Larne and Inver pupils link up with an award-winning author

Larne and Inver pupils who were among those who took part in the video conference with children's author Marita Conlon-McKenna. INLT 08-603-CON
Larne and Inver pupils who were among those who took part in the video conference with children's author Marita Conlon-McKenna. INLT 08-603-CON

Larne and Inver’s P6 and P& pupils have joined one of Ireland’s bestselling children’s authors, Marita Conlon-McKenna, for a video conference to talk about her book Under the Hawthorn Tree, the first instalment of her world-famous Children of the Famine trilogy.

The event was organised jointly by, who provided and managed the technical facilities on site; C2k, who provide the ICT infrastructure to all schools and National Museums Northern Ireland. The event was supported by O’Brien Press.

Larne and Inver’s pupils enjoyed watching and listening remotely with 114 other schools as the event took place at the Ulster American Folk Park.

Avril Allen, C2k’s services delivery manager, said: “All schools across Northern Ireland have access to videoconferencing technology through the virtual classroom videoconferencing service provided by C2k, which enables them to collaborate locally and internationally and encourages the pupils to broaden their horizons by developing new collaborative and digital skills.

“It is our aim to increase the awareness and usage of virtual learning through exciting interactive projects like this. A videoconference with the author of one of the most popular books taught in NI schools adds real value for the pupils and gives teachers a reason to use C2k’s videoconferencing technology. Our strong partnerships with, National Museums Northern Ireland and O’Brien Press are key to the success of such opportunities.”

Peter Simpson from added: “ have once again teamed up with C2k to bring this unique event to schools across the country. provided the Outside Broadcast facilities at the Ulster American Folk Park through their Outside Broadcast truck and satellite service. This unique combination allows C2k to provide live and interactive events such as this from anywhere in Europe.

“This is the second combined event of its type provided by the two organisations from the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. We are indebted to our colleagues at the Folk Park and O’Brien press for their support in this venture.”

Catherine McCullough, head of learning and partnership at the Ulster American Folk Park said: “Working with C2k, the team from and O’Brien Press has been an exciting learning partnership for National Museums Northern Ireland. As a result of this collaboration, many school children have had the chance to meet and talk to this famous, award-winning children’s author about Under the Hawthorn Tree in the unique setting of the Ulster American Folk Park, both through the power of technology by videoconference, and in person. We look forward to seeing the follow-up Famine project on C2k’s digital learning platform which will be available to all school pupils in Northern Ireland.”

Ivan O’Brien, managing director of O’Brien Press said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to work with the Ulster American Folk Park and C2k on such a wonderful project. Marita Conlon-McKenna’s books are essential reading for all children, and this work will only enhance that – an ambitious cross-border interactive video session and permanent online video drawing the reader into Under the Hawthorn Tree are things we could only have dreamed about when the book was first published in 1990! They will help to bring Marita into the homes and classrooms of a whole new generation of children.”