Pilib learnt some Irish at school, which was not common at the time something that was not very common at that time. He grew up with the language being spoken around him and always had an interest in it. He participated in a Féis when he was 7 years old. However, Pilib says, “I don’t think that I would have had the opportunity to learn Irish if I hadn’t been sent to prison. That was where I had the chance to learn Irish properly.”

When he was released from prison in 1985, Pilib started working with others who wanted to establish an Irish nursery school in north Belfast. He also began to teach the parents of those who were interested in setting up the nursery school.

Pilib recalls how he wanted to send his own daughter to an Irish nursery school. It was not an easy task. In the end, he and Sean Hayes, who was in charge of the Irish nursery school in the Markets area of Belfast, decided to join together and set up an Irish nursery school for both the Markets and Short Strand areas of Belfast.

The school, Naíscoil an Droichead, was established in a snooker hall in 1991. There were some odd requirements because of it being in the snooker hall, such as the children were not allowed to play with sand and water. They also had to keep the curtains closed during the day such was the fear of Loyalist attack.

A primary school was later established called An Droichead, which translates in English to The Bridge. It was located in the Lower Ormeau community and was so named as it was seen as the physical link between the Markets, Short Strand and the Lower Ormeau communities.

 “With relation to the schools, the main thing is that they have to be as good, or better then the English schools. They have to compete with them.”


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