Kildare TY Students Graduate as Tour Guides

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Ten Transition Year students from Kildare Town Community School recently graduated from the
Kildare Centre of Mission’s pilot tour guide training programme.

The graduation took place in the school with Avril Ryan, CEO of Gaisce (The President’s Award)
presenting participants with Gaisce bronze awards and completion certificates. Success of the
pilot was described as transformational by students, parents, friends and teachers alike.

The programme which took place across the 2023/24 academic year, enabled young people from
Kildare town and its surrounds, to interpret and share the story of their own town especially
focussing on St Brigid’s Cathedral. The programme was led by Kildare Centre of Mission’s
Pioneer Evangelist, Kelley Bermingham.

Kelley began the programme by creating a group agreement and setting the tone for the weekly
sessions. It is the first time a programme of its kind has been run where students had a chance to
co-create the focus sessions and inform the process from the outset.

Dean Isobel Jackson and Rev Philip McKinley, Lead Evangelist also led sessions and focused on
the person of St Brigid as well as their roles within the Cathedral.

Other subjects which were covered by the programme included aspects of personal and
professional development, the spiritual tourism of the Cathedral and the town: event
management, health and safety, the importance of a good welcome (role play was fun but
insightful), dealing with difficult conversations, travel and tourism, history, public speaking,
research and presenting facts. Five students undertook an intensive week-long placement, and
found this to be valuable. Based in the Firecastle café, they had the opportunity to meet local
members of the community with whom the Kildare Centre of Misson regularly engages with.
1st February 2024 marked the 1500th anniversary of St Brigid’s death and was an important day
in the calendar for the students who assisted, supported and participated in the Feast Day
celebrations. Students also visited St Brigid’s Cathedral and selected their favourite aspect of the
Cathedral for a more in-depth piece of research.

As part of the programme there were two significant site visits to other cathedrals – St Canice’s
Cathedral, Kilkenny and St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin to compare and contrast their
experiences, noting accessibility, quality of welcome, interpretation aspects and general issues
related to a pilgrim’s experience.

In August 2024, the TY students will support a Kildare Centre of Mission concert featuring local
artist Niamh Strong, who will sing the songs of Eva Cassidy. She will be joined by members of the
Newbridge Gospel Choir and funds will be raised for the local women & children’s refuge – Teach
Tearmainn, Kildare.

St Brigid’s Cathedral is ideally positioned to provide opportunities for engagement with young
people to support them to learn to love and appreciate their cultural assets, as well as understand
the living church context. Exposure to international visitors and pilgrims as well as a domestic
audience (whether congregation, clergy, interfaith or otherwise) is a skill that has proven to build
confidence, create areas of specialism, support professional, spiritual, and educational focus.

This group of 10 young people (aged 16+) were inspiring to work with and will prove to be
invaluable no matter what team they join. As a group, they each supported each other, committed
wholeheartedly to their chosen aspects, challenged themselves to overcome nerves, build
resilience and encourage all involved with constructive, solution-focused interventions. They were
attentive, and demonstrated great kindness. They are astute observers of all around them, and
have great ideas on how to make the world a better place for all. A team to watch!
Congratulations to the students Olivia, Cailyn, Lily, Carter, Sarah, Felicia, Seán, Molly, Evlin, Nicola
and the Kildare Town Community School Team, especially Síobhán Keogh, Chaplain, Frank
O’Sullivan, Gaisce Co-ordinator, Mr John Hayes, Principal and all who supported the programme.