Island students celebrate Irish culture through song and sport

St. Patrick's Day festivities will be happening in communities across P.E.I. Saturday. A time to dress in green and celebrate all things Irish. Friday, students from several Island schools were introduced to the Irish and Gaelic culture at the first-ever Irish schools day jamboree in Stratford.

'Having culture is a sense of identity'

The first-ever Irish schools day jamboree for St. Patrick’s Day was held in Stratford on Friday. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

St. Patrick's Day festivities will be happening in communities across P.E.I. this weekend.

It's a time to dress in green and celebrate all things Irish.

Friday, students from several Island schools were introduced to the Irish and Gaelic culture at the first-ever Irish schools day jamboree in Stratford.

"St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, it's a lot different to any other St. Patrick's Day in the world," organizer Shane O'Neill. "What we find is in Ireland it's really a celebration of the youth. Teaching the youth about the culture, teaching the youth about the history and events and the sports. So, what we wanted to do here was bring the same thing to P.E.I."

Organizer Shane O'Neill discusses how Gaelic football is played with students during Irish Day celebrations in Stratford. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Students sang traditional songs, learned Gaelic words and phrases and played Gaelic football.

"Our culture is never going to stand still,," said Paudie Fitzgerald of the Benevolent Irish Society. 

"It's either going to go backwards or forwards, so it's never going to stand where it is, so we want it to move forward, so this is a huge move forward for us having this Gaelic sports here, Gaelic football, hurling, languages. We're actually moving in a direction we never expected to. I never thought we'd have Gaelic football here ever, so this is amazing."

Student Amber Callbeck shows her stepdancing skills while Cian O Morain plays traditional Irish music. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Connor McInnis, a student at Souris Regional, said he enjoyed learning about Irish culture and heritage, particularly the traditional music.

"It's fun to learn how to play, how their instruments work and how they play and how their culture works, their songs and how they celebrate St. Patrick's Day and how it's different than it is here," he said.

Organizers are hoping to make the Irish schools jamboree an annual event, and that more schools will get involved.

Gaelic football was a popular activity during the first-ever Irish Schools jamboree. (Tom Steepe/CBC)
Mary MacGillivray and Cian O Morain lead students with traditional Irish songs. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

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