Mary Coonan is a sewing tutor with a waiting list!
An experienced designer, she tutors in The Donahies Community School on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. That’s not all! She also runs classes there on Wednesday afternoon. And on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Whew!
“When the recession hit, people began to look at knitting and sewing again – about making and repairing things,” says Mary, who trained at The Grafton Academy of Dress Designing in Dublin. “Then, the likes of Aldi and Lidl started to sell sewing machines and wool at cheaper prices and that made sewing and knitting more visible and manageable for people.
“And, because sewing isn’t taught in schools now, a lot of people find they can’t do the basics, like sewing on a button.”
Now, people are into upcycling and recycling – and also love the social aspect of a night class. “We have people of all abilities in the class – you can go at your own pace and see how others have progressed as well. Not only that, but a lot of people say they forget everything when they come in, so it’s a lovely way to destress. No matter how bad the day, you’ll forget it when you start sewing!”
Mary always insists that people take time to enjoy the tea break. “Again, that unites the group and I get a chance to chat to people individually, so I get to know them.”
And there’s a great sense of achievement – “we do small projects that they complete in two nights, so you could have five things completed at the end of a ten-week class.”
Some of the items produced in the sewing classes at Donahies Community School
Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare, has an exciting selection of new courses, along with some returning favourites, for those who want to get in touch with their creative side! These courses are delivered by tutors with extensive experience in their respective fields!
Writing for Wellbeing: Release your inner scribe
Whether you want to awaken your muse or just get journaling, this is the course for you! The tutor, Mari Gallagher, uses a variety of texts and artistic themes to inspire freewriting exercises including the work of Julia Cameron, James Pennebaker and Karen Hering.
Freewriting has long been lauded as a wellbeing tool and can be used to overcome daily challenges as well as kickstarting the creative brain. The tutor is a psychotherapist and published author.
Students learn the fundamentals of writing songs starting with the very basics and finishing with them writing and recording a song of their own. The course covers lyrics, melodies, chord patterns, music theory and various genres of music.
Tutor Megan O’Neill is an Irish singer/songwriter who has worked in Nashville and London over the past seven years as a touring musician. She was teaching song writing workshops and private classes The Song Academy in London and is now implementing a similar program back in Ireland.
Introduction to Fashion Design
Gain an insight into what a fashion designer does and learn how to draft a pattern from you own design sketch as a professional fashion designer would. You’ll be taken through the early design stages, the sketch, how to transform the finalised sketch into a technical flat and how to transform these flats into a final drafted pattern which can be professionally produced. Both the pattern and the produced garment can be used as portfolio pieces which can be assessed by any potential employer in the industry.
Joanna Cribbin is the owner of the fashion label Joanna London. Her brand is sold in independent boutiques in London, Dublin and Galway. She has extensive experience in the industry, including working in Wardrobe for RTÉ, as assistant image editor on U Magazine, and as an assistant to John Rocha at China Town, and designing a raincoat which went on to become a best seller at A-Wear.
Ireland has a wealth of talented poets, playwrights and screenwriters. On the back of tremendous Irish successes such as Song of the Sea, Brooklyn and Black 47, there has never been a better time to try your hand at writing for film and television.
At the end of the course, students will be able to take home their very own short film script which they may submit to film festivals, script competitions or perhaps even go on to produce themselves. After completing the course, the only limit to your potential as a screenwriter for film and television is your imagination.
Release your inner creative talent! This course looks at various forms of writing including articles, essays, stories, and will cover topics such as dialogue, narrative, character development, research, etc. The techniques under discussion will be practised and writers will receive constructive comments from the class.
Tutor Shauna Gilligan is a novelist and short story writer from Dublin, now living in Kildare. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of South Wales, is an active member of the Arts Council of Ireland Writers-in-Prisons Panel and a Professional Mentor with Irish Writers’ Centre. Her debut novel Happiness Comes from Nowhere was a critical success.
As people become more aware of the effects of pesticides, herbicides and chemical preservation on our food and land, we are now returning to the much-prized skill of growing our own.
But it is difficult and often very confusing for someone starting out on this tantalising adventure. Set-backs in the initial stages can be very discouraging.
Gorey Community School, in Co Wexford, is running a night class in Organic Kitchen Gardening suitable for both the beginner and those who have gardened before and realise there are gaps in their gardening knowledge.
This course is designed to bring the gardener through the initial stages of setting-up, sowing and growing their own edibles in the garden, plot and pot.
Classes are held once a week and offer up-to-date information and advice on what gardening tasks should be done and how to do them at the most critical time of the growing year. Each class enables the learner to go home with some knowledge they can put into practice that very week.
This is a do-as-you-learn course. Participants gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to enable them to advance on their gardening journey, with lots of encouragement along the way.
They learn how to be self-sufficient in baby salad leaves, using just three large pots. They gain an understanding of how to care for their soil, the very basis of good health. They get to appreciate how nature works and balances, so there is no need to run out and buy sprays every time there is a problem.
This course brings the participant through the stages of sowing, growing, protecting and staking fruit, vegetables and herbs in a healthy organic soil.
Classes are delivered by a fully qualified horticulturalist with over ten years’ experience in the industry, so the information provided is the very best!
Tutor Ann Marie Mullen explains what her night class in Old Bawn Community School, Tallaght, Dublin 24, entails
“I believe that, for every problem or need you have in life, God has an angel who can help and guide you. I believe angels live in the spiritual realm, that they are always close to us and, if we can relax our busy minds and tired bodies, we can make contact with them, receive their love, wisdom and blessings.
In the classes which I have been running at Old Bawn for the last 18 years, I try to help the men and women who come to them make their own personal connection to the Angelic realm.
I try to show them that angels are everywhere even if they are not aware of them, even if they don’t know what angel is in charge of what. That there is energy, rays of light coming from God to help us and each ray is an angel. An Angel with qualities and gifts we can have access to.
In order to do this, I teach them to slow down, how to relax their bodies and minds so that they can become more aware of all the other energies going on in and around them. In order to do this, we practice relaxation techniques, give one another head, hand and foot massages, hands-on healing in the fragrant atmosphere of Aura Soma Colour therapy oils, pomanders and quintessences, in candlelight with soothing music playing in the background.
During the classes, we use all sorts of different kinds of Angel Cards that are on the market. Explore their artwork, the printed messages and what effect this information has on each one of us personally. To help us relax further, we use Bach and Bush flower remedies to help stabilise our emotions. At the end of the evening, I lead the group in a guided meditation. As they recline on the sofas and bean bags, I invite them to meet the Angel of the evening. They leave relaxed connected in a more meaningful way to an angel who supports them for the following week.
What students can get from the classes
Angels courses also run at other schools in our network.
Graham Brislane brings his lifelong love of woodturning and demonstrating to the night classes he tutors in St Tiernan's Community School in Dublin.
Graham Brislane has been the woodturning tutor in St. Tiernan’s Community School, Balally, Dublin 16, for about five years. His reaction? “I love it. I get great satisfaction in passing on knowledge.”
Woodturners in general are known for passing on their ideas and knowledge. He tries to give students a project each week, which they can finish and bring home with them. If students do not finish a project, Graham encourages them to bring the piece back the next week to complete it. As the weeks advance, the projects get progressively harder.
“It’s encouraging when a student returns for a second or third term. One student was with my predecessor, and still comes to classes each term. He doesn’t have a workshop or lathe of his own, but likes coming to classes. He makes a lot of items for use at home, such as plates, bowls and scoops. If not, he makes the project the rest of the class are making on the night.”
Graham has had an interest in woodwork from a young age, starting out making a badly shaped goblet with an electric drill and a cheap set of tools! Some years later, and undeterred by his early experiments, he bought a Record CL1 36” Lathe. “I made enquiries and got some lessons from a member of the Irish Woodturners’ Guild (IWG) and, in no time, I was turning away.”
A member of the Dublin Chapter of the IWG, Graham benefits from the IWG-organised demonstrations and competitions. There are about 20 IWG chapters around the country now, and an annual seminar with foreign demonstrators from as far away as Europe, the US and Australia.
Graham’s first ventures into demonstrating were in a primary school, where his wife works. Each year, he talked to pupils about the different types of wood from around the world, showing them samples of what can be made, and demonstrating how to make a small item. They loved seeing things like spinning tops being made, and would queue up to make it spin!
A number of our other schools also run Woodturning courses.
If stained glass is making a revival in Cork, it could be down to one man, James Nicholl, who facilitates stained glass night classes in Carrigaline Community School and Ashton Comprehensive School.
“Rather than picking projects for the students, I let them create their own projects in their own way,” says James, who himself is a traditional stained glass lead worker and artist. “The classes have proven hugely popular, with people aged from their 20s to 80, including a former master craftsman from Waterford Crystal. And the projects they do are relevant to their own lives, whether those are light catchers to hang on windows, 3D tealights, Tiffany lamp shades, mirror surrounds, or sidelights for front doors.”
Stained glass has a rich heritage in Ireland, which is not always appreciated in today’s throwaway culture, says James. “When churches were being built in Ireland from the 1820s to the 1850s, there was a great construction period in the Catholic Church and a Gothic revival period in the Anglican Church. That created demand, with craftsmen coming in from England working with local apprentices. However, that work died off, and stained glass now gets recycled from one church to another.”
James started his education journey by first teaching Transition Year students in Carrigaline about stained glass and its history. When the students’ parents asked him about it, he suspected there might be a demand for adult education classes in stained glass. “There’s probably no other course around that starts from scratch.”
Some items produced in the Stained Glass courses at Carrigaline Community School and Ashton School in Cork
Some of our Dublin schools also run Stained Glass courses.
Megan Buckley tells how a floristry night class led to her current role as manager of a flower shop
I first found my love for floristry when I started helping out for Valentine’s Day. My job was to wrap single red roses in the back room.
I was still a student in Ballincollig Community School and later went on to do a night class in floristry there. When I was doing my apprenticeship in floristry, I had to perfect the skills that I learned in the night class by working and learning with some of Cork’s master florists.
Since then, I have worked in the most beautiful flower shop, Cork Flower Studio, the very place where I started wrapping roses on Valentine’s Day. The flower shop that saw my potential from the beginning is also the flower shop that has made me an exceptional florist. I have worked my way up the ranks and I am now the Manager of Cork Flower Studio!
And, today, I am back in Ballincollig Community School, tutoring the night class that got me started! This is my second year tutoring there - I love teaching my skills and demonstrating in front of groups.
Floral arrangements from the Floristry class at Ballincollig Community School
A number of our NACED schools also run Floral Art and Flower Arranging courses for adults.
With conflict zones in many places across the globe, it can be difficult to make sense of world politics. One night class in Kinsale Community School, Co Cork, addresses geopolitics head on.
‘Disarming Global Conflict’ is an eight-week night class, focusing on the causes of conflict and human rights abuses. Each class incorporates a wide variety of audio and visual material to examine current political and social events such as the growth of terrorism in mainland Europe, nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula, and the use of social media as a propaganda tool.
The course covers topics as diverse as:
Ashbourne Community School photography tutor Michael Keane shares his story and provides top tips for aspiring photographersRead Now
Exploring digital photography is a wonderful opportunity to be creative, particularly today when cameras on mobile phones mean that you need never miss a chance to capture that memory. And, yet, we can always take a better photo, which is where digital photography classes come in.
Michael Keane took the scenic route to his digital photography night class, in part because of redundancy from his full-time job. “I worked in Waterford Crystal as a master glass blower for 25 years,” says Michael. When Waterford Crystal closed, he moved into garden furniture, opened a garden centre, and did landscape garden design.
“I realised that in the garden-related work, I was relying on the weather. So, one night, I made a list of things I wanted to do – driving instructor was first on the list, followed by photography. So, I bought a camera, and enrolled on a digital photography night class in Ashbourne Community School – and that led on to more studies. I did QQI Level 5 and 6 in photography and then went on to Dublin Institute of Technology to do a degree in photography.
“A lot of the projects I completed were around social issues, including one entitled ‘Fragments’, which examined the aftermath of road accidents. Other projects featured children with autism, nursing homes, the National Rehabilitation Unit in Dun Laoghaire. Later, I opened my own studio and training centre, teaching photography and working on wedding and landscape photography.
“Now, I’m involved in efforts to open a new creative centre, an artists’ co-op, in Ashbourne, Co. Meath, and in the Ashbourne Community Initiative and with the Tidy Towns working on the Broadmeadow River Trust.”
And the student has turned into a tutor – Michael tutors the Digital Photography night class in Ashbourne Community School. “I gear the class towards what people want and I email out weekly exercises and interesting sites and videos. It’s all about encouraging students to use the manual settings and to take a shot of the same object using the different settings, so that they can get an understanding of what their camera can do.”
So, what tips does the master photographer have for the snap happy among us?
Slow down. When you buy a roll of 35mm film, you have a finite number of images. So, slow down and become aware of possible images. Look at colours, textures, lines and become more aware of your surroundings. That will help towards taking better images.
Don’t shoot loads of images. Michael gets his students to produce six images, two each in different settings, so that they can appreciate the differences in the end photograph. Less is more!
Look at the lighting available to you. Everything you shoot is affected by the light, so look at the lighting available to you as that will determine what settings you need to use.
In the meantime, if you’d like to get better photographs from your mobile phone or DSLR camera, consider a digital photography night class. It could change your life!
Spain remains one of Irish people’s favourite destinations for holidays abroad – in a 2017 survey, 38 percent of adults chose Spain as their holiday destination. In addition, many Irish people live in Spain during our winter months – or all year round.
So, it should come as no surprise that Spanish is increasingly becoming a second language that Irish people need to master to some degree – or at least become familiar with for everyday contexts.
Mariana Jiménez Moreno moved to Ireland in 2010 and, shortly afterwards, she started teaching Corkonians how to speak Spanish!
Today, she delivers beginners and more advanced Spanish classes in Bishopstown Community School, Ballincollig Community School, Ashton Comprehensive School, and Carrigaline Community School.
“After I moved to Ireland, I did teacher training for ELE - a Certificate in Spanish Language Teaching to Foreign People – at the Instituto Cervantes, Dublin,” says Mariana, who hails from Madrid originally.
“A lot of different people come to the classes: from people who are in college to people in their eighties. Some people want a few words of Spanish to use on their holidays, or some want to learn Spanish because a family member has married a person from Spain or Latin American and they want to communicate better with them.
“In some classes, we have a very wide range of ages. I have students who want to train their mind and learn another language. Some people are retired and want to move to Spain (or already have a base in Spain) or want to learn to speak to Spanish-speaking grandchildren.
“Lately, I have realised that there are a couple students in each class who enrol to learn Spanish because they are doing the Camino de Santiago, they have already done it, or they are planning to do it. Or, in the September class, people come to learn Spanish because they have booked a holiday in Spain over Christmas.”
As with any night class, the social benefits are enormous. “In some classes, a lot of the same people come back each year. People become friends and get to know about each other’s lives. Recently, one of the class was in hospital and we sent a best wishes card written in Spanish.”
In terms of lifelong learning, Spanish is ideal in helping people to navigate social situations on holidays. “In the beginners class, we cover the basics, greetings, introductions, then different foods and directions. At the improvers classes, the participants know what they need – maybe going to a hairdresser when living or holidaying in Spain.
“Every class has a cultural element – so, for instance, at Christmas time, we cover what Christmas is like in Spain, compared to what it is like in Ireland.
“And, at the end of the classes, we go to a Spanish restaurant in Cork, so they can use their Spanish in a real setting. Or, in another class, we applied this in class where everybody prepared a tapas dish and explained in Spanish how they did it. Everyone is familiar with tapas!!”
Find out which schools in our network run Spanish classes here.
Tena Sheil’s professional life was transformed when she attended night classes in Gorey Community School. Over the next few years, she attained top marks in Accounting and now runs her own training and accountancy business. This is her story …
As the middle child of six, there was no expectation that I would attend third level education after my Leaving Certificate in 1986. I worked in sales, retail and retail management for many enjoyable years. However, it was my move into an administrative role, including finance in 2001, that rekindled my interest in getting a qualification.
An ISME/FÁS scholarship allowed me to follow the Accounting Technician qualification through Gorey Community School’s Adult Education Department. It was the first and best step that I have ever taken. The course was challenging but attainable, the tutors were knowledgeable and encouraging, and the setting and facilities were perfect for a mature student finding their feet after many years’ absence from the academic scene. The sense of achievement and the boost to my confidence when I was ranked in the top ten ATI results for 2008 was incredible.
My ATI qualification enabled me to join the third year of a four-year Honours Degree at the IPA. In 2010, I graduated with the highest mark in the Accounting stream and the CIMA Award for Excellence in Management Accounting. Then, I sat my professional exams with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in December 2010 and May 2011, achieving the equivalent of a Level 9 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
These qualifications have absolutely transformed the range of opportunities available to me. I now deliver accounting training from the absolute beginner up to the highest professional levels with ACCA and CPA. Coupled with this, I create bespoke training for businesses who wish to maintain their own accounting systems or better understand their financial situation. I coach business owners on attaining their own goals and maintaining an efficient and motivated workforce. With a growing range of private accounting and training clients, my intention is to grow my business and further develop the ways in which I assist businesses to grow and prosper.
Today, I am as passionate and enthusiastic about my future as I have ever been in my life and I put that all down to getting back into education as a mature student, setting achievable goals and ticking them off one by one.
Student turned tutor - how a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class changed the life of one participantRead Now
‘Adult education completely changed my life’
Deirdre Delaney is a big supporter of adult education – “it completely changed my life”, she says.
At 40, as a single mother, she went back to college, having worked in telecoms in different roles for years. “Whilst my work latterly involved account management and managing a call centre, it was all about people, and I always harboured a desire to study psychology and to go back to college.”
With redundancy on the horizon, she completed a 10-week Introduction to Psychology night class – “I knew then psychology was what I wanted to do”. Another night class in psychology followed and that took her to UCD as a mature student to study, yes, psychology! “Then I did a Certificate in Counselling before completing a post-graduate course in psychotherapy.”
Adult education helped Deirdre to change her career completely – from telecoms to psychotherapy and then tutoring. “I accidentally got into tutoring – I approached the adult education director in The Donahies Community School about delivering an Introduction to Psychology night class. In the meantime, I was also approached by NUI Maynooth to deliver the Certificate in Psychology and that runs in Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare.
Deirdre is also involved in an education outreach initiative offered by NUI Maynooth, called Communiversity. It offers a first point of contact for people who would not normally think of university as a place for them. Run in libraries one morning a week, Communiversity has been successfully rolled out in Dublin areas which have been identified as having low participation rates in higher education.
That sense of opening up lifelong learning to everyone is vital to Deirdre. “When I run a class, I tell my own story, because it’s important for people to see that all things are possible. After school, life happens to us, we stop writing essays, and we think we’re past it. We become terrified that we’re not good enough.
“But, as adults, we bring so much to education, we bring our life experience and ability to juggle things. We bring maturity and a focus to what we’re studying and a level of motivation – usually, we study something for our careers or to something we love.
“For me, I was terrified that first semester in UCD. I was in a class with people not much older than my daughter at the time. But once I got through those first Christmas exams, I loved it. I had the best three years of my life!”
Politics has never been more interesting! And, in Malahide Community School, a new night class in politics is being delivered by Michael Keating, former TD, Lord Mayor of Dublin and Minister of State.
This course is of interest generally – but also hugely interesting and relevant to anybody studying or teaching the new Leaving Certificate course, Politics and Society.
Entitled ‘Politics - Solving or Causing Society's Problems?’, the night class is a thought-provoking mind-opening examination of how politics works, who makes the real decisions in society, and how much say you have in the ways in which your life and wellbeing are shaped.
This comprehensive new course - presented over 10 evening sessions - will excite and intrigue all those interested in politics and social issues, hugely relevant given local and global politics. The course comes with a weekly set of free notes and vital references.
Amount the vital questions dealt with are:
People often associate self-defence classes with blocking and hitting and defending. But, not so with night classes in self-defence in The Donahies Community School, Dublin 13; Hartstown/Huntstown Community School, Dublin 15; and Old Bawn Community School, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
These three schools are offering a night class called ‘Self-Defence for All – Without Getting Hurt!’ The courses are open to all fitness levels, males and females of all ages from age 16 upwards. The aim is for students to learn accuracy and timing as opposed to relying on speed and strength.
The classes are delivered by tutors from Conscious Martial Arts, whose tagline is ‘Martial Arts without the muscle’.
We caught up with Karl, the administrator of Conscious Martial Arts, who explained that they believe that people stop going to martial arts and self-defence classes because they don’t want to get hit and hurt. “Our training has nothing to do with sparring,” he said. “We have broken down each of the moves so that people learn through gentle movements. This gets people to physically relax; the more relaxed you get, the better you get.
“Our training is based on correct body alignment and movement as opposed to reliance on muscle strength. It is based on accurate timing as opposed to reliance on speed. We also teach our students to be aware of and use space and distance.”
Action from self-defence courses delivered by totors from Conscious Martial Arts. Courses are available this Autumn Term at The Donahies Community School, Hartstown/Huntstown Community School and Old Bawn Community School.
Best of all, says Karl, is that people don’t have to be big guys or super-fit to learn this method of self-defence. “In one of our night classes, we have guys from their mid-20s to their mid-60s, all in the same class, learning the same moves, and mixing together. They love it!”
The physical relaxation is also beneficial mentally, grounding learners as they go through the moves. “Benefits include improved posture, breathing, walking, carrying – you become more efficient in how you move and that helps to reduce strains and backache.” Ultimately, the training develops fitness, body awareness, personal development as well as confidence.
"Studying Healthcare Support changed my career" - the story of an adult learner at Scoil Mhuire in ClaneRead Now
Many NACED schools offer the QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Certificate – and it is a minimum requirement for healthcare assistants.
For one night class participant, Natalia Tuminska-Dawid, studying Healthcare Support in Scoil Mhuire, Clane Community School, Co Kildare, has been a huge help to her in her role in a nursing home.
“It totally changed my career, I used to work in retail in Poland and Ireland, so this is totally different, and I love it,” says Natalia, who has lived in Ireland for 12 years.
Working with the elderly
“I have always loved the elderly and helping the elderly, so I really enjoy my work. The course really helped me in my job, it has helped me to understand what an elderly person needs. Before that, I would have understood some of it, but now I have a deeper understanding. I have even seen it in how I help my granny in Poland and, now, when I visit her, I am able to help her in a better way. Now, she’s waiting for me to visit to get expert help!
“All the modules were very helpful and I know that I want to stay working in the nursing home. I’m even thinking about nursing and maybe doing more study. Helping others is what I always wanted to do.
“I also enjoyed the social side of the course – I was doing some of the same modules with friends and I made Irish friends as well. I have so many Irish friends!”
Successful completion of the QQI Level 5 Healthcare Support Certificate provides a recognised qualification necessary for working as a healthcare assistant in a variety of settings, including hospitals, maternity care, day and residential care, community and the home.
It is suitable for those wishing to embark on a career in caring and those already working in the sector who wish to gain a recognised qualification. Successful graduates may progress to related health and social care courses in the Institutes of Technology through the Higher Education Links scheme by CAO application.68255