IT was the end of an era in Skibbereen this week as all three secondary schools began the process of finally closing their doors, in advance of the opening of the new Skibbereen Community School this September.
There may even have been a few tears shed by both pupils and staff in all three schools – Mercy Heights Secondary School, Rossa College and St Fachtna’s De La Salle – as the final day approached.
A special ceremony took place for St Fachtna’s De La Salle on Tuesday when all the current students, staff and former staff were invited to bid their final farewell to the school that has been educating the young men of Skibbereen since 1937.
A special plaque to the De La Salle Brothers was unveiled to acknowledge their contribution to education in Skibbereen and was blessed by Bishop John Buckley. Following the unveiling of the plaque by Tim Looney, president of the past pupils’ association, a mass was concelebrated by Bishop Buckley and past pupils, Fr Teddy Collins and Monsignor O’Brien, in the Cathedral.
Bishop Buckley praised the remarkable contribution that the school has made to education in West Cork.
‘I pay tribute to the original founders, the De La Salle Brothers, and to the teachers down through the years. They were very much aware that there is more to education than just the imparting of knowledge only to young people, that education is about preparing and guiding and influencing young people in every way,’ said Bishop Buckley.
‘It is said that a school can be judged by its past pupils. A retrospective glance at the history of this school shows that the past pupils have been very prominent in all walks of life today, both at home and abroad, and they are all very proud of their school.’
Following the mass, a packed ballroom at the West Cork Hotel played host to the large gathering, with memories swapped over a leisurely lunch.