Fáilte Isteach: A snapshot of diversity on a Friday morning

Over the past 20 years we have seen the transformation of Carlow from a homogenous to a multi-cultural society and this has brought huge richness in terms of new cultural expressions, different viewpoints and a vibrant sharing of different experiences. A small snapshot of this can been seen in the Fáilte Isteach groups which met this morning (Friday 9th March) in New Oak Centre, Carlow town. 14 different nationalities were present from Europe, Africa, Latin America, South American and Asia representing the remarkable richness which is now present in this small county. Fáilte Isteach created a welcoming space, modelling a vision of diversity and integration through the volunteer local tutors engaging in conversational English with participants from places including Brazil, Ukraine, Guatemala, Cameroon, and Nepal.

It is one of the key elements of support which Carlow County Development Partnership provides in order to accompany individuals as they move from the status of strangers and outsiders to being welcomed newcomers and friends on to active, enduring contributors in the social and institutional fabric of Carlow society.

A great energy and enthusiasm was present in the groups and in the simple practical gestures of a smile and a cup of coffee, encouragement was given to the different hopes of individuals as they seek to make Carlow their new home.

SICAP Programme - Integration and diversity: Winter Festival

The Carlow County Development Partnership SICAP Programme was delighted to support the 'Winter Festival', hosted by Carlow Integration Forum on December 2nd in An Gairdin Beo.


This event was a great success with wonderful food from around the world, music, and entertainment. More than 130 children visited Santa and had lots of time to chat with him and get a small gift. A grotto was created in the garden, marshmallows were toasted and Christmas wreaths were made. There were lots of activities for the little ones and indeed for everyone. All activities, Santa visits, and the food was free to all who attended. Santa arrived in a spectacular Pink Cadillac, The garden twinkled with fairy lights and it was a magical afternoon. Special thanks to Clonmore Meats for providing the wonderful car for Santa and letting the reindeer have a rest for the big night! Special tanks to Santa for his early arrival and continued updates on his progress to Carlow. Special thanks to Kevin Kelly for the festive refreshments. Thanks to everyone who worked so incredibly hard to make this event such a success

In current Irish policy, integration is defined as the ‘ability to participate to the extent that a person needs and wishes in all of the major components of society without having to relinquish his or her own cultural identity’, thus highlighting the needs for events that allows migrants express their identity through culture, food and music.

The 2017 Migrant Integration Strategy reminds us that "successful integration is the responsibility of Irish society as a whole and will require action by Government, public bodies, service providers,businesses,NGOs but also by local communities". This event showcased the collaboration that this possible between a Local Community group (An Gairdin Beo) and the Integration Forum which supports new communities, supported by the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme. The focus of the event was to allow recent migrants to the county interact with the host community and participate in a cultural event, highlighting in this case their their own traditions and food.
The success of the event built on the excellent work being done by the Failte Isteach Programme which creates the connections and energy between the individuals who then came forward to support the Integration Forum. The warm atmosphere in the Garden was built upon the friendly informal engagement which is the characteristic of the Failte Isteach Programme.



Promoting Inclusion: The Failte Isteach Graduation

On Thursday June 15th the 2016- 2017 Graduation Ceremony for the Carlow Failte Isteach Programme took place in the Seven Oaks Hotel.  22 different nationalities were present to see Certificates presented by Jim Deane,  the Lord Major of Carlow to 45 students who had completed the Programme in the past year and to hear encouraging words from Pat Deering TD and Micheal Brennan,  Chief Officer at Carlow County Council. There were also inspiring and moving testimonials from Zena and Jason, two of  the volunteer tutors on the programme as well as from some of the participants themselves. There was also a lovely musical ending to the evening with Beiba, one of the students, performing two songs for the assembled group.

In his opening words, Karl Duffy,  Social Inclusion Manager with Carlow County Development Partnership spoke of the dramatic changes which have taken place in Carlow and the rest of Irish society over the past 25 years:

"In its essence, migration is an expression of a desire for happiness and quality of life which is proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued. And now in Ireland we are in a position to offer a welcome to people coming to us in search of a better and happier life, and to accompany  them on that very human quest. One of the goals of the SICAP programme is to support people on their journey towards personal development and greater participation in the social and economic life of Carlow. And the way we like to do this in Carlow County Development Partnership is by supporting those members of the Carlow community who are motivated to work for greater inclusion and,  in the case of Failte Isteach, to welcome people who have come to Carlow in a very practical way, by helping them with their English.

Sadly, we hear reports from all over Europe and from Ireland of responses that are rooted in fear saying that we should close our doors. But what we see in Failte Isteach is an attitude aimed at overcoming indifference and countering those fears by a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors. So I welcome you to this evening -  a celebration of steps made on a journey together, an acknowledgment of a job well done and a looking forward to a positive future. We are very proud of this programme -  of the work done by Carlow County Development staff, of our coordinator Sandra, of the volunteer tutors - and intend over the next few months to reshape, expand and make the Programme even stronger"



Promoting Inclusion: Failte Isteach: Isabel's Story


Isabel Galetx is from Pamplona in the Basque region of Spain. In 2016 she relocated to Ireland with her husband Biktor and 2 sons and is now living in Bagenalstown. Her younger son Oihan has successfully started in St Brigid's Boys National School and her older son Ekai in the Vocational School and she has been amazed as to how quickly they have adapted to the life here and nearly speak English like a native.

"They are embarrassed of my English" she laughingly says"When they bring friends home and I try to interact with them, they tell me to be quiet, as I have such a strong Spanish accent".

The boys quickly made friends on the estate where the family is living:

"There is a football net on the green in front of the house. On the first day they were shy, but once they went out and joined in they were quickly welcomed by the other players"

Isabel got in touch with Failte Isteach in January and has been a regular ever since in the group that meets in Oak Park Community Center every Monday at 6.  She also attends the small group that has started to meet recently in Bagenalstown Family Resource Centre. One aspect she really enjoys about the classes is the big mix of nationalities.

"I am really happy to meet with all the different nationalities" she says. "At home we would not have had the opportunity to meet as many different nations as here in Carlow. I like to meet new people so I am really happy with this".

She pays tribute to Sandra, the Co-ordinator and all the tutors in the way they have made her feel so welcome from the first day. She has been inspired by the whole model and thinks that it would be great to see something similar set up in her native Spain.

Failte Isteach is a simple,  friendly,  way of promoting greater inclusion and participation in our local communities. It has the extra aspect of providing opportunities for volunteers to contribute to their communities and engage actively in society. The energy and warmth in the groups are palpable on Monday evenings and Friday mornings in Carlow and on Thursday evenings in Tullow. Feel free to drop in or get in touch if you would like to take part and do something really worthwhile.

Social Inclusion: Failte Isteach language and welcoming Programme


The Failte Isteach Programme welcomes migrants into the county through conversational English classes in an informal,  welcoming setting. It meets three times a week in Carlow Town and Tullow and could not function without the dedication of a team of fabulous volunteers who give of their time to run the classes. The efforts of these volunteers are hugely appreciated by Carlow County Development Partnership but also by the students, as can be seen by this beautiful cake which was presented by a student to one of the volunteer tutors last week.

The Programme is run in the New Oak Community Center on Monday evenings 6 to 8 and on Friday mornings 10 - 12. In Tullow it runs in the Forward Steps Family Resource Center on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8. It takes a little break this week for Easter but feel free to drop in when it resumes.

The lack of a language is one of the greatest barriers to full inclusion and participation in society, which is one of the goals of the SICAP programme.  For further details get in touch through the contact page.

Community Development: The Integration Forum and St Patrick's Day

Ireland’s population has become increasingly diverse over the past two decades, and this is evident in all the towns and villages in County Carlow. Carlow County Development Partnership CLG is committed to the development of a county in which migrants and those of migrant origin play active roles in communities, workplaces and politics, underpinned by a respect for, and celebration of, diversity. Also we are working to mobilize local communities to promote integration.

One way in which this is support is through the assistance and mentoring given to the Carlow Integration Forum. Therefore It was great to see them  – and some of the individual communities which are part of it – so strongly represented at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Carlow Town. The diversity of different nations which have made Carlow their home is rightly now represented on this day which celebrates an increasing diverse understanding of national identity.

Carlow County Development Partnership SICAP Programme supports the  Lithuanian Community School and also runs the Failte Isteach Language and integration programme in Carlow town and in Tullow.


If you are from a new community and would like to receive support with language training, other forms of training or just advice, please contact Annette at 086 8545136


Tullow Area

Fáilte Isteach Classes

Fáilte Isteach

Failte Isteach continues to run its conversational English classes for anyone wishing to learn English in a welcoming environment. Feel free to drop in on Monday evenings, 6- 8 in the New Oak Community Centre, Carlow;  Thursday evenings, 6 – 8 in Forward Steps Family Resource Centre, Tullow;  or Friday mornings 10 – 12 in the New Oak Community Centre, Carlow.

The Failte Isteach English Language and Integradion Programme nadal będą kontynuowane w poniedziałki i czwartki wieczorem w New Oak Community Centre,  Carlow. Nowi członkowie mile widziani. Wystarczy tylko skontaktować się z 0851218811

Failte Isteach anglu kalbos mokymo ir integracijos programa ir toliau sekmingai vyksta Pirmadieniais ir Ketvirtadienuais – New Oak Community Centre, Carlow. Norintiems smoky anglu kalbos mielai kvieciame prisijunkti, arba susisirkti telefonu 0851218811.