Date: Thursday 31st of January 2013
Location: Kilmodan Primary School, Glendaruel
Workshop: Glendaruel – what do we know about our home?
Walking Youth Theatre Team: Fiona Lochhead and Alana Mathers
The workshop began with a brief chat with the pupils about Glendaruel, and what they already know about the Glen. It was clear the history of the Glen was a subject that the children did not know a lot about, but they were very enthusiastic about the landscape, farmland, sights, nature, and wildlife that can be found in and around Glendaruel.
To get the pupils thinking about their favourite things about Glendaruel, we played a word association game, where a circle was formed, with Fiona in the middle, throwing a soft ball to the children who had to respond with a word that linked to life in the Glen. Words such as “sheep, hills, rain, river, Dunans Castle, fields, farms, shinty, Kilmodan Carved Stones” were often mentioned.
Following this, the pupils were then to create a poster for Glendaruel, drawing their impressions of the Glen. It was interesting to see what the children drew – mainly their impressions of the land, and many representations of Dunans Castle and the river.
We then moved on to talk about the name “Glendaruel” – what does it mean, and why? The Gaelic translation “The Glen of the Red River” was discussed, and we got the children to think about why it would be called the “Red River”. Fiona told a story about Vikings, which mentioned the theory of blood from a great battle caused the river to run red, hence the name River Ruel. In groups, the pupils came up with their own ideas as to why the River Ruel is called this. Great feedback from them, with ideas such as “the rust from swords from ancient battles, “the best place to see Mars”, and more thoughts on the Viking battles theory, with one pupil telling us of a local Viking grave on the road to Tighnabruaich.
The session was nearing an end, but we did get the pupils to begin writing a postcard to someone who has never visited Glendaruel before. We ran out of time on this activity, but would be keen to develop the letter writing idea and encourage the pupils, particularly the older classes, to use this as a tool for discovery and research within the project.
From the afternoons’ session, it was clear the areas which have to be developed with the pupils to help shape the heritage centre project. Many of the children were very knowledgeable about the land, and the focal points of the Glen, but little did they know about the history of the area. Workshops on the different eras of the Glen would be most useful, to encourage them to engage with both history, and Glendaruel as a site. The majority of the pupils mentioned and/or drew Dunans Castle, but little knew about the history. The history of the Castle & Bridge may be another useful area to cover.
In conclusion, the children were very enthusaiastic about engaging with the project, and with Glendaruel. Nearing the end of the afternoon, it was interesting to see many of the pupils conversing with each other about the Glen, discussing points of interest, and things they had heard their parents/grandparents mention about the Glen in passing. There is a whole host of knowledge about Glendaruel and the surrounding areas within the children – extracting this information will take time, but by workshops and visiting speakers, the children will play a very big role in the development in this project.