ROBERT’s DEN – the start of our new school Library

The late Robert Dunbar, who championed children’s literature on the pages of The Irish Times for many years, is remembered by a memorial fund which presents libraries worth €1,500 to four schools annually in Ireland. We were selected as one of the recipients of the Robert Dunbar Memorial Libraries.

The school received the following:
· A library of books worth €1,500
· A framed certificate to accompany each Robert Dunbar Memorial Library
· 60 x Inis Reading Guides, 12 x A2 Posters, 288 x Stickers, 300 x Bookmarks
· Resource packs addressing encouraging reading in our school, setting up a school library, setting up a book club and recommended reading lists for schools
· 2 author/illustrator visits
· 1 training session for school staff to expand on resource packs and answer questions
· 1 year’s CBI membership

Drawing of Robert Dunbar by Laureate na nÓg, P.J. Lynch

The CBI (Childrens’ Books Ireland) team came to do a handover of the library, along with author/illustrator visits for the students and training for the staff.

Frank Galligan, author, poet, journalist and broadcaster, inspired 5th and 6th class to express their thoughts on environmental damage caused by plastic ‘Blowing in the Wind’. Read about Frank’s many talents and achievements HERE

See Lauren’s illustrations of the story of Gulliver’s Travels HERE

Malachy Doyle, author, shared his great stories with junior and senior infants and engaged them in creative and dramatic expression.
Find out about Malachy’s many lovely books HERE

We are very thankful to Carol Dunbar, Robert Dunbar’s widow for joining us on this special day

This is the award – winning submission written by our principal, David Oliver. Thank you so much on behalf of all the children and staff of Ballyraine school. We are fortunate to have you championing us and look forward keenly to see our dream of a school library come into being.

We have a dream! In a small corner of our school there is a lonely alcove. It lies nestled in the corner of a room we call ‘The Port’. It contains memorabilia from H.M.S. Gromongen which delivered coal to ‘The Port’ bridge in Letterkenny. The wall is decorated with old lanterns, a spade from the port and an original lifebuoy from ‘H.M.S. Gromongen’.
It is a magical place, right in the heart of our school. All around, busy children and teachers hurry up and down the corridor. But in ‘The Port’ strange and magical things have started to happen. The once abandoned alcove is suddenly a blaze of colour. The children and parents have created a land of adventures…. A land of mysterious happenings and bizarre, larger than life characters, flying elephants, balloons flying skywards and a tree house nest home. It is a land of stories and storytelling where books drift skywards to distant planets and faraway places.
Pride of place is given to a large wooden sign. The words ‘Robert’s Den’ have been painstakingly crafted by a master wood sculptor. The sign hangs above empty multi coloured shelves. The floor space is covered in bright bean bags and oversized, comfy cushions. The only thing missing are the books.
Suddenly a pointed quill magically appears on the wall. It is moving slowly and steadily across the painted wall leaving a ‘coded message’ for C.B.I:

Dear Sir/Madam,
‘Robert Dunbar was a true legend. He inspired a love of books and reading wherever he went. He even occasionally found himself ‘in character’ on the pages of picture books.
We would like to create ‘Robert’s Den’ in Ballyraine National School to provide a vibrant reading zone … a place where all our children could take ‘time out’ to enjoy the magic of books.
Help us make the magic happen and with our new library books we can all ‘Let Go, Let Fly’.
Yours sincerely
The Ballyraine Book Buddies

Robert Dunbar: the Father (Christmas) of Irish children’s literature
Oliver Jeffers, Derek Landy, Eoin Colfer, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Kate Thompson, Patrick Ness and many more pay tribute HERE (on the Irish Times Website) to this champion of Irish children’s literature, the wonderful Robert Dunbar.