- Extra Curricular
In the early 1900’s Dr. Healy, Archbishop of Tuam gave a house in Baile Ui Bhanáin to The Gaelic League to found Coláiste Chonnacht, an Irish Summer College. This college flourished from 1905 to 1950. Scholars came from all over Ireland and from many European Universities to learn Irish.
Among the scholars that attended Coláiste Chonnacht were Sinéad Flanagan, wife of Éamonn De Valera, Padraig Mac Piarais and his brother Willie, the Dillon brothers Myles and James, Thomas Clarke and many others.
The local people in Tourmakeady were delighted at the new arrivals. The local community also benefited as there was a demand for Irish speaking households to accommodate the students. As one student in an article in The Catholic Bulletin wrote “All the farmers in the neighbourhood open their hospitable doors to the students. The whole district becomes a kind of residential university.”
As far as teaching methods and standards were concerned Tourmakeady College was ahead of the time and brought language teachers and scholars from England, Europe and America. Coláiste Chonnacht was a working holiday camp. Conditions were somewhat primitive, but morale was high. Much of the Teaching was out of doors, on the shores of Lough Mask and the slopes of the Partry Mountains. The Seilig became a new word; it meant a working picnic at the waterfall.
The directors of the college had great praise for the Mná Tíghe, all fluent in Irish, who took part in céilís, concerts and dances in their houses. Everyone was a teacher and the students taught each other. That was how things were in Tourmakeady at the start of the twentieth century. Christened “Clíabhán Chonradh na Gaeilge” by Dr Douglas Hyde, later to be first President of Ireland.