Monday memorable day for Reenascreena
By Jackie Keogh
FOR young and old alike, Monday, August 31 last, was a memorable day in the life of Reenascreena village.
Grandparents who attended Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne more than fifty years ago returned to its latest incarnation with their grandchildren.
The school that was originally built in 1951 was brought back to just four bare walls, last February, and transformed by the firm of Hurley & White Builders of Dunmanway.
Everything about the building is new and fresh including the design by architect, James O'Hea, and the decor, which in many ways is unique.
High ceilings and tall windows in each of the three classrooms reflect the beautiful but bold colour choices and makes for a very cheerful atmosphere in the new school.
Situated on a small green hill surrounded by other small green hills, the vista is one of a rolling landscape and mature trees, that looked vaguely tropical given the monsoon weather conditions outside.
Monday was the first day back to school for the fifty pupils at this three-teacher school. It was not, according to the school principal, Jean Dignan, an official opening.
"We will have that soon and invite everyone who has helped and supported us over the years."
It didn't stop proud parents and grandparents turning up to see the children - under the care and guidance of the school principal and teachers, Mary Ronan and Rina Murphy - explore their new school.
Young girls threaded colourful beads while the boys settled down to play with serious looking Tonka trucks and diggers.
David O'Brien was there with his granddaughter, Lorna. She is eight-years old, the same age David was when he moved from the old school - which is now home to the community hall and the playschool - to Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne.
"This school offers them so much more," he said. "It's bright, it's colourful, it's airy and the three teachers are just great. We have a lot to be happy about, including the €400,000 provided by the Department of Education and Science.
"Jean, the teachers and the board of management - under the chairmanship of Jerry O'Sullivan - deserve great credit for getting the funds under the grant scheme for small schools," he said. "They didn't go to one TD or councillor and they still got the grant!"
The new school has a spacious entrance hall, three large classrooms with their own boys and girls' toilet facilities, an office manned by the school's part-time secretary, Geraldine O'Connor, a staff room, a classroom for the three resource teachers Anne O'Driscoll, Fiona Deasy and Vera Coomey.
There's also a music room where Martin Power teaches and a separate toilet block that comes complete with wheelchair accessible facilities and a shower.
The school is considered by many to be the hub of this small but sprawling community, which Jean Dignan describes as being "close-knit, but open enough to still welcome people in."
Here, she said: "The day you need a hand there is a meitheal of people who come on board to help you. They were there for us when we set about improving the conditions in the school.
"Today is a new chapter for us at Scoil Náisiúnta Rae na Scríne - it is wonderful to have up-to-date facilities at last."
In recent years, there have been a lot of positive developments in the village, which is noted as being the birthplace of the Irish Fenian leader and prominent member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.
There's a monument to him at the crossroads, but the attention of a lot of visitors is probably first drawn to the old chimney stack from the former weaving mill.
Another focal point in the village is the five wind turbines on the hill and O'Driscoll's pub, which is also located at the crossroads.
Eighteen months ago, J. J. O'Driscoll re-opened the bar after spending almost €500,000 on a completely new pub, two town houses and an apartment for short-term letting.
J. J., who is a member of the school's board of management, acknowledged that the investment does buck the trend given the decline in the pub trade specifically and the recession generally.
The business has been in his family for three generations and a make-over was due, especially as the bar is the venue of choice for a myriad of community events.
So, while some villages around the country are facing decline, there is a clear indication that Reenascreena seems to be consolidating its position, especially as it is now home to more people who are choosing to live in a rural setting and commute to work.
Located less than five miles to Rosscarbery, nine miles to Dunmanway, eight miles to Clonakilty, and twelve miles to Skibbereen, Reenascreena is definitely well placed.
A lot of tourists are drawn to the area because of the Carrigfadda Hill Walk, which was constructed last year on Coillte lands. Rising to the top of Carrigfadda Hill, walking enthusiasts have - on a clear day - great views of Galley Head and Mount Gabriel.
The next walk on the hill is scheduled for Sunday, October 4 next. For further details contact Noel Fitzpatrick on 023/8869039.
With its good school, St. Peter's Church, a nice pub, the Carrigfadda Hill Walk, community hall and playschool, Lisavaird co-operative shop and post office the village of Reenascreena meets a lot of local needs.
The stream that leads to the Argideen River and the bridge does lend itself to comparisons with Ballykissangel, but one local person joked that it's probably closer to Killinaskully!
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