Skibb's Castle on the Hill strikes the right note at official opening

November 7th, 2018 10:10 PM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Student Nell McCarthy, together with Minister of State Jim Daly, TD, and Liam Roche of BAM, cutting the cake to celebrate the official opening of Skibbereen Community School, watched by principal Anton O'Mahony and home economics teachers Sarah McCarthy, Norma Roberts and Majella Ní Charthaigh.

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IT was a case of remembering the glorious past, but also looking forward to the bright future, ‘at the castle on the hill’ as Skibbereen Community School was officially opened by Minister of State, Jim Daly TD. 

Two years on from when students and staff of Skibbereen’s three former second-level schools – Rossa College, Mercy Heights and St Fachtna’s De La Salle – first entered the state-of-the-art building at Gortnacloghy, it was time to celebrate this wonderful ‘trinity’  for its 828 students and 93 staff last Friday.

Principal Anton O’Mahony said it was a great honour for him to welcome everyone on what was an historic day in the life of their school ‘that is the single provider of second-level education in the town of Skibbereen and its hinterland.’

He said it was time to remember and pay tribute to the former three secondary schools ‘which have laid the historic foundations for Skibbereen Community School.’

‘Who would have thought that, a few short years ago, a structure such as this would sit proudly on top of this hill standing guard over dear old Skibbereen and the glorious countryside beyond,’ said Mr O’Mahony, who paid tribute to all those involved in the construction of the school.

‘It is you, the students and teachers and parents of this school community, that transform this building into the dynamic and progressive school it is.’ Junior Minister Jim Daly said, because of his close connections to Skibbereen, it was a honour and privilege to officially open the school. He quipped that there was no questionmark over the workmanship of BAM, following recent revelations of structural defects at several schools across the country built by Western Building Systems (WBS).

‘It is, effectively, the local castle on the hill in West Cork and we can be hugely proud of this extraordinary achievement and this is a very important day for the community of Skibbereen and beyond,’ said Deputy Daly.

‘The future is very bright here with the coming together of three schools here and establishing a world class educational facility of this.’

To celebrate the opening the staff and students opted to work on creating a 3D piece as opposed to a plaque. Made of metal, wood and art material,s it reflects the school’s crest that combines The Cross, The Trinity Knot and The River and Boat (based on the meaning of Skibbereen as ‘Little boat harbour). 

TY students, led by Nell McCarthy, also spent nearly three days baking a replica of the school with the help of their home economics teachers Norma Roberts, Sarah McCarthy and Majella Ní Chárthaigh. The school choir, led by teachers Tara Gallagher and Colette Brennan, provided the entertainment at the opening and one Leaving Cert student, Muirish Waugh from Skibbereen stole the show with his rendition of Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man.’ 

A video of Muirish has been viewed 1,850 times on The Southern Star’s YouTube channel since it was first posted last Friday ¬– making it one of the paper’s top videos of all time on the platform. It was also The Southern Star’s top Facebook post from the past week.


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