In June 2018 a cluster coordinator dedicated to Munster was placed in Knocknaheeny in Cork city. There had already been a number of Clár TechSpace sites set up in Munster before this role began but mostly in Gaeltacht areas. The plan was to grow the Munster cluster and expand in counties such as Cork.
A Digital Summer Camp was put on offer by the TechSpace network and a group of local young people attended the camp in Knocknaheeny. This was one of the first overlaps between youth work in the area of Knocknaheeny and the TechSpace network in Munster.
The week itself had everything from 3D printing to planning and producing a podcast. There was one young boy Jack Sheehan who was unsure about some of the tasks as he had never done anything like this before. One thing Jack was sure about was that he loved pugs! When we were in the studio recording Jack’s anxiety got a little overwhelming so we went outside and had a chat, by the end of our chat Jack had learned that my job was all as Gaeilge and I asked him would he help me out and do a small recording as Gaeilge.
At first he was pretty hesitant but when I explained it could be about pugs he was excited. We wrote the piece together, with Jack correcting my “h-aon déag” to “aon bhlian déag d’aois” at one point and then we went through it a few times and added some phonetics in just in case. He went into the studio and recorded it from start to finish in one take.
This Summer camp played a major part in learning what purpose Clár TechSpace could have in the local area and the Munster cluster as we met with young people like Jack who would not normally use Gaeilge but was happy to use it in a creative setting and also other young people who attended the local Gaelcholáiste. Following on from this Summer camp the cluster in Cork city grew rapidly and Jack was a major part of that growth, him being part of the Munster Cluster helped us learn what young people in the area would expect and require from the Clár TechSpace.
Jack went on to win the ‘Cúpla Focail’ competition at ESB Creative TechFest in Google with his mom and dad watching proudly from the audience. Not only was winning a major accomplishment for Jack but it was the first time he had ever travelled on the train or gone on stage on his own. Seeing the confidence that this Clár TechSpace experience gave Jack was brilliant. He has since offered to ‘help me out’ as Gaeilge if I ever need it again!
Having young people like Jack as part of our TechSpace clusters is an invaluable resource that we can call upon to create the best programmes for young people.