Project Type:
Community, Education


Participant Group:
Children from the Traveller Community and their classmates

Artists :
Mary Branley, Sarah O'Keeffe, Alice Dixon

Scoil Iosa, Ballina

National Museum of Ireland, Ballina 300, Mayo North East

Exploring Family Histories: A Collaborative Project with Scoil Iosa in Ballina

Kids’ Own is thrilled to announce a new collaborative project with Scoil Iosa in Ballina, Mayo. This innovative initiative brings together children from Traveller and other communities to explore and share their family histories. What makes this project particularly remarkable is that among the participants, twelve pupils have great-grandparents, providing a rich tapestry of generational experiences to draw upon.

Facilitated by associate writers Mary Branley and Sarah O’Keeffe, alongside artist Alice Dixon, the project sessions promise to be both enlightening and engaging. Through a series of workshops and activities, children will delve into their family stories, discovering connections, traditions, and personal narratives that shape their identities.


Project Highlights

– Intercommunity Collaboration: Children from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate and honour their family histories, fostering understanding and appreciation for each other’s cultural heritage.

– Generational Connections: With the presence of great-grandparents among the participants, there’s a unique opportunity to bridge generational gaps and preserve intergenerational wisdom.

– Creative Exploration:  Through artistic expression and storytelling, children engage with their family narratives in dynamic and imaginative ways, creating vibrant artwork that reflects their personal connections and experiences.

Scoil Iosa project
Scoil Iosa Project


Project Updates:

Sarah O’Keefe reflects on the first session in Scoil Íosa,  “On April 19th we were delighted to return to Scoil Iosa, Ballina for our first session with the 5th class students. Both Mary and Alice were greeted with warm hugs and welcomes from the 6th class students from last year’s workshops and exhibition. There was a great sense of excitement amongst the group, an overall eagerness to be creative! The session began with a light meditation session lead by Alice. The students were invited to lie down on cosy mats and blankets and imagine their favourite place whilst listening to beautiful music. They were invited to think about places that could be real or fictional, it could be with friends and family or by themselves, but it was their place and whatever they loved most. After the meditation the students began to create the place they envisioned in the format of watercolour and pastel artwork. The results were beautiful, ranging from ocean sunsets, mystical forests, to football fields. The students at Scoil Iosa have a tremendous amount of talent and creativity, we look forward to seeing what the future sessions have in store!”

Mary also added ” Our new book project got underway with fifth class last week. After a short guided meditation the children got started on beautiful watercolor paintings of a special place, real or imagined. Oceans, forests, sunsets, and more emerged in no time. I’m looking forward to all the stories related to these landscapes.”

We extend our sincere gratitude to these organisations for their commitment to fostering creative expression and cultural understanding among children in our community.

As the project unfolds, there’s a growing sense of excitement and discovery among participants. With more sessions still ahead, we anticipate further exploration and creativity to unfold. Stay tuned for updates as this inspiring journey continues, culminating in the publication of a book filled with the participants’ vibrant artwork and narratives.


For the final sessions the children were able to try sculpture using quick dry clay. Our associate artist Sarah O’Keeffe gives us a detailed account of the fun and creative session below.

“For our final two sessions the children of 5th and 6th Class had the opportunity to try a variety of different creative activities that everyone enjoyed. We began Thursday’s session working with quick dry clay, students were invited to create something that was important to them resulting in a wide variety of creative outcomes from pets, football players and pitches, friends, flowers, and ice cream to the adventures of “The Super Crab-Frog Family”! It was lovely to see the students work independently, and also in collaboration with friends, their projects literally “spoke” to one another in a fun and beautiful way.  The second session began with illustrations using colored paper and oil pastels. Some beautiful drawings included flowers, nature scenes, characters from favorite games, and football players – they really like football. After the illustrations the students were invited to go outside to splash and throw paint against a canvas on the building wall. Everyone loved this, there was a lot of fun and great technique resulting in a unique canvas painting any famous street artist would appreciate. Finally, the students had the opportunity to decorate the building windows with chalk drawings. There were many laughs, and thankfully, no school uniforms were harmed during the making of these projects.”

We are looking forward to sharing the final book made from this wonderful project with you.

This project is made possible thanks to the generous support of our funders:

National Museum of Ireland

– Ballina 300

Mayo North East