Tommy Quaid – Major News Headlines
In 1973 Tommy Quaid, made national newspaper headlines at the Young Scientist of the Year Exhibition (in the senior Biochemistry section) with his project ‘Is alcoholism inherited or not’. This proved to be a very controversial topic.
The following article appeared in the Sunday Press in June 1973.
The Drinking Chicks – Strictly for the birds!
“16 year old Thomas Quaid is determined that he will never drink or smoke in his lifetime – because he has seen the effects both substances had on chickens. And he’s a little bit upset too, because his drink experiment titled “strictly for the birds” ran into trouble from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Now the Department of Education has banned similar projects, under the 1876 Cruelty to Animal Act.”
“Thomas, a final year student at Newcastle West Vocational School said “I was a bit disturbed at the fuss over my drinking chickens. I wanted to help people. By showing the effects of alcohol on the fowl, it could perhaps, help bring the significance of the effects closer to humans.”
His project won him 2nd prize in the senior section of the Young Scientist competition
Thomas, the second eldest of a family of thee, studied the drinking habits of four chickens over a 16 week period. He started giving them alcohol when they were only one week old. One chicken was on brandy, one on whisky, one on stout and one on beer!
Tommy at work on his project.
New Teachers 1973
New teachers to the school in 1973 were Ms. Patricia Curtin (Commerce with shorthand and typing), Patrick O’ Connor (Woodwork), Anne Ferry (French and General) and Michael Healy (English and History).
The first Leaving Certificate programme was introduced in Newcastle West Vocational School in 1974 and this considerably increased the intake of students and teachers.
A new building/construction room was built by Christy, Anthony, and Paddy Riedy and Michael Hunt in this year also. Michael Slattery and Elizabeth Blackwell joined the staff. A decision was made to form a school management sub-committee in the school. The parents’ representatives were elected after a secret ballot of parents.
There were further developments on the school campus in 1975, as two general-purpose high quality classrooms were built by Teskeys of Rathkeale, local man Bob Mulcahy was foreman on the site.
In these years there was much expansion on the school grounds with the construction of a second woodwork room and a second metalwork room to facilitate the Leaving Certificate Programme.
April 1975: Cllr. Liam Hickey, chairman, Limerick Vocational Education Committee, presenting William Wren with his prize (2nd prize in the senior chemistry section, Young Scientist of the Year Exhibition). Other prize winners included are Lawrence Clarson (3rd prize in the junior geography section) and James Anglim (highly commended in senior biology section). Also included are Mr. J. Kelleher and Mr. P. Mac Cathailrí, Headmaster, Newcastle West Vocational School.
The historic first Leaving Cert Class in Newcastle West Vocational with Principal Pádraig Collery.
Back L to R: Mr. Collery, Noreen McAuliffe, Frances Mullane, Pat Downes, John Markey or Healy, Jim Anglim, Tom O’ Connor, Richard Barry (teacher) and Vincent Foley.
Middle: Noreen Foley, Breda Geoghegan, ————-, Tom McCarthy, William Keane, Liam Murphy.
Front: ————-, Joan Molyneaux, Timmy Hayes, Frances Hartnett, ———— Nora Lawlor RIP.
Áine Carroll (clerical officer), Ann Kelly (senior clerk), James O’ Riordan (senior clerk), Bernie Greene (clerk typist) and Seán Rushe (CEO).
The 3rd Year Class
Back row: Michael Hennessy, Richard Woulfe, Michael Liston, Tony Hough.
Pat Guinane, Martin Aherne, ———–, Dermot Kelly, John Dowling, Michael Keating, Florie McCarthy, ————-, Eddie Mullane.
Pádraig Collery, Mary Sexton, Mary Hayes, Mary Hennessy, Marie Hunt, Bernie Brynes, Joan Sexton, Kathleen Moloney, Tony Mullins (Ardagh, later ordained Fr. Tony Mullins in 1983 for the Limerick diocese. Tony also acted as temporary Administrator of the Diocese of Limerick in 2009-12)
Front: Bridget Shine, Bridget King, Joan Moran, Annie Hunt RIP, Joan King, Bernie Scully.
Second Year Class
First Year students
Back Row: James Dillane, Ardagh, Patrick Sheehan, Ardagh, James McCarthy, Ardagh, Michael O’ Connor, _____ and Tom McCarthy, Monagea.
Middle Row: Pádraig Collery Principal, Ger Cremin, Castlemahon, Mike Browne, Kileedy, Gerry Colum, Castlemahon, Mike Flynn, Ardagh, Donnacha Dowling, Knockaderry, Joe Sheehan, Strand and Joe Downes, Old Mill.
Richard Walker, Carrickerry, Eddie Harold, Feenagh, Vincent McCarthy, Ardagh, Kevin Kelly, Newcastle West, Seán King, Ardagh and Mike Duggan RIP, Ardagh.
Prize Winners with Mr. Collery
In 1976, the members of the VEC held their monthly meetings at a different school each month. They met the teachers and students and discussed school issues with them. By 1976 there were 15 classrooms in the School to facilitate an increase to 310 students.
Added to the teaching staff around this time were Ann Ferry, from Co. Donegal, Patricia Twomey Walsh, general subject teacher from Clare and Fionnula Desmond, French teacher from Cork City, Mary Conway, Billy O’ Rourke, metal work teacher, Hazel Crosby, Sylvia Nagle, commerce teacher and Pat McCarthy, science teacher.
Martin Ahern, a very skillful soccer player
Martin Ahern completed one of the first Leaving Cert Courses and has carved out a successful career. He acknowledges the benefits of the Leaving Cert in the letter below. At that time a number of students completed their second level education with the Inter Cert.
I started at NCW Vocational School in 1973. I did the Group cert in 1974, Inter cert in 1975 and, Leaving Cert in 1977, after the Leaving Cert I started an apprenticeship with the E.S.B. on the 23rd of Oct. 1977. I went on to do the usual trade exams plus a few City and Guilds exams. I stayed with the E.S.B. until 1992, after that I worked with: Kentz Electrical Group Clonmel, Aeroboard Ltd. Askeaton, Waldens Electrical based in Wyeth Nutritionals Askeaton, Hanley Electrical based in Wyeth Nutritionals Askeaton, Electrical Rewinds based in Wyeths Nutritionals Askeaton and Self-employed based in Wyeth Nutritionals Askeaton.
At present I’m employed by Wyeth Nutritionals as a maintenance electrician.
When I started at The Tech, I had only intended doing the Inter cert but as time went on I noticed that most job adverts were now looking for Leaving Cert results so I stayed on to do the Leaving cert. As things turned out I was glad I did, the Leaving prepared me well for what came after.
At first I thought there was a certain amount of favoritism in the school as the pupils with rural or agricultural background seemed to more favoured than the pupils from the town, but as we went on this changed and attitudes changed for the better. I got along with most people as I was easy enough to get on with and made good friends. Unfortunately I lost touch with most of them. There were some very nice people going to that school.
I was very much into the soccer and rugby at that time so the school sports at the time didn’t really appeal to me as it was predominantly hurling and football that was played. I did play a bit of football but there always seemed to be someone better than me so my games were limited but I played whatever was on the menu at lunch hour.
The school itself was a good school; it suited me very well for what I wanted to do after because the technical drawing and craft work were very applicable to the trade I chose.
My career with the E.S.B. and with the other subsequent companies entailed a lot of drawing and the reading of wiring diagrams and schematic drawings so my schooling stood well to me there.
The teachers for the most part were very good but there were one or two – I did not always see eye to eye with but that’s understandable too. There were good ethics and good work ethics without being too strict a regime. I went on to be able to work on live high tension switchgear and electrical plant with confidence and ability.
I enjoyed my stay at that school in as much as any teenager can say he enjoyed school but it did prepare me well for what came after.
Two pre-employment courses were organised in this year one for boys relevant to building and engineering and a hairdressing and dress making course for girls. Students built a room under the stewardship of Mr. John Considine. The purpose of building this room was to give the students experience in construction and engineering, areas where most of the students would find gainful employment.
Claire Conway (Commerce teacher) joined the staff in 1977. Mary O’ Connor (Irish teacher) began working in the school in 1978.
Pádraig Collery and Jim Kelleher unveiling the very first computer in the Ceardscoil. It is difficult to comprehend now the curiosity, excitement and mysterious potential that this computer created in the school.
Prize-winners in the 1978 Limerick Endowment Scheme for Technical Education photographed outside Limerick County Council offices with members of the County Limerick VEC. Prize-winners included are: Máire Ní Riada, Newcastle West (1st Commerce General); Tina Ní Ionnrochtaigh, Newcastle West (2nd prize Commerce General); Aileen Ní Dhuda, Hospital (1st Commerce Secretarial); Mary Noonan, Shanagolden (2nd prize Commerce Secretarial); Caithlin Ní Nualain, Newcastle West (1st prize Domestic Science); Cait Ní Choileain, Croom (2nd prize Domestic Science), David Downes, Shanagolden (1st prize Manual Training), Gearóid Siocháin, Newcastle West (2nd prize Manual Training), Tadhg Ó Mangáin, Hospital (1st prize Rural Science) and Tomas Ó Coinleáin, Hospital (2nd prize Rural Science)
These years were very important for the survival of the Vocational School. There was much debate on the future of second level education in Newcastle West, as there was a planned restructuring of the Convent, the Boys Secondary School and the Vocational School.
During this time, a very important open meeting was held at the River Room Motel, many contentious issues were raised and different proposals presented. Of notable mention was Denis O’Grady who voiced his exceptional support for technical education to be made available to everybody.
The first option was for a Community School and the second option was a Community College. The main difference between a Community College and a deed of trust type Community School is that the first would deal directly with the local VEC not with the Department of Education as Community Schools do.
There was much opposition for a single school because it was felt that such a school might be far too big. The third option was that the Boys Secondary School and the Convent would amalgamate and the Vocational School would stand alone.
The latter option was agreed on over time and with much bureaucratic debate. Over the next fifteen years, as the population of the Vocational School grew, a number of new buildings were built on the campus and some prefabricated buildings acquired.
A number of proposed plans for a more compact extension to the main building were considered but were found unacceptable for various reasons. Then in the mid 90’s a decision was made to build a new school to suit the needs of the students for the 21st Century.
Around this time Liam Hickey, Chairman of the VEC gave an encouraging address:
“There is now a tremendous emphasis on education, and it is a gratifying thing as far as we are concerned, that the trend is towards the kind of comprehensive education that has been provided since the introduction of Vocational Education in 1930”.
With further support the following year, 1979, Martin Carroll, new Chairman of the VEC, quoted the following:
One of the remarkable features in the education field in recent times has been the growth and development of Vocational Education, and as newly elected chairman of Co. Limerick VEC I pledge a continuance of interest and dedicated service given by my predecessors in this high office.
An tréimhse a chaithfidh aon bhuachaill no cailín i gceardscoil táim cinnte go rachaidh sé chun tairbhe dóibh fhéin, dá mhuintir, agus don phobal go léir.
In the early 80’s, a high quality extension was built at the north side of the main building. This constituted a reception area, an office, another science lab, and upstairs 2 large general purpose rooms and a vice – principal’s office. The contractor for this extension was Denis O’Grady (a past student in the 50s) and many of the recent past pupils were involved in this construction including Paddy O’Sullivan, Liam Shine, Michael Quilligan and Liam Murphy.
1980 Golden Anniversary for Vocational Education Act
Special celebrations were held to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vocational Education Act. Celebrations were held on three levels educational, religious and social.
Mr. Michael J. Noonan Fianna Fáil TD said at the time
‘We are moving into a scientific age – I feel that the vocational schools have a major role to play in the future’.
To emphasise the open nature of vocational education, there was an ecumenical service, and also a golden anniversary banquet was held in October. To commemorate the occasion, a special programme of activities was held throughout the county.
A history of each of the ten schools was issued, and special displays, exhibitions, educational, religious, cultural and other events were held. A commemorative scholarship was established and a special medallion was minted. Chairman of the organising committee was Mr. Pádraig Collery.
In 1980, a total of 450 pupils entered the VEC special 50th anniversary crafts competition in Hospital Vocational school. The competitions featured art, wood, metal, dress making and crafts section with entries from every vocational school in the County.
Front row: Jim Riordan senior clerk, Pádraig Collery NCW, Seán Rushe CEO, Martin Carroll chairman VEC, Michael Cremin co-ordinator Hospital, Michael Brosnan Rathkeale. Among the prize winners from Newcastle West were;
1st on the 2nd row Michael Daly metalwork senior,
2nd on the 2nd row Donal Cremin woodwork junior.
1st on the back row Michael Carmody metalwork junior,
7th in the back row John Danaher woodwork senior,
also included is Ann Keogh who won the art senior competition and Mary Mullane award winner for dressmaking junior. There are also other representatives of the Newcastle West School present.
Gerard Scully on field studies for his project for the Young Scientist Exhibition in 1981 ‘An investigation into systems of land drainage’.
After a brief illness, Mary King RIP (Home-economics teacher) who was from Foynes, and had previously taught in Glin ,Shanagolden and Newcastlewest Vocational Schools passed to her eternal reward in 1982.
This genuine, heartfelt tribute reflects so well on Mary King and on the class that wrote it:
“It is with regret that we, Leaving Cert. girls, compose a tribute to our muchloved and admired teacher, Miss Mary King, who died in May 1982.Even though she demanded a high workrate from her pupils, her kindness always shone through. She was liked as a teacher because she had no hint of sarcasm or bitterness in her appro ach to her job. She was by nature gentle and so she created a trusting atmosphere in her classroom. Allied to this gentleness was a strong sense of justice. By transmitting her values, we believe that we have learned something that will stay with us forever. We feel that she was a natural teacher because her enthuasism was infectious. The same can be said for her humour which helped lift our pre-examination blues. Her ability to communicate made Home Economics our favourite subject. She was a professional in her work and so created a standard of achievement that we will endeavour to emulate.
Without doubt she was a person of the highest integrity. Whenever any of her pupils had a problem, educational or personal, she could be depended on to listen with sympathy and understanding. Her advice was always straight forward and sensible.
We will never forget her and she will always be in our thoughts and prayers.”
By the Leaving cert girls of 1982.
Some of the work on display from the girls pre-employment class ’79-’80 when their teacher was Mary King.
Board of Management 1983
Martin McNamara, Séamus Dillane, Tom Cregan, Paddy Sheehy, Mike Healy, Nora Wren, Tim Corbett, Michael Noonan and Claire Conway.
Young Ireland Association.
These mature young students showed their motivation and leadership. They also represented the school in many extra curricular activities.
Michael Mulcahy, PRO fourth year wrote:
The Young Ireland Association was set up in Dublin in 1983 by a group of students who felt the need to highlight the importance of buying Irish made goods in prefernce to imported goods. A branch was set up in our school and the officers are Chairman: Dermot Cahill. Vice chairperson: Teresa Scully. Secretary: Marie Hoyne. PRO: Michael Mulchay. Adult Co-ordinator: Mr. Michael Nash. The main aim is to promote the sale of Irish goods which are competitive in price and quality with imported goods. Iif every household spent just one pound more on Irish goods each week, it would create two thousand new jobs. So please shoppers, take note of the name of the country in which the items are made and then choose the ones with the name ‘Made in Ireland’ for all our sakes.
Student Exchange to France
In the early 1980s, there was special interactive interest in Europe and the twinning programme between several towns in Ireland and similar sized towns around Europe took place. Newcastle West was twinned with Chartres de Bretagne in Brittany, France.
The following photo was taken of students prior to their 2 week student exchange in France.
For a number of years the schools in Newcastlewest also accomodated exchange students in return and their programme involved time in the school as well as taking part in organised recreational events.
Included in the picture are Donal Cremin, James O Connor , Richard McCoy, Liam Liston , Michael Flynn , Willie Sheehan, Pat Keogh, Pat Foley, Jim , Michael Walshe , William Hunt , Michael Hartnett , Michael Carmody, Martin O’ Sullivan , Joseph Hoyne, Noel Hennessy, Patrick King and Patrick Copse.
Students and staff in 1984 celebrating sporting success at the N.I.H.E. College, Limerick
School’s Golden Jubilee Year 1934 – 1984
1984 was the turn of NCW Vocational School to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A commemorative booklet FÁS was produced to mark the special occasion of the Golden Jubilee.
We are indebted to Richard Barry for his detailed research, editing, and compilation of the book, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Vocational School, aptly titled FÁS (growing as Gaeilge as opposed to the FÁS Foras Áiseanna Saothair). That book included inspirational and forensic articles which were presented by the teachers with reference to their subject areas. And it will also be a very useful source of reference for researchers to a point in time and the expectations that prevailed then.
This is an excerpt from Seán Rushe’s (CEO) contribution to the magazine:
‘It is with special pleasure that I accept the invitation to contribute to the booklet which is being issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Newcastle West Vocational School. When I use the phrase, ‘special pleasure’ I do so with good reason, for I happen to know that this school is not only in fact one of the best post-primary schools in Ireland but that it is recognised as such by competent authorities both within and outside the educational milieu. Only a very efficient and dedicated team of teachers can attain and maintain these standards, and it is but fiting that I record my deep respect for this team and the successive captains: Eamon O’ Connell, Pádraig Mac Cathailrí and Martin McNamara. An outstanding feature of the school is the warm atmosphere of friendliness and camaraderie that prevails all round – involving students, teachers, office staff and caretaker – which makes a visit to the school a joyful experience. Beneath this attractive canopy, of course, the school is a hive of industry.
Our best wishes go out to the Headmaster and his staff as they face a future as uncertain as ever befell our country. There was a time when we were, to a fair degree at least, masters of our fate, but nowadays we seem to be peculiary subject to outside influences when, for example, a resolution in Brussels or a speech in Athens can cause major ripples in our whole economy and spread feelings of depression throughout large sections of our community. But such trends must be met with calmness and resolution: much of the future effort of our statesmen and much of the future work in our classrooms must be geared towards moulding and steadying the outlook of our people, especially the young, who must be primed in their self-confidence, self-reliance and self-respect.
There is an endless amount of work to be done in the social, caring, cultural and environmental spheres, to name but some of them, and I visualise that our schools will have a primary role to play in steering our educational system in these directions.
All true educators must bear this in mind in developing the curricula of the future. It would be a gross mis-reading of educational principles if in teaching young people how to make a living we forgot to teach them how to live’.
There were many other interesting articles written in the FÁS magazine, by such students as; Michael Mulcahy, Marie Hoyne, Margaret O’ Brien, T. Cunningham, R. O’ Connor, A. King, B. McMahon, Noreen Murphy and Bernadette Philips. There were also some whole-class contributions, such as the following by 4th year girls at the time;
Vocational School – An Acrostic
Vigorously the path to school we take day after day
Observing like dear Wordsworth Nature’s Beauty on our way.
Carefully but cheekily we try the teacher’s nerve –
As each one’s full of vitality of vehemence and verve.
Totally absorbed in all our theorems., themes and tasks
Imparting knowledge freely to each teacher as (s)he asks.
Oh how our years of Happiness pass by wth stealthy Pace
Not heeding Time’s Admonition in These Easy Days of Grace!
Adventurous years ahead of us come quickly to our Door
Leaving loving carefree moments that we’ve cherished heretofore.
Success we pray will come our way when we set out Alone
Compensation for the Hardships in the days that are now gone.
Hope hinged deep in every bosom of Excitement, Bliss and Glee
Overriding obvious problems. in our hunger to be Free.
Optimistic for bright futures that are sure to come our way –
Life unfolding all her Secrets to her Children Day by Day.