IN its 125-year history, thousands of primary school students in one small West Cork parish have benefitted from an educational system that was both personal and professional.
Derrycreha National School, on the Bantry to Glengarriff Road, was officially established in 1895: it was, in fact, a reincarnation of a former primary school, Drumgarriffe, that had become defunct.
An ancient roll book shows that during its first inspection in May 1896, there were 86 students attending the school – a group that ranged from infants to seventh class.
That is a much higher number than the 34 pupils that were on the roll book on March 12th, the day the school closed in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
Principal, Anna O’Sullivan, has been teaching at the popular national school for the last 11-years. She works alongside Angela Cronin, who has been teaching at Derrycreha since 2011.
Together, they rely on the ongoing support of the school special needs assistant, Marian Cotter, and their faithful secretary, Heather Dunn.
She said: ‘The ongoing success of the school is, at its very foundations, the fact that it is very family orientated: generations of local families have attended the school, both boys and girls.
‘It is a focal point for the parish too. There isn’t a week goes by without some sports or educational event that opens it up to the entire community.’
The construction of the one-room slatted school 125 years ago cost an estimated £300. However, there have been many extensions and improvements works at the school since then.
In 2009, the school underwent a major refurbishment with the construction of a brand new class for the infants’ class. The car park was extended, thanks to the kind permission of Dan Joe Holland, and an outside PE shed, and additional toilet facilities, were also constructed.
The finishing flourish was to make the yard – which offers amazing views of the Caha Mountains and the spectacular Wild Atlantic Way – an open space so the children could enjoy a greater sense of freedom while still be safely protected from passing vehicles.
Ms O’Sullivan said: ‘Derrycreha National School has throughout its long and proud history benefited from the very best of teachers and we would like to thank them for the dedication they showed to their work.’