In June, 2008, the first Gael Scoil (Irish school) was started by AOH Mercer County Division 10 at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville. The successful program closed with all 17 students learning about Gaelic football from the Delaware County Youth GFC players and coaches, and then giving it a go themselves.
The school was the dream of Mick McCabe, Division 10's treasurer and native of County Leitrim, but very quickly had the complete backing of Division 10 and its president, John Walsh.
"We have 50-50's, beef and beers, golf tournaments, all of which raise money, but none of which promote Irish culture and that is what the purpose of an Irish-American organization should be. Division 10 is committed to making this youth school our signature annual event," said Walsh.
The two day school, for children ages 7 to 17, had classes in dance, music instruments, geography, history, storytelling, language, bagpipes, Irish song and sports and was successful in part due to the support of Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, which donated the use of the school and its grounds, and members of Ladies AOH Div. 10.
After the first Gael Scoil's success, organizers got together to plan for a second Gael Scoil for 2009. It was decided that summer time had too many distractions, so a date near St. Patrick's Day was chosen, said committee member, Tom Slattery.
By asking other AOH divisions for sponsorships, the Gael Scoil team increased the student count to 26. Many of the Gael Scoil II students walked with their own float in the 2009 Trenton St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The school's committee has been working since September on the third annual school, which will now take place this weekend.
New classes will be featured in addition to an hour-long live hookup with students in Ireland. The committee is hoping that 50 students will take part in the third school and that in the future the school's will attract students from the Philadelphia area as well as the Garden State.
For more information, or to inquire on being a contributor, student, and/or sponsor, contact Mercer County AOH Division 10 at www.aohdiv10.org, or (609)587-3208.