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Seaside scenes and stories collected in new kids anthology

OCEAN stories, written by children across Clare and Limerick have been compiled into a colourful new anthology to mark an international celebration of the seas.

Produced with the support of The Marine Institute’s Explorers Education Programme, An Ocean of Stories – An Anthology of Children’s Ocean Stories captures tales of adventure and imagination and highlight humanity’s reliance on the seas for survival. The book, published by Explorers Education Officer Carmel Madigan, includes over 50 stories, artwork and poems that were inspired by children’s ocean experiences. Its launch coincides with World Oceans Day on June 8.

Patricia Orme, Joint Acting CEO of the Marine Institute, congratulated Carmel Madigan and the Explorers team on the launch of the book. “Carmel always puts the children first and this book has helped children find a positive place in a time that has been challenging for many in primary schools over the past year,” she said. “While we celebrate World Oceans Day – The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods, this book reminds us of our childhood experiences and our love for and relationship with the sea.

“Reading the stories of children jumping off piers and their stories of the adventures of rock-pooling reminds us of how fortunate we are to live on an island surrounded by the ocean, where we can enjoy amazing beaches and coast-line.  Each of the children’s stories are engaging, capture the imagination and highlight the importance of our inter-connection with the sea. I am sure many will treasure this wonderful book in years to come.”

Ms Madigan, of The Loophead Summer Hedge School, ran the Explorers project with 14 classes over the last school term to engage teachers and children in the idea of documenting their experiences and memories of the seashore and the ocean. With the production of ‘An Explorer’s Personal Story Writing Guidebook’, and a series of short videos, as well as Zoom sessions, the children were guided through the process of capturing their own stories about the ocean, through a series of creative writing exercises.

“I am delighted that I was able to bring something to the classroom that was fresh and new to the children with this project,” Ms Madigan said. “Working with the teachers, and the Explorers team, we created a positive experience for the children promoting a sense of wellness and well-being. The stories are the children’s own, their lived experiences intertwined with creative thinking. Some are pure fact and some are pure fiction – all were a joy to read. The children should be very proud of their contributions. They are truly beautiful, engaging and thoughtful, making for wonderful insightful reading, whatever your age.”

More than 300 stories were produced by the children, highlighting the importance of including marine themes on the curriculum. “The stories and poems produced by the children conjure up many memories of sand in the sandwiches, being tumbled by waves, to having a big ice-cream on the way home,” said Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Explorers Strategic Education Manager, and the Camden Education Trust. “I am sure that for many who read this book, they will also turn the pages smiling with similar recollections of their own seashore and ocean experiences.

“Carmel has delivered a number of valuable projects with children over the years and her experience as an artist, author and ocean enthusiast is reflected in her work for the Explorers Education Programme.  I sincerely hope that this book inspires those that read it. As one of the stories written about a sailor’s adventure traveling across the seas says: the ocean may separate us physically around the world, but it provides us the opportunity to bring humanity together. Well done to all!”

The Explorers Education Programme is managed by the Camden Education Trust. For further information about the Explorers Education Programme, see the Explorers contacts page on Marine.ie.

Teachers, educators and those interested in marine education can also find more information on Facebook, @ExplorersMarineEducation; and Twitter @explorersedu.

The Explorers Education Programme is funded by the Marine Institute, Ireland’s State agency for marine research, technology development and innovation.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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