Film producer David Puttnam yesterday weighed in behind an exuberant Christmas song performed by West Cork schoolboys and children from a remote African tribe.

The magical across-the-oceans festive collaboration by primary school pupils in Clonakilty and children from the nomadic Samburu tribe in Kenya was launched in the town at the weekend.

The Samburu tribespeople are also known as The Butterfly People for their colourful headgear, jewellery, and clothing.

The ‘Butterfly Child’ song — which yesterday reached Number 37 on the iTunes list — and the eye-catching video which accompanies it, have now attracted the attention of internationally renowned fillm-maker and educator David Puttnam, who lives in West Cork.

Yesterday the movie mogul made a special visit to Scoil na mBuachaillí in Clonakilty to meet the teachers, pupils and representatives of the Thorn Tree Project who are behind the song.

“This is a wonderful example of the way in which a range of digital technologies has enabled Irish generosity and ingenuity to connect with a great cause on the other side of the world — and make it sing,” said Puttnam, who spent about an hour in the school.

The up-tempo melody is on sale for 99c on iTunes. It aims to raise money for the education of the Samburu children and for classroom equipment at Scoil na mBuachaillí.

“David Puttnam is very excited about the ‘Butterfly Child’ project and very supportive of it,” said Marilien Romme, one of the organisers. She is a member of the international educational initiative the Thorn Tree Project which supports the education of children of the Samburu tribe.

“He’s very interested in online learning and was fascinated by the way we were able to link a remote rural African school in an area without roads or electricity in this trans-world collaboration music project.”

The four lead singers, pupils from Scoil na mBuachaillí, Clonakilty, performing the song ‘Butterfly Child’.
The four lead singers, pupils from Scoil na mBuachaillí, Clonakilty, performing the song ‘Butterfly Child’.

“He is passionate about education, knowing that children are the building blocks of our future and teachers play an instrumental role. He wants to see more creativity in the classroom, and ‘Butterfly Child’ is a great example of this.”

The inspiring video features pupils of Scoil na mBuachaillí in Clonakilty alternating verses with the Samburu children from Northern Kenya who are pupils at the Thorn Tree Project’s schools.

Written by Scoil na mBuachaillí school principal Barth Harrington, who described the project as “inspirational for pupils and teachers alike”, the song combines Irish melodic influences with Sub-Saharan African chanting.

The number of Samburu children being supported through their education by The Thorntree Project has risen from just 130 in 2001 to more than 1500, who attend ools and three elementary schools.classes in twelve pre-sch

For more information: see

Download the song for 99c by searching for ‘Butterfly Child Scoil ‘ from iTunes or Amazon or Google Playstore


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