Gilson Summer School 2014 Programme

Programme 2014

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Declan Coyle, ‘The Green Platform’ Keynote Speaker, 2014


We are delighted to announce that Declan Coyle will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 Gilson Summer School.

He is one of Ireland’s most internationally experienced leadership training and development consultants. He is also much sought after as a conference keynote speaker. Declan is also the author of ‘The Green Platform: Simply Life Changing’ a system developed to help people make more positive choices in their personal, business or sporting lives when facing large or small crises and difficulties

He delivers Keynote addresses  to Blue Chip companies, Government Departments, Sports Teams and Individuals. He works with diverse sectors including Banking and Financial Services, Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical, Information Technology, Insurance, Regulatory Bodies, Professional Services and Unions.

Declan regularly addresses and inspires senior management teams and CEOs in companies across the globe: Ireland, USA, Canada, Brazil, UK, Holland, France, Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, The Philippines, and Australia.

And he is coming to Oldcastle in May 2014!

You can read more about Declan’s approach to life here and about The Green Platform.

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Summer School Dates Announced

The 2014 Gilson Summer School will take place over the weekend of 9th and 10th May.

Among the events already planned is a Symposium on the teaching of philosophy in Irish Primary Schools. Education of recent years has placed great emphasis on children learning to ‘think’ as opposed to rote learning without reflection. The importance of encouraging critical and imaginative thinking and indeed critical spirit in children is seen as central to our social, economic and cultural future.  Philosophy is one way of engaging in abstract thought and is therefore much more than a pleasant activity for young children.

The symposium will included a paper from a staff member of a school in Co. Cavan that has integrated Thinking Time into their 3rd and 4th classes’ curriculum.

If you would like to present a paper, suggest a topic or would simply like more information, please email us

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Highlights of Gilson Summer School 2013

We will shortly be announcing the dates, themes and speakers for the 2014 Summer School, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights of the 2013 Gilson Summer School:

If you’d like to read our Report, you can download it from the link below:

Report on Gilson Summer School 2013

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The Singing Voice

As if there wasn’t enough going on in Oldcastle for the Gilson Summer School, we’ve added a new Talk & Workshop with Mallika McCarthy!

‘The Singing Voice: A Human Birthright’

2.30pm, Saturday 11 May, @ Gilson Summer School, Oldcastle

A talk and voice workshop based around the idea that singing is as natural as breathing; exploring how we can learn to navigate the landscape of our voices outside of classical tuition styles; highlighting inclusive, experiential learning, and working with playful tools which allow us to access the freedom of our natural voices, and open up and deepen our singing experience.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Talk followed by Workshop starts 2.30pm, Cost €10. Register

Or at Gilson Summer School Office, Gilson School, Church St, Oldcastle on Saturday 11th May (office opens at 10am).

Download more details here: Voice Workshop

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Education for Imagination – some of the events happening this year!


The theme for the second annual Laurence Gilson Summer School is ‘Education for Imagination!’ The school, held in Oldcastle, Co. Meath will run from Friday 10th May to Sunday 12th May.  Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the organisers are delighted to announce that this year’s keynote address will be given by Mark Patrick Hederman, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, on Saturday 11th May.    His most recent book, The Boy in the Bubble, looks at the flaws in the Irish education system and how it should be doing more to develop the imagination of our children to help them meet the challenges that lie ahead.

The school will open on the evening of Friday 10th May with a talk on Bishop Thomas Nulty of Meath, given by Frances Tallon of Meath County Library.  This talk will continue the theme of commemorating those who benefited from Gilson’s bequest, with Bishop Nulty having received his early education in the Gilson Endowed School in Oldcastle.  In addition to his religious duties, Dr. Nulty was fully involved in the secular matters of his day and was a defender of the rights of the tenant farmer.   In pastoral and pamphlet he gave his views on subjects ranging from second level education to town water supply.  His famous publication was ‘Back to the Land’,   published in April 1881 in which he argued the case for reform in the system of land tenure then prevailing in Ireland. He became embroiled in the bitter controversy of the ‘Parnell Split’, on the anti Parnellite side.

Saturday 11th May will be the main day for discussions, talks and presentations.   As with the first summer school, the organisers are planning a mixture of formal panel discussions, learning outside the classroom environment, and a variety of presentations and performances.  Panels so far include ‘Imagining Difference’ which will consider the topic of educating for difference for people who, for whatever reason, do not fit in to the standard educational system, and ‘The things you can only imagine’, which will explore the role of imagination in new technologies and how these can be used to illuminate subjects not always thought of as requiring imagination.

Saturday evening will see a interview between John Quinn and Manchán Magan on the theme of ‘My Education’, and also the keynote address by Mark Patrick Hederman.

In keeping with a national theme for 2013, Sunday May 12th has been given over to ‘The Gilson Gathering ‘ a clan reunion and a school reunion for all past pupils of the Gilson Endowed School, and also for anyone whose surname is –or was – Gilson, Gilsenan, Magilsenan, Gilshenan or any variation.    There will be plenty happening that day, with talks, music, displays of memorabilia, and lots of opportunities to catch up with long-lost friends and distant relations.

For more information contact

all the logos

This project has been co-financed by Meath Partnership through the Irish Department of Environment, Community and Local Government ‘Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007-2013’ and through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.

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Education for Imagination!

‘Education for Imagination!’ is the theme for the 2013 Laurence Gilson Summer School which will take place in Oldcastle, over the weekend of  May 10, 11 and 12.

A thesauras offers the following alternatives for ‘imagination’:










If these are the kinds of concepts you’d like to see applied to education in Ireland today – come and join the debates, the discussions, the endeavour at next year’s Summer School!

If you have ideas or suggestions for topics or speakers, please send your ideas to:

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