Other Courses

Gaeilg’ Acla | Irish classes

Cúrsa A

Tá an cúrsa seo díríthe ar thosaitheoirí. Beidh béim ar an ngnáth-comhrá bunúsach.

This course is most suited to beginners to learning the language. There will be an emphasis on foundation-level conversational Irish

Cúrsa b

Sa chúrsa seo beidh deis ag na rannpháirtí staidéar a dhéanamh ar chanúint Acla – an saibhreas agus foclóir a bhaineann leis an chanúint.

In this course participants will have the opportunity to study the dialect of Achill Irish – Gaeilg’ Acla and the rich heritage and vocabulary associated with it.

What is Achill Irish?

The first thing that can be said about Gaeilg ‘Acla is that it is a dialect in itself, a dialect which is a mixture of Connacht and Ulster Irish. In this combination, the Ulster form is strongest in terms of pronunciation, grammar and speech models.

It is common from most Achill Irish speakers that there is a leaning towards the Fifth Declension and this is clear here: “Nuair a d’fhoscail an bhean doras na cistineadh, bhí an madadh ina luí ar leac na tealladh ag ithe na geireadh agus deatach ag éirí as ruball na léineadh a bhí sínte ar bhosca na mónadh os comhair na teineadh”.


Writer’s Workshop

The Scoil Acla Writers’ Workshop is taken by Mr. Paddy Bushe.

Paddy Bushe was born in Dublin in 1948 and now lives in Waterville, Co. Kerry. A prize-winning poet in Irish and in English, his collections include Poems With Amergin (1989), Teanga (1990), Counsellor (1991), Digging Towards The Light (1994), In Ainneoin na gCloch (2001), Hopkins on Skellig Michael (2001) and The Nitpicking of Cranes (2004). To Ring in Silence: New and Selected Poems was published in 2008. He edited the anthology Voices at the World’s Edge: Irish Poets on Skellig Michael (Dedalus, 2010).

His latest collection is My Lord Buddha of Carraig Eanna (Spring, 2012). The recipient of the Oireachtas prize for poetry in 2006, he also received the 2006 Michael Hartnett Poetry Award. Last year, Bushe won the annual Irish Times Poetry Now award, which has been presented for the past 12 years and previously won by several of the country’s major poets including Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Harry Clifton, Sinéad Morrissey, Dennis O’Driscoll, Theo Dorgan and Caitríona O’ Reilly.

Mr. Bushe is a member of Aosdána – established by the Art’s Council of Ireland in 1981 to honour artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the creative arts in Ireland, and to encourage and assist members in devoting their energies fully to their art. Membership of Aosdána, which is by peer nomination and election, is limited to 250 living artists who have produced a distinguished body of work. Members must be (or have been) resident in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland for five years and have produced a body of work that is original and creative. There are certain exceptions where artists resident outside of the island of Ireland may be eligible if the body of their work is deemed to significantly benefit the arts in Ireland. The current membership is 248.

Former Achill Island resident and Artist, the late Camille Souter was a Saoi of the Aos Dána. A number of members are recognised by their peers for outstanding achievement by the title of Saoi. No more than seven current members may be so honoured at any one time. The title of Saoi is conferred by the President of Ireland and is held for life.

Sean Nós

Sean Nós Singing

The first obvious thing to notice abour Sean-nós singing is that it is unaccompanied and performed as a solo art. The singer tells the story in the song by combining many vocal techniques, especially through the use of ornamentation and variation, in linking the melody to the text.

Sean-nós singers use different techniques to ornament the performance of a song, One syllable in a word can be sung to several notes and the notes can vary from verse to verse. Sometimes the notes to be ornamented can be adjacent to each other and at other times the gap between them is wide. The latter practice is confined mainly to Munster. Different notes can be stressed for a particular effect, or a note can be held over several beats.

Sean Nós Dancing

Sean Nós (old style), dancing is the oldest style of dancing in Ireland. It was here long before the set dancing and Irish dancing. It was once danced all over Ireland but like the Irish language it was stamped out and only survived in the very far corners of Ireland, our Gaeltachts, (Irish Gaelic speaking areas).

It is now enjoying a huge revival in the West of Ireland and indeed all over the world. It is a very loose and free style form of dance and was usually danced on half barrels, around brushes, on half doors and on top of tables.. There are no specific dance steps and so it is up to the individual dancer to improvise and include their favourite steps. The Sean Nós dancing is about dancing from head to toe and expression through dance



In essence, quilting is the process of sewing multiple layers of material together to form a thicker, warmer structure. A quilt is divided into three layers: the Quilt Top, the Wadding and the Backing. Quilters often like to use a ‘quilt sandwich’ analogy when describing this combination – as a sandwich is divided into three main layers, so is a quilt in a similar sense. The Quilt Top features the main design of the quilt, while the Wadding is used as padding and the Backing is usually cotton fabric to help hold the Wadding in.

To stitch the quilt layers together, there are several common stitches used for both functionality and decoration – the most common being a basic running stitch. Generally speaking, creating a quilt involves a variety of other techniques alongside sewing the layers together. The Quilt Top can be created from bespoke patchwork patterns or different forms of applique, and embroidery can be added as embellishment. On many quilts, a combination of these techniques is used.

Sheila Mangan is from Achill and has a long held interest in crafts. Her classes will consist of the following:

Class 1: Foundation piecing is a traditional patchwork technique. We will use this to make a mug rug taking inspration from the beauty of the Achill landscape.

Class 2: There are many beautiful items associated with Christmas but one of the nicest is the sight of a gorgeous Christmas bobble that you created on the tree. In this class you will learn this precise but fun technique and create a Christmas tree ornament to take home.

Her classes are suitable for any level and must be booked in advance.

Basket Weaving Workshops

Kathleen McNea is a fourth generation basket weaver. She learned her skills from her father and has adapted many different styles but also tries to keep the traditional style alive. She always had a great interest in basket weaving. It wasn’t until her father’s death in the early 80’s that she decided to keep the craft of basket weaving alive. But in 1988 Kathleen and her family emigrated to England. After the family returned to Achill in 1992 Kathleen found that there was great local interest in the baskets and the learning of weaving. She was asked by local groups to teach them basket weaving and that was how Kathleen began to share her knowledge, enthusiasm and expertise.

Since then Kathleen has worked with many Women’s Groups in Achill, Newport and Ballycroy and has also worked with the local V.T.O.S group (adult education). There is still a great and growing interest in basket weaving classes not only within Ireland but even from people in America who have come to classes during their stay in Ireland. During her class you will be shown the different types of baskets (pardógs, clíabhs, and many other traditional baskets which were native to the west). You will be shown how they are started, weaved and finally how they are finished off.

Sincere thank you to our funding agencies & partner organisations