Reading, writing… Latin and Gregorian chant on timetable at new primary school

A newly opened primary school has looked to the distant past in drawing up its new curriculum.

thousand-year-old Gregorian chant will be taught to children who enroll at the Stella Maris primary school which has taken on its first pupils.

Latin will also be taught to enable students to engage with the liturgical chant in its true form.

Richard Casey, principal at the Limerick school, said they were responding to the demand from parents for a classical education in the Catholic tradition.

He said: “Classical education has three stages of development: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Except for me, all the teaching staff are volunteers and we have a French person who will be coming in to do French classes. There has been a big upsurge in the US and across Europe in the demand for Catholic classical education. We are the first primary school with Gregorian chant and this will form part of our music subject.”

The school has sourced a building near the city center at Windmill Street and is dependent on voluntary funding to finance its operation. Mr Casey said: “We are independent of the State system and the Department of Education. I worked in mainstream primary education for 10 years.

“The teaching is committed to the Catholic faith and there is a growing desire among families who want this for their children. We have got great support from Catholic orders such as the Friars in Moyross and the Institute of Christ the King at the former Jesuit church in the Crescent and lay Catholic groups.”

The first eight students to enroll include three in junior infants, one in senior infants and four more between second and fifth class.

He said: “The Gregorian Chant will be supervised by a teacher who has volunteered to work with us.

“This liturgical unaccompanied vocal music goes back to medieval times and I think we will be the only primary school offering this to young people.

“This helps with the development of religious understanding, spirituality and music. It also gives the ability to learn history and heritage with the overlapping of Gregorian chant.”

Mr Casey said they will embrace the state school curriculum but will also offer Latin and French.

“We have been contacted by people in various parts of the county who have indicated their desire to have their children given the education we offer: belief in God, the church and its teaching. Faith is at the heart of our school life,” he said.

“We are starting small and we are in no doubt the numbers will grow.”

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