Thursday 27 February 2020

Connections: Stories by Syrian Families in County Clare

Ennistymon Library welcomed Syrian families who have become part of the local community to a special celebration on the 25th of February to mark the publication of their own stories. Connections: Stories by Syrian Families in County Clare is the result of a seven week project shared by children of Ennistymon National School and their parents and siblings which demonstrates the power of storytelling and writing in linking two very diverse cultures.

The initiative had its beginning at a Children’s Book Festival event at Ennistymon Library in October 2018 when the library’s guest author Debbie Thomas brought the joy of exploring iBbY Ireland’s Silent Books Collection to the Syrian children of Scoil Mhainchín National School Ennistymon. The passion for telling stories shown by the children on that occasion was appreciated and recognized as a learning and literacy opportunity that was worthy of further development.

Debbie Thomas, author and project facilitator speaking at the launch of Connections at Ennistymon Library

Under the expert guidance of author Debbie Thomas and illustrator Tatyana Feeney both of whom have successfully published and illustrated children’s books with Irish publishers and with assistance from Poetry Ireland, iBbY Ireland and Creative Ireland a seven week project was initiated and managed by Clare County Library.

To quote workshop facilitator and author Debbie Thomas, the workshop experience “was like dropping in on a lively and loving family. The friendship and laughter among the eleven children, mothers and sisters reflected the strong community born three years ago on their arrival in Ennistymon as part of the United Nations Resettlement Scheme.”

Connections is a compilation of written and illustrated stories in which the authors, children and adults, recall real places and experiences and imagine a bright future in Ireland and in particular in County Clare.

Jane O’Hanlon, Education Officer with Poetry Ireland and President of iBbY Ireland speaking at the launch of Connections at Ennistymon Library

The participants’ stories are enhanced by their own pictures co-ordinated by Tatyana Feeney. Like Debbie, Tatyana brought lots of fun to the project matching artwork to story, all the while engaging in a most convivial way with everyone in the group. The objectives of this latest library initiative in the Right to Read programme was to give space for each parent and child to connect and have fun together as a group as well as improving the participants’ oral literacy and writing in English.

Helen Sheridan, School Principal, Ennistymon National School speaking at the launch of Connections at Ennistymon Library

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