Spiorad na Gaillimhe (Spirit of Galway) sets sail in the South Atlantic

Pictured are the fourth class from Scoil Bhríde Lackagh with Sheena Fennell, Earth and Ocean Sciences, NUI Galway, teacher Tomás Higgins, and Principal Shane O’Connor. Credit - Tomás Higgins, Scoil Bhríde Lackagh.
Sep 22 2022 Posted: 11:35 IST

Spiorad na Gaillimhe (Spirit of Galway), an uncrewed mini-boat built and decorated by students from Scoil Bhríde, Lackagh, Co. Galway, has set sail in the South Atlantic this week.  

It is one of four miniboats – the others from schools in Spain, Germany and South Africa - that were deployed from the Alfred-Wegener Institute’s Icebreaker, R/V Polarstern, as it sails between Germany and South Africa.  

These four new vessels will join the 18 Educational Passages boats that are currently sailing around the world’s oceans. Spiorad na Gaillimhe is the first mini-boat to set sail in the South Atlantic 

This project was funded by the Nippon Foundation (NF) and POGO (Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean), and has provided the students in Galway with an opportunity to learn more about oceanography and ocean technology.  

Professor Peter Croot and Senior Oceanography Technician Sheena Fennell from Earth and Ocean Sciences at University of Galway worked with the school throughout the process, delivering ocean experiments and guidance with the build. 

Professor Croot said: “The students in Scoil Bhríde, Lackagh were responsible for constructing the boat, deciding on a name, decorating the sail and hull and, most importantly, had to decide what treasures to place in the hold for any lucky finder if it comes ashore.

“Once Spiorad na Gaillimhe sets sail it will regularly send its GPS location and values of sea and air temperature. The students will be working to predict where it will sail in the ocean by looking at weather and ocean current maps, thereby learning about our oceans.”

The principal Shane O’Connor and teacher Tomás Higgins were fundamental in ensuring the project was delivered.  

Mr Higgins commented: “The project was an engaging and great project for the pupils that's cross curricular in nature incorporating many skills and subjects such as science, maths, art and geography and gave us the opportunity to bring the theme of the ocean and ocean literacy into the classroom in a fun and interesting way. 

“We were delighted in Scoil Bhríde to have this unique and great opportunity, thanks to the support of Sheena Fennell, University of Galway, POGO and Educational Passages, to participate in the Miniboat Programme. And I’m delighted that my colleague Aisling White will continue on working with our pupils during this academic year and she looks forward to following the journey of Spiorad na Gaillimhe and continuing the project with the pupils."

Updates from Spioirad na Gallimhe can be found at https://educationalpassages.org/boats/spiorad_na_gaillimhe/

To follow all four miniboats involved in this international NF-POGO project visit: https://educationalpassages.org/events/pogo/ 

For further information, contact Sheena Fennell at sheena.fennell@universityofgalway.ie


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