Belfast Telegraph

Irish language schools land US windfall

By Claire Regan
25 January 2005

Irish medium schools in Northern Ireland received a much-needed financial boost today with the announcement that a prominent Irish American has left the sector more than £20,000 in his will.

Eoin McKiernan, who died aged 89 last year, left 40,000 dollars (£21,400) in recognition of his particular passion for the Irish education sector here.

He was the founder of the Irish-American Cultural Institute and a regular visitor to Belfast.

Iontaobhas na Gaelscolaiochta, the body for funding Irish medium schools, said today it was delighted with the windfall.

"It's a tremendous fillip at a time for the Irish medium schools at a time when it is sorely needed," said Pilib O Runai.

"With the absence of an Assembly and political uncertainty future state funding isn't guaranteed so we are very dependent on donations and gifts such as this.

"40,000 dollars is a substantial amount of money and will make a real difference to the school kids in Irish medium schools who will benefit from it."

The fund to administer the donation will honour Jeannette O'Callaghan McKiernan, Eoin's wife, another language enthusiast.

There are 32 Irish medium primary schools in the Northern Ireland along with 44 nurseries and three secondary level schools.

Eoin was born in Manhattan in 1915 to Irish parents but spent much of his childhood in Co Galway where he learned Irish.

In 1962 he founded the Irish American Cultural Institute, an organisation which is still going strong today.

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