The aim of Transition Year at St Mary’s Secondary School Edenderry, Co Offaly, is to provide a bridge enabling students transition from dependent type learning connected with the junior cycle, to more independent learning connected with the senior cycle. Emphasis is also placed on promoting the personal, social, and educational development of students. It was this ethos that was the driving force behind a communal textile art project undertaken by St Mary’s current Transition Year students.
Led by Home Economics Teacher Rosemarie Quilty Sharry, students collected positive memories associated with a deceased relative / antecedent by talking to family and friends to discover things like their favourite colour, animal, place, food etc.
As Rosemarie told us:
“Thinking or talking about people in the past doesn’t always have to be a sad thing. This project gave students a concrete way of talking to parents, relatives, and friends about lost loved ones in a new and positive way. Communal textile art lends itself to allowing conversation to flow as people stitch together, ensuring students had a safe place to share stories and realise the importance of remembering those whom we have lost.”
Even better is what one of the students told us:
“It was a lot of fun and something different for a Home Economics class. It kind of sparked a few memories as well when were in the process of doing it.”
Students then wrote short phrases and used felt to create images that encapsulated these memories. Felt was chosen in preference to other materials because of its softness acted as a metaphor for the comfort of these memories. The finished creations were then stitched together to make a beautiful symbolic comfort blanket for display in Edenderry’s library.
Inspiration for the project came from a deeply rooted Sicilian tradition dating back to the 10th century of celebrating those who are no longer alive. Known as ‘the day of the dead’ or, in Sicilian, ‘u juornu rii muorti’, it takes place on the 2nd of November every year. Celebrations include placing flowers and candles on the graves of dead relatives and friends. In some areas of Sicily children also awaken to find presents ‘brought’ to them by deceased relatives left on their beds. Known as ‘The Night of the Sugar’, these presents are generally sweets and toys.
Naturally, this project culminated with a school celebration involving lots of treats, sweets, mess, conversations, and fun, as can be seen in this short video.
For more about St Mary’s Secondary School Edenderry visit this website: http://www.stmarysedenderry.ie/