Ryan Ó Raifeartaigh, Emma Ní Fhlannabhra and Emily Ní Shíocháin celebrate with teacher Avril Ní hÓráin. Also pictured are Antoine Ó Coileáin, CEO Gael Linn, and guest chairperson Peadar Caomhánach, Green Party Irish language spokesperson.

Athlone Community College debaters are All-Ireland champs!

The gaeilgóirí of Athlone Community College are celebrating today after their junior debating team took the national title in Gael Linn's debating competition,Comórtas Díospóireachta an Phiarsaigh.

Emma Ní Fhlannabhra (captaen), Emily Ní Shíocháin and Ryan Ó Raifeartaigh emerged All-Ireland champions at the national finals, which were held in the Lucan Spa Hotel, County Dublin yesterday (Wednesday) evening.

The topic for debate was ‘Ba cheart dúinn uilig éirí as feoil a ithe!’ (We should all give up eating meat!). The team from Athlone Community College opposed the motion, along with Belvedere College, Dublin, while teams from St Mary’s College, Arklow and St Anne’s Secondary School, Tipperary Town spoke in favour of the motion. The Athlone team held their own against the strong competitors, thanks to their well-honed debating skills and the guidance of their proud teacher and mentor Avril Ní Óráin.

The five adjudicators on the panel – Seán Mac Labhraí, Máirín Uí Mhuirí, Áine Máire Ní Ghioballáin, Fergus Ó Conghaile and Antóin Delap – took some time in coming to their decision as the standard of debating was so high.

The triumphant trio returned to Athlone with the Junior Perpetual Cup, as well as with prize winnings of €1,000. It is another feather for the school debating cap, having won the senior title in the 2017 final.

Comórtas an Phiarsaigh is a national debating competition organised annually by Gael Linn for second level schools nationwide, with funding from Foras na Gaeilge. The aim is to promote the use of Irish in schools and among young people, and more then 150 schools have taken part in competition since the beginning of this school year.

Congratulating the winners on their accomplishment, Gael Linn CEO Antoine Ó Coileáin thanked the teachers for their help and dedication in preparing the teams: “The Gael Linn debates are very popular with schools because they give students the opportunity to research topics and to present their case in Irish before an audience. Comórtas an Phiarsaigh cultivates young Irish speakers and we are delighted that the competition is going from strength to strength.”