IT was plain sailing at Lough Graney last Friday as Flagmount National School pupils took to the water on a boat made out of scrap wood and milk cartons. The vessel, which is entirely handmade out of recycled material, hoisted the Clare flag and set out on its maiden voyage on Lough Graney with 24 pupils aboard.
The project was set into motion arising from the green transport schools’ programme and while the school had encouraged its pupils to cycle or walk to school, it was suggested by a local couple that the children could get involved in building their own mode of environmental transport.
School principal, Pat McNamara outlined that Flagmount National School had been a hive of activity at the end of last term and the pupils were now being given an opportunity to see their hard work come to fruition.
Nearly all of the pupils at the school were involved in helping with the assembly and collecting the recycled materials, while the older children were largely involved in the more difficult construction process.
“This year, under the green schools programme, our school has been working towards the green transport flag and the children have been cycling, walking and car pooling to school.
“With the help of Stefan and Sandra Schwitalla we thought we would build a raft made out of recycled wood and milk cartons. It is most unusual and has 850 two litre used empty milk bottles screwed onto the frame that keep it afloat. The boat can carry 24 to 30 kids,” he said.
Through building and designing the boat, the pupils were able to cover a lot of different topics on their school curriculum, such as floatation, the properties of air and reading maps and it aided their social, personal and health education.
Having been launched from the White Sands and blessed by Fr Brendan Quinlivan, the 15ft by 10ft boat made its way around Lough Graney on Friday with the children paddling strong, using their hurleys as oars.
It was evident, not only by the boat but also by the convoy of bicycles that came to the White Sands on Friday afternoon, that the school places a high emphasis on green transport.
Róisín Ní Gairbhith, An Tasice co-ordinator of the Green Flag for transport, seemed very impressed with the effort made by the senior class pupils and teachers, who had travelled to the launch by bicycle.
Following a successful first run, the boat is now in the yard at Flagmount National School, where people can stop by to have a look at it and information will be made available about its construction.
Pat hopes that it may be brought out as a treat for the children every now and then and on special community occasions.