to aid teens learning Irish

February 7th, 2024 11:55 AM

By Helen Riddell

The courses will help teens to improve their Irish.

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A NEW marine-themed residential course for teenagers based on Cape Clear, which also aims to promote the use of the Irish language, is set for a busy summer.

Maratacht is owned and run by Cape Clear native Paula Ní Ríogáin, and will run week-long courses for young people aged between 13 and 17.

The courses will incorporate marine-based activities along with sessions on shoreline ecology, and aims to use the Irish language as much as possible throughout the week.

Paula, who has over 25 years’ experience in running water-based activities, said that Maratacht is a natural progression to encourage enjoyment of the marine environment for young people.

‘These residential courses are marine focused and also linked to the secondary school curriculum, and will include lessons in kayaking, snorkelling, and swimming and they will also learn about shoreline ecology from local experts.’

Paula outlined how the Irish language will be used throughout the course, but stresses that it is primarily to encourage use of the language in an informal setting.

‘We really want to support the Irish language, but its use in the course will be purely conversational and people can use as much as they feel comfortable with, there will be no pressure on anyone to speak Irish the entire time.’

Paula already runs summer camps on Cape Clear but feels this new venture of residential camps, will allow young people to spend a week immersed in island life, learning about the local flora, fauna, and heritage, and gain useful water-based skills.

‘All participants are met in Baltimore before they catch the ferry to Cape Clear, so the course really starts there, the whole transition of crossing from the mainland to the island by boat, and throughout the week, they’ll get to experience the island way life and hear about the heritage and social history of the island.'

Accommodation is dormitory style in the Tír na nÓg hostel which Paula runs and all food is included. Paula stressed there will be 24/7 supervision, with course leaders also staying on site. Business is already looking good says Paula.

‘We already have a number of bookings. We take 25 participants each week of the course, so everyone is assured of individual attention, and we’ve already had a lot of interest from across Ireland. Most of our instructors are from the West Cork area, so it’s good that we’re also able to create local employment and contribute to the local economy on the island.’

The Maratacht camps, at, will not only be enjoyable but Paula hopes they will also prove to be a vital asset going forward to third-level education.

‘All topics we cover are linked to the schools’ curriculum for geography, history, and Irish, and each participant will leave with a portfolio.

‘As well as being educational we also hope those attending will form lasting friendships with people they meet on the course.

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