Primary school students Sinead Kelleher and Aubrey O'Toole from 4th class Cork Educate Together represented over 300 primary school children around the country, when they presented a book called 'Our Ocean – Marine Legends, Fairy Tales and Folklore in Ireland' to President Faure of Seychelles at SeaFest 2019 in Cork from 7th to 9th June.
Having completed the Marine Institute's Explorers Education arts project, the children learned about local and national marine folklore around Ireland, including tales about giants, mermaids, fishermen to magical fish, and mystical islands in the Atlantic. Inspired by the stories, large pieces of artwork and poems were created by the children, and were then displayed in a special expedition at the Marine Institute's Wild Atlantic – what lies beneath? Expo during SeaFest 2019.
Accompanying the visit by the President of Seychelles, the children also showcased their work in the exhibition and presented the book on ocean folklore to the Minister of Agriculture Food and the Marine Michael Creed T.D, as well as the current Lord Mayor of Cork Councillor John Sheehan.
Shazia Waheed, the Explorers Programme Outreach Officer from Lifetime Lab@ OldCork Waterworks experience said, "This was a fantastic project for children to learn about our ocean. By introducing the children to the marine through a combination of cross curricular lessons including the arts, English, geography and history, the teachers were able to introduce elements of living things relating to the ocean, as well as recognise the influence of the ocean through our art and culture."
"The level of awareness that the children developed and shared is clearly visible through the bright colourful artwork, poetry and models we got to see on all of our school visits," Waheed added.
"I was really excited working with the teachers and children on this project as we showed how the ocean impacts our life while linking it to our heritage in Cork. One class group prepared a special project on the Vikings and explored connections with Scandinavia, while another group delivered presentations on unusual sea life around Cork harbour through song and dance, which was great fun."
Producing the book on behalf of the children, Cushla Dromgool-Regan, Manager of Explorers Education Programme explained, "sharing our stories with a wider audience at SeaFest, including the Island Small Nations delegation visiting Cork during the Our Ocean Wealth Summit, highlighted the importance of engaging with our marine heritage through story-telling at a local and international level.
"As we tackle today's issues of climate change, extreme storms and rising sea levels around the world, the stories of mystical islands lost at sea to heroes and heroines overcoming adversity, reminds us of the importance of reconnecting and engaging with our ocean in new ways," she said.
More information on the Explorers Programme can be found at www.explorers.ie. #OUROCEANFOLKLORE