Meitheal at Coláiste Muire 2019 & onwards 

Meitheal  – the word is an enigma perhaps, like many Irish words it cannot be directly translated.  It is best interpreted as an Irish tradition, whereby a team comes together to help and serve a farming community.   

Meitheal in a nutshell, is kindness in action.  “Let’s take for example, I need to get my hay fields cut, the neighbouring farmers and I would get together and harvest the hay.  Then I in turn, would help others to harvest another farmer’s crop”,. says Ms Culhane Meitheal facilitator at Coláiste Muire.   

The team is made up of ten 5th year students and the community that they serve are generally the first year students.  The lucky ten are trained in leadership and team building skills.  What makes it sociable and fun is that the students come together for training from schools all over Cork City and County.  “Training is for four days, with a follow up refresher half day,” says Pa Cotter, Meitheal coordinator at Scala.  It all takes place in the spacious house and wooded grounds of Scala Retreat Centre, Cork.  The energy and fun generated is superb.   

“I often hear a student say ‘I never thought that  I would get picked’,” says Megan Sarl, the outreach co-ordinator at Scala.  Selection is not about being an academic or an extrovert, the basic common denominator in Meitheal is kindness and a willingness to help.   

Meitheal at Coláiste Muire is about recognising First Year needs and addressing them through activites like guided school tours, pop up café’s, Kahoot quizzes, fun activities, Sports Day, a Halloween movie, training in hands only CPR for all 125 First Year students and whatever other creative ideas the team may have.  

It is ensured that a minimum of classes are missed and meetings are held at lunch time.  The team learns how to prepare and run an event, informing students and teachers in advance, staying positive when faced with challenges and ensuring that all events are inclusive. Meitheal is unique and a privilege for both facilitator and students.  It gives young people an opportunity to shine in their own right.  Some of the key traits developed in the process are kindness, sensitivity to others, listening skills and an awareness of oneself through event management.  Watch this space.