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.

Visit of Lithuanian Ambassador to Carlow

Carlow County Development Partnership were delighted to be part of the Carlow delegation which welcomed the visit of the Lithuanian Ambassador Egidijus Meilūnas to the county yesterday, February 21st. He was accompanied by Dr. Giedrius Janauskas Vice Dean in the Humanities Department at the University of Kaunas. The visit acknowledged the positive contribution made by the Lithuanian community in the county and explored possible areas of co-operation in the future, including schools and cultural projects. The Carlow delegation consisted of the Cathaoirleach of the Council, William Paton, Kathleen Holohan,  Chief Executive Carlow County Council, John Brophy, the Chair of Carlow LCDC, the Chief Officer Michael Brennan , John Shorthall,  County Librarian, Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, President of Carlow College, Helen Maher,  Programme Board Chair: Citizenship and Community Studies, Carlow College and Karl Duffy,  Social Inclusion Manager of Carlow County Development Partnership,

We have supported the Lithuanian community over the past few years in capacity building events around maintaining their own culture,  and through funding towards the Lithuanian preschool premises and also through our support in the SICAP Programme for the Carlow Integration Forum and its events. The chairperson of the Forum is a Lithuanian National, Sandra Kazlauskaite, who has been involved in numerous programme with us over the years, included the holistic Body Mind and Soul Programme as well as in her role as co-ordinator of Failte Isteach – a community based volunteer language and welcome programme which we also fund.

We wish to continue and develop this support for the community going forward beyond or support for the pre-school,  and this support will begin with two small school-based projects over the next few months.

Firstly, to celebrate the important year of the centenary of regaining Lithuanian statehood in 1918, we are going to organize and sponsor a prize in one of the schools in Carlow town for the best project by a child which focuses on Lithuanian history or culture. We will aim this at children aged around 10, and hope that the Ambassador himself, or someone from the Embassy staff will help us to select the winner.

Secondly, we are going to link a class from a Carlow National School  – over the internet – with a school in Lithuania, maybe to develop a common project on the different cultures.  Once again the Ambassador agreed to help us identify an appropriate school in Lithuania.

The meeting also discussed the psychological challenges around young people developing their identity between two cultures and explored possible research ideas between the University in Lithuania and Carlow College.

Overall, a very positive exchange of ideas and energy.

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.



Community Development: Carlow Cricket Club

Established in 1834 one of the oldest cricket clubs outside of Dublin is opening its new home grounds today. This event is a clear demonstration of the changing face of communities in the county and the richness which this can contribute as the  arrival of refugees is being credited for the revival of Carlow Cricket Club. With a mix of Irish, Eastern Europeans, Australians, Asians and the Rohingya community Carlow have been able to have two adult and two children's teams.



Carlow County Development Partnership are delighted to see Carlow Cricket Club and the Rohingya community receive national attention for all their hard work on the revival of cricket in Carlow. It has been great to be apart of this community project. Well done to all concerned!


To see the RTE story



Promoting Inclusion: Rohingya football team supporters


Nice to see the picture of the young Carlow supporters of the Rohingya team on the UNICEF twitter page cheering on the team in their new jerseys with the Carlow Integration Forum logo:


photo Photograph: Kenneth O Halloran at the Irish Times

You can watch the RTE report here:







Promoting Inclusion: SICAP support for Rohingya community

Carlow County Development Partnership were delighted to be able to support the Rohingya community's participation in the UNHCR and Sport Against Racism Ireland Fair Play Football Cup event on July 2nd. This event is Ireland’s largest World Refugee Day event, and saw 20 teams of men and women playing in the annual tournament at the Law Society Gardens in Dublin.The tournament featured teams drawn from refugee and community groups, direct provision centres, NGOs and members of the media. Along the Rohingya who come from Myanmar, approximately 160 players from a host of different countries took part, including  Angola, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.
We were delighted to be able to support the team through the provision of a new kit, which  member of the CCDP Board Joe Butler and SICAP Development Worker Annette Fox presented to the team on Saturday. They proudly wore the jersey as they met with  David Stanton T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Justice & Equality, and as they played, making it to the quarter finals of the competition.  This tournament  provides a wonderful opportunity for different communities to come together to commemorate World Refugee Day and celebrate the changing face of communities in Ireland.
The new jerseys got the team noticed by the Irish Times: you can read it here:



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"



Hello Carlow How Are you Day

Carlow County Development Partnership are delighted to support today the Hello Carlow Day in association with Carlow Mental Health Association, and in particular to be in Rathvilly this morning meeting people supporting the campaign, be it in the Post office, the Parish Priest or teachers and pupils in the National school.

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.

Promoting Inclusion: Older Person Forum; Fundraising and Strategic Partners


The Carlow Older Persons Forum goes from strength to strength and is engaging in a number of initiatives this year to heighten awareness of the needs of older members of the community as they access important daily services. We are particularly happy to note the development of a key strategic  partnership with the Bank of Ireland  in this work this year. The bank branch at Shamrock Plaza organized a lovely Bake Sale on Friday May 19th, with all proceeds going to the Forum. We are happy to report that over 700 Euros was made. A special thanks goes out to all who baked the wonderful array of treats including members of our own Carlow County Development Partnership staff, and to Derek the Bank Manager who facilitated the whole event.

CCDP works with individuals and community who aim to improve the lives of their community or their group. Older persons have a significant contribution to make their the Carlow community and the Older Persons Forum aims to make their voice heard  by service providers and organizations.