Daltaí an Chaisleáin (BBC Two Northern Ireland, Monday 12 February, 10pm) is a new four-part series from BBC Gaeilge which focuses on the people whose dedication turned this medieval castle into a modern school, the obstacles they faced and continue to face as the school doubles in size from an initial 16 students when opening its doors in September 2015, to 32 in September 2016.
For 500 years Dungiven Castle has stood at the foot of the Sperrin Mountains. Over the years, this ancestral home of the O’Cahan clan has had many incarnations, including a home for the US Army during World War II, a dance and music venue in the 1950s and 1960s (playing host to Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, amongst others) and until 2014, a boutique hotel.
Now, thanks to a passionate local community and determined voluntary committee, this atmospheric building has been transformed into Gaelcholáiste Dhoire – the first standalone rural Irish language post-primary school in Northern Ireland.
We meet the local people behind the transformation, the dedicated headmaster and his staff, and also the students who are delighted with their quirky new school, which some refer to affectionately as’ Hogwarts’.
The first programme in the series gives an insight into the day-to-day running of Gaelcholáiste Dhoire, as well as students’ social and home lives.
We meet Ferdia the farmer who loves looking after his rare breed of cattle, Sé Óg the up-and-coming Irish champion karting driver, and Erin the talented young harpist.
In programme two, we meet ‘new’ student Ruairí who gets involved with the debating team and is ready to put his points across in the first round of the Gael Linn debating competition.
Also, the Young Scientist team are selected to participate in an exhibition in the RDS in Dublin, and the school choir competes in the International Choir of the Year Competition.
Alongside student challenges, the Board of Governors seek funding from the Education Authority to build new classrooms to accommodate the ew intake of pupils.
Daltaí an Chaisleáin is made by Ligid TV Productions for BBC Gaeilge, with funding from Northern Ireland Screen’s Irish Language Broadcast Fund. Series Producer / Director: Sonia Nic Giolla Easbuig