By Brian Moore
THERE was plenty to celebrate and to remember for both young and old as the party atmosphere brought a gathering of pupils, teachers and families who have attended Carrigboy National School over the last 100 years.
While the eldest past pupil, Sheila (Julia) Kelly, who at the grand age of 102, finished her education at Carrigboy in February 1927, was unable to make the party, the occasion was marked by many who had travelled from near and far to see their old school once more.
There was Irene Crowley (87) from the class of 1940, John Sullivan, class of 1944, Maura Ross, class of 1945 who along with her son John, class of 1974 and his children Erica and Davin who are currently attending the school.
‘Carrigboy National School first opened its doors to the children of Durrus and the surrounding area back in 1915 and since then the school has gone from strength to strength thanks to the wonderful people, the children, the teachers and the fantastic community spirit here on the Sheep’s Head. We couldn’t let the 100th anniversary go by without marking this very special occasion and by remembering all those who have attended the school down through the years,’ principal Michael Cronin said.
Bishop John Buckley travelled to his native West Cork and to Durrus on Saturday for a very special centenary mass which kicked off the day long celebration.
‘I am delighted to be here in Durrus on such a bright spring day to celebrate 100 years of service and support by the teachers, pupils and people of this community,’ Bishop Buckley said.
While the construction of a national school in Durrus first began in 1914 with the First World War and the Easter Rising yet to take place, the school has weathered wars, both military and economic, emigration, recession, troubled times and happy days, Carrigboy continues to move forward and expand.
‘The school was renovated in 1987 and a further extension and modernisation in 2008 saw Carrigboy with four classrooms, two learning support/resource rooms, computers, iPads and of course interactive whiteboards in all the classrooms,’ Principal Cronin continued.
However, for Patsy Flynn and Maureen Daly, both from the class of 1951, or for Matt Coughlan, John Daly or Michael Sullivan all from the class of 1953, it’s a far cry from what they remember of their school days at Carrigboy.
‘Last year, 2014, the school was named a Digital School of Distinction in recognition of our computer classes and our involvement and success with online school competitions,’ Principal Cronin said.
It was with this in mind that the boys and girls of Carrigboy ensured that they included not only the student registers as part of the procession of gifts at the centenary mass, but also an iPad and a copybook to highlight the changing times and the methods of teaching down through the years, as well as a football and tin whistle to showcase the importance of extra-curricular activities at their school.
Following the mass, pupils from past and present joined current and retired teachers, parents, neighbours and friends in the community hall for an afternoon of remembering and celebrating their time spent at Carrigboy. Among the many past pupils enjoying the party in Durrus was Eileen Johnson from the class of 1959, Carmel O’Sullivan, class of 1968 and John Flynn class of 1970.
‘Of course the history of education in Durrus goes back a long time before Carrigboy was built. Fr Richard Quinn had become parish priest of Muintir Bhaire in 1817 and one of his first acts was to build a church on the spot where the school now stands.Records show that the initial application for a school at Four Mile Water was received by the National Education Board on July 13, 1833. There is little doubt that Fr. Quinn was a driving force behind the initiative. The school building was erected beside the church where the Community Hall now stands. In fact, the building housed two schools – one for boys and one for girls,’ Principal Cronin said.
With the celebrations continuing long into the afternoon it was clear to see that Carrigboy National School is held in very high regard by the people of Durrus and the surrounding areas.
‘This has been a wonderful day and we, the teachers and pupils at Carrigboy National School want to thank all the parents, the members of the Board of Management, Bishop Buckley and everyone who worked so hard to make the school and this community what it is today. Here’s to the next 100 years,’ Principal Michael Cronin concluded.