Two Donegal national schools are in a celebratory mood this week as the judges of a prestigious national art competition have named them Junior and Senior County Winners, placing them in the running for what has become a much sought-after national title.

National schools Naomh Bridhid, Glenmakee and Lurgybrack were named county winners in prestigious national art competition

The competition, which is entitled ‘Someone Like Me’, is sponsored by the Department of Justice and Equality. It aims to promote disability awareness among primary school children and give them a greater understanding of what unites children of differing abilities.  Now an annual initiative, ‘Someone Like Me’ allows children to learn about and discuss these topics and creatively express what they have learned through art and craft.

And, the artistic efforts of pupils and teachers of Naomh Bridhid, Glenmakee, Carndonagh and Lurgybrack National School, Letterkenny have paid off as their imaginative ‘Someone Like Me’ submission was singled out by the competition’s judges - Sinéad Burke, Mark Maguire and Caomhán Mac Con Iomaire - for being exceptionally insightful and inspirational.

The entry from Naomh Bridhid, Glenmakee, Carndonagh, named as Junior County Winner, was a group entry created by Junior and Senior Infants pupils with their teacher Amanda Doherty. Entitled ‘We all fit together’, this large, colourful, entry depicts a self-portrait of each pupil on single jigsaw pieces. These jigsaw pieces have been joined to one another, to show how the children are inextricably linked whilst retaining an individual sense of self.

The entry from Lurgybrack National School, Letterkenny, named as Senior County Winner, was created by 5th Class pupil Conán Galligan with teacher Mrs. Clinton. Entitled ‘Perfect the way you are’, this pupil's piece employed several different elements and techniques on one page, with mosaic-like collage work, pencil drawing, and the creation of a 3D envelope. He drew upon personal experiences of his brother who has Down Syndrome, to create this work.

Congratulating both schools on becoming county winners, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath T.D. said that he was hugely encouraged by the number of competition entries.

“This year we received more than 2,000 entries from 25 counties which means that teachers and pupils right across the country have taken the time to think carefully about the similarities that exist between all people and to consider other people and other people’s feelings,” he said.

“There are more than 600,000 people in Ireland with a disability, of which 53,000 are children under the age of 15.  Initiatives like this are an important part of the work carried out by the Department of Justice and Equality to promote inclusiveness and I am delighted to see so many schools take part.

“While I know that it will be an anxious wait for the pupils and teachers to hear which of the entries has been awarded the national title, the reality is that we are all winners. Everyone who has taken part will have developed a better understanding of disability and formed more positive attitudes simply by thinking about treating others the way that they like to be treated themselves.  That can only lead to a more inclusive Ireland where everyone, irrespective of ability or disability, is a valued member of society.”

Both schools will now go on to compete with 45 other schools from around the country for the overall national “Someone Like Me” award which will be announced by the Minister for State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath T.D. at a ceremony at Dublin City Hall on Monday 4 December 2017.

The competition, which offers a range of prizes up to the value of €750 was open to all primary school pupils from junior infants to sixth class and over 2,000 entries were received from individual pupils, class groups and whole schools right across Ireland.  Entries ranged from posters and collages to large sculptural installations and multi-media pieces.

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