Offaly visitors to the European Parliament pictured with Sean Kelly, MEP. From L-R: Sandra Nolan, Mary O’Carroll, Sean Kelly, Pat O’Carroll, and Dolores Killian.

Offaly group visits European Parliament

Four Offaly people were among those who paid a visit to the European Parliament last week, following an invitation from Seán Kelly, MEP.

Pat O'Carroll, a farmer from Edenderry, and his wife Mary, were among those who made the trip, while two Offaly natives working in primary education were there as part of a group of five from the education sector.

Sandra Nolan, Principal of Crinkle NS in Birr was part of the teachers' group, as was Dolores Killian, a Ferbane native who teaches at An Grianán NS in Mount Temple, Westmeath, and is a member of the INTO Education and Research Committee.

The trip was designed to give an insight into the workings of the European Parliament and to discuss matters of importance to the visitors.

Joining the local teachers on the visit were Pia Hughes, Principal of St Hilda's Special School in Athlone, Alice O'Donnell, a Wicklow-based special education teacher, and Dr Celia Walsh, a former director of Waterford Education Centre who is now working at third level.

The group received a tour of the European Parliament, as well as a parliament information session, and had an opportunity to talk about educational matters at primary level.

"The five of us are passionate about education and it was an incredible honour to receive this invitation and to have the opportunity to speak about educational matters very close to our heart for the benefit of the pupils in our own schools and for Irish education at primary level nationally," explained Dolores Killian.

In addition to visiting the European Parliament and some other sites in the Belgian capital, the group had an opportunity to further experience the country's culture by visiting Ghent, Bruges, and Yvres.

They stopped at the Island of Ireland Peace Park, near Ypres in Flanders, Belgium, which is a war memorial to the soldiers of the island of Ireland who died, were wounded, or were missing from World War I.

The site includes a 110-foot tower partially built with stone from a former British Army barracks in Tipperary, with the remainder of the stone coming from a workhouse outside Mullingar.

Dolores said she and the other educators on the trip wished to sincerely thank Seán Kelly MEP for a wonderful learning opportunity in Brussels, which they enjoyed immensely.

Seán Kelly is himself a former primary teacher and a past president of the GAA.