A GAELTACHT school on Cape Clear Island has opened, despite fears that it was set to close.
Following retirements at Scoil Náisiunta Oileán Cléire, the school board advertised for a new principal and teacher, but in the countdown to the new school year, it looked as if the posts would not be filled.
However, islander Séamus Ó Drisceoil, has now confirmed that a new principal has been appointed and that the school opened this week with six pupils enrolled. The teaching position has yet to be filled but islander Bríd Ní Ghríofa – well known as a substitute teacher at many schools on the mainland – has stepped into the breach for now.
Mr Ó Drisceoil said the islanders are ‘happy that the future of the school is secure for the coming year.’ And he acknowledged that recruiting teachers to national schools on offshore islands is a recurrent problem.
‘The island was very fortunate, in the early 70s, when two gifted young teachers settled on Cape and spent the rest of their teaching careers in the island school, but since their respective retirements it has become more difficult to recruit teaching staff,’ he said.
At the start of August, the community sent out a virtual SOS looking for teachers and they set out their stall by highlighting the attractions of island living. They promoted the fact that the school – which had 11 pupils enrolled in 2017 – is attractively located at the island’s South Harbour. They also extolled the delights of community life including the island’s rich outdoor pursuits, as well as its music, social and cultural appeal.
Mr Ó Drisceoil said: ‘We are hoping that these wonderful amenities will continue to be attractive to all kinds of people, including teachers seeking career breaks, teachers with families interested in a different pace of live, even for a time, or indeed older teachers, nearing retirement who are ready for one more adventure in life.’