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

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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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