Back L to R: John Power, Breda O’Brien, Cathy-Ann O’Kelly, Sharon Sheehan, Mike Noonan, Margaret Lane, Breda —, Brendan O’Grady, Máiréad Delee, Philis Sheedy, Brenda Murphy, Helen Harnett
Middle row: Paddy Kelly, Finbar —, Michael Lynch, Michael Murphy, Anthony McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons, Mike Meehan, Alan Hanley, Alan Brennan, Pat Mangan, John Relihan.
Front: Gerard Hartigan, Michael O’Dwyer, Breda Bucke, Geraldine Campbell, Breda Kelly, — —, Mary Colbert, Michael Murphy, John Lane, Donie O’Sullivan.
Students receiving the shield for the Best Float in the 1987
St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newcastle West.
This photograph shows the Newcastle West VEC group which won the Co. Limerick VEC Annual Concert in Croom.
Their producer was Mary O’Connor (múinteoir Gaeilge). Mary was an excellent believer and promoter of Irish culture within the school. Chuir Máire an cúltúr Gaelacht i gcroí-lár imeachtaí scoile. Dá bharr an traidisiúin láidir sa cheantar, fuair Máire an-talann sa scoil chun an nós sin a chur chun cinn.
Furthering the interaction and charitable association between the school and the Church and Charitable Organisations.
As with Ireland in general, generosity for genuine charitable causes has been a world leader. West Limerick is to the forefront for any rural area in Ireland and specifically our school contributes its share to charity be there foreign requirements, local or personal.
Generally these are funded under the guise of non–uniform days. They were usually held once or twice a month with the generous donations willingly given for numerous charities.
Students pictured during a 24 hour fast fundraising for Ethiopia.
Vourneen Gavin and Derval Glennon joined the staff in 1988. Vourneen was the first full time Religious Instruction teacher to work in the school. She shared schools with Abbeyfeale. Religious Instruction was taught on a part-time basis by visiting priests from the local parishes prior to this. Derval Glennon replaced Eva Brosnan as the Home Economics teacher.
Just like students graduating being a celebration so were the retirements of all staff members
John McAuliffe Retires
John McAuliffe, caretaker of Newcastle West Vocational School for twenty years, photographed with the staff on the occasion of his retirement in December 1989.
John McAuliffe receiving a presentation from Martin McNamara, Principal, on the occasion of his retirement. Scripted on this photograph was the personal message ͚anso do oibrig Sean Mc Amhlaidh ar son scoil le mór mheas
John McAuliffe was a self-educated man with a vast knowledge of many subjects, including nature, literature, arts, sport, history and politics. He had a very good relationship with the students and was very alert to notice anyone who felt isolated or alone in the school yard.
He had the skill of integrating students into the school community by communicating with them about their local history and family trees. He was a great judge of character and the following article describes in detail this multi-talented person.
late president of the Newcastle West Historical Society
Who else but John would have taught his hunting dogs commands in as rare a compound as Irish and Swaheli? He taught the one in his own native Irish, the other in a strange sounding idiom from out of Africa.
This is but one test of the man’s individuality. It demonstrates a cast of mind that transcended difference, strangeness and incongruity. John McAuliffe was one of a kind. He was good, straight and true.
In the course of a life that went tantalisingly beyond the Biblical allocation of three score and ten, John packed in an enormous amount of learning and giving.
No one will ever know how much he held in his head. Yet he gave of all that he had, and in all kinds of ways. The attestations are legion. He travelled widely, read voraciously and developed interests with a rare aplomb.
He was the perennial student of life and land. He reached out into the heart of nature. There was a kind of earthiness about him that bespoke a rare understanding of pulses, times, rhythms, harmonies. He knew the grain of country and the grain of wood; he was a lover of lifes miracles.
He could be witty and erudite by turns, humble and humane. And he liked the exchange of fun and banter, and the conviviality of a drink with friends. His was a gentle domain.
It embraced good sense and good humour, support encouragement, praise and acknowledgement. He was among the most hospitable of men at home in the Free State. His was a free spirit and the place of his nurturing became, for him, a seamless state of mind. And his love of country went beyond any singing of it.
All the streams of his life fed compellingly into a brand of history, for which the designation “local” fails to render service. Everything he touched was more capacious than the defining line of a boundary.
Bestraddled by Sliabh Luachra John’s home domain reached over into counties Cork and Kerry. This was the atavistic country of the McAuliffes and John upheld the stake of ancestry. The niggardly hill country filled his mind. He cut turf in the high bogs and he fished by the banks of the Alachán.
Habitat and history came to rhyme. John was a moving spirit in the formation of the Newcastle West Historical Society and its first chairman. Under his tutelage public lectures, exhibitions and field outing became the standard fare of the society, and starting in 1979, a new journal known as The Annual Observer, began to serve as an admirable repository for the work of our local historians.
In the 1980s the society undertook some very ambitious projects such as purchasing the Desmond Banqueting Hall in Newcastlewest and leading the initiative to index the pre- 1900 parish registers for all of Co. Limerick.
Such challenges were fully met and answered, and along with John McAuliffe as chairman, John Cussen as secretary, and Seán Kelly played pivotal roles in promoting the work of the society.
John, in his role as chairman, made some memorable contributions over the years. Fun and wit marched along with seriousness of intent. His introductions were kind. His comments were constructive. He was also an accomplished speaker in his own right and was wonderfully knowledgeable and entertaining, whether moving along the Griffith roads through his favoured country of the mind, or addressing the arduous task of cultivation by hand.
For him spade-turned ridges were neither “Lazy beds” nor “iomairí”. Rather he referred to a practice, that of turning “taobhfhóds” and he once produced and array of spades, all of them impeccably turned out, and minutely calculated, in the hands of the wielder, to tame the earth in a time-honoured way.
John, as chairman, brought fraternal greetings all over West Limerick. He launched many a parish journal and on a Friday night before Christmas, for example, he was bound to be in Mahoonagh Parish Hall for a launch of their parish annual.
Always asked to contribute, he was never found wanting. Indeed such was the laughter on occasion that he must have fully tested the fabric of the little building with his hilarious tales of Africa. He was a great raconteur.
It was typical of the man too that his own journal contributions should have been acts of loving retrieval. Thus he enumerated all of the local pumps and wells in Newcastle before the coming of the water and drew on the memories of those who had helped to make piped water for the town a going concern.
In the same vein, he noted changes in the River Deel, where old names gave way to new, and the love of the fish drew him. And when the Annual Observer came to be superseded by the Journal of the Newcastle West Historical Society, John was on hand to re-trace the Griffith roads through his favoured hill domain.
In 1992 John succeeded Dr. Robert Cussen as life president of Newcastle West Historical Society. His enthusiasm remained undimmed. Serving a community and its history was for John akin to a life’s vocation.
It is entirely appropriate therefore that he should have remained active to the end in the cause nearest his heart. On the day he died he had planned to attend a meeting in Limerick of the Thomond Archaeological and Historical Society.
In the exquisite cameo, ͛the person as spirit of the river, the poet, Michael Hartnett, picks out a lone man and endows him with druidic powers. He is a fisherman, alive and alert to the calls of the wild. He is more a mentor, a friend, a teacher of nature.
Thus solitariness may yield to the binary link of friendship by the light of two moons. Prayer offers hope; transcendent states abide.
And beyond earth, there is Heaven. Solas na bhflaithis ort, a Sheáin. Ar dheis Dé, tá tú i measc na staraithe.
The Person as Spirit of the River
My first druid of nature,
Lone man knowing music of
Curlew, whistle of otter,
Taught me the river and love
Of the fish. Lone man in small
Southern town. I saw your eyes
Mild as mist. Took as symbols
Your animals. Gulls that rise
Up screaming in the inland,
Crow of cock pheasant, long and
Copper to my ears, after
You͛re describing them, your hands
From feather, bone and fine wire
Fashioning the flies to fish
Just wanting from me the truth
And may God grant you your wish.
In the bright night of two moons,
Moon on water, moon on tree
Back from the devious ways
Of poetry, hail to me.
In the bright night of two moons
At musical riverbends
We shall pray that there may be
No deserting between friends.
Leaving Cert Class of 1988/89 at their Debs held in Abbeyfeale
In 1989 under a social employment scheme, an extensive art foundation building was completed and a concrete playing area adjacent to the basketball court was also constructed. Field drainage was completed. The foreman for this project was again Mr. Bob Mulcahy and there were 12 people working on this successful scheme.
A hairdressing course was taught throughout the 1980s with Mary White and Breeda Phillips as instructors.
Mary White Hairdressing Instructor, presented Hairdressing Certificates to the following students who qualified in the Vocational School NCW: Joanne Noonan, Caroline O’Keeffe, Mary Browne, Karen Hurley, Bridget Kelly, Veronica Copse and Nora O’Sullivan in 1989.
Many students will remember this layout from their schooldays. The main disadvantages of this layout were the heating costs and students having to travel outdoors from class to class in inclement weather.
Pupils from Newcastle West Vocational School at the 1990 debs ball held in Abbeyfeale Rugby Club House.
1990: Kieran Madigan, Ardagh receiving a prize voucher from Noreen Foley AIB.
Also in photo Claire Conway, Eugene Sullivan and Ted McCarthy
Helen McCarthy winner of “The Soap Box” competition in 1989.
Helen McAuliffe, Martina O’Sullivan and Mrs. B. Joy (teacher) also present in photo.
Eamon Mellett ( Bank Of Ireland ) a prize of a bicycle to our student.
Also pictured is Richard Barry.
Michael Quaid, Keith Massey and Seamus Carmody, being presented with cheques for achieving Highly Commended results in the Young Scientists Exhibition pictured with Principal, Vice-Principal and Project Teacher.
Ursula Barrett being presented with her prize for an essay competition by Councillor Jim McCarthy. Also in photo are Seán Burke CEO, Deirdre Barrett, Bridget Joy (teacher) and Martin McNamara (Principal)
Minister for Education Visits School
The purpose of Minister Mary O’Rourke’s visit to the school was specifically to see the school campus with buildings dispersed over a large area. It was hoped that this visit would help to speed up the process of building a new school.
Prior to this there were a number of proposed alterations and extensions to the main building but it was perceived that because of costs and positioning none of them would be fit for purpose. On the day Mrs. O’Rourke was made very welcome and the staff were impressed by her personality and professionalism. We believe her visit was instrumental in moving the project forward rapidly.
Students who were involved in the organisation of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with Mike Nash, Parade Co-Ordinator and John Dowling, President, Chamber of Commerce.
School Construction Studies
John Hanlon, (builder), Donal Fitzgerald, Neill Hough, Tony Daly, Steve Kiely and Michael O’Grady, Leaving Cert pupils with their Construction Studies Exam project
Teacher Donie Culhane pictured with Aidan Kelly, David Noonan, Ian McAuliffe, P.J. Kelly along with their Construction Studies Project.
John Murphy (builder), P.J. Costello, Thomas Greany, Mr Upton and Ian McAuliffe with their Construction Studies Exam Project.
Damian Heffernan, Pat Moran, John Corbett, Liam O’Connor, Eamon O’Connor and Michael Hayes with their project.
These architectural and heritage projects were constructed to scale down models of actual building from their area. Research, history and scale drawings were also involved.
Mr and Mrs Sean Rushe (CEO) at Sean’s retirement.
Seated Mrs and Mr. Sean Rushe.
In 1995, the CEO Mr. Burke outlined the plans for development of the campus in Newcastle West that had been on the agenda since the 80s. The plans agreed by the Department of Education and the VEC would mean an additional 2000 square metres of accommodation in the school as well as an extensive upgrading of existing buildings.
In hindsight, the fact that this extension fell by the wayside was a blessing in disguise, or we might not have the fine purpose-designed building that we have today.
Some of the staff members during 1996
Laois Ní Chonchúir with her parents Mary and Michael O’Connor. Laois won first prize in the Junior Certificate Irish Essay Competition foe VEC Schools and Colleges.
1997: Liz Cregan (Science Teacher) began her teaching career in NCW and from the beginning taught in both schools.
1999: Colourful banner from the art room displayed by students to say goodbye and thanks to Martin McNamara.
Teachers: Pat Harnett, Martin McNamara, Michael Slattery, Richard Barry, Pat O’Connor, Mike Healy, Jim Kelleher, Con Murphy, Michael Heffernan, Dan Culhane and Mike Nash took the photograph.
by Pat Hartnett
The “Gaisce Awards” the President’s award is described as the highest award in the nation to young people between the ages of 15 and 25 years for personal achievement and voluntary service.
It’s a challenge from the President of Ireland to the young people of Ireland, and is considered the country’s must prestigious and respected individual reward programme. To qualify, the challenge is relative to your ability.
It sets out to develop you as an individual and also to introduce you to community involvement. Participation is required in any three of the following: helping the elderly, helping young people, life saving, first aid, personal skills, physical recreation and adventure project over a nine month period.
Students Mary Hartnett, Noirin Downes, Bríd McCarthy, Marie Sheehan, Helen McCarthy and Helen McAuliffe who were presented with the President’s Gaisce Awards by RTE personality Ray D’Arcy with their teacher Pat Harnett.
Geraldine Cambell pictured receiving her Gaisce Award from President Hillary in 1989 with her teacher Pat Harnett.
Mr. Pat Harnett, with members of Foróige, making a presentation to Angela Ryan on behalf of Meals on Wheels. Also in photo Mrs. Foran (Meals on wheel) and students from the school.
In 2000, 1st Year students were pictured keeping Newcastle West tidy with their Principal Richard Barry.
A group of students that helped Mr. Barry clear out the building prior to its demolition, on a week where boys worked like men.
Included are K Leahy, A Carroll, Leahy, D McCoy, Fitzgerald, P Kelly, M Daly, Dore, O Donnell, ________
A vivid picture of the Vocational School being demolished in 2001
The following piece was published in The Observer by “An Old Observer”.
An End of an Era
Another old Newcastle landmark “bit the dust” last week. The old Vocational School building known to all “The Tech” succumbed quickly to the demolition men and an era ended with hardly a whimper.
The Tech opened its doors in September 1934. From small beginnings, the school prospered down the decades, but the recent proliferation of prefab buildings, hinted at inadequacies of the old structure. So, up went the spanking new building, which is nearing completion and down came the old edifice which served its pupils and teachers well.
It is always sad to see an old monument go “to the wall”, but progress is inevitable. Still, the old “Tech” will be remembered with nostalgia by the countless thousands of pupils and staff who have passed through its portals.
“I still can see the dear old school, The games that there we played, The steam-rolled road from Ballyowen, Where often times we strayed, There were Kathleen, Maisie, Peg and Moll, Yes, Kit and Norrie too. There were Joe and Jack, Mick and Pat All comrades strong and true.͛”
It could be said that the structure of the Vocational School was well ahead of many of the new schools that were built from the 1930s forward. This is in terms of durability, suitability, soundproofing, furniture and appearance.
It put up strong resistance which was testament to its sound structure. Unfortunately its landmark location was its downfall and it had to be demolished when Desmond College was built in 2001. It had served the area for nearly 70 years and it was a nostalgic sight to see it fall.
Members of staff on the occasion of Michael Healy’s retirement.
VIVE LA FRANCE!
by Ann Lenihan
A Picture from the Past: 1987 Students accompanied by teachers Mike Nash, Ann Lenihan and Harry O’Riordan ready to depart for Chartres De Bretagne.
Most people have their own motives for learning French, whether as a school subject, perhaps to survive a holiday in France, or maybe for work opportunities.
Few people may be aware of how widely spoken French is. In France alone, it is spoken by 66 million people and is the official language of 33 countries.
As citizens of Europe, we are exposed to many languages and cultures. Knowledge of these languages opens doors for us to be able to understand other peoples and to engage with our European neighbours.
From the very early days of the Vocational School, French was encouraged as a subject for boys and girls…to all levels.
Back then, of course, the emphasis was all on the written word, so that even the most ordinary conversation would have been an embarrassing struggle.
Thankfully, there have been many developments along the way. A revised Leaving-Cert syllabus in 1983 lead to the examining of Aural or listening skills. But it was not until 1986 that the Oral or speaking component was finally introduced.
No doubt, the introduction of the Junior Cycle Student Award in September 2014 will eventually lead to more changes in language learning from First Year.
It is to be hoped that in the years to come, the ability to speak and understand modern French will become even more important. In this way, French students of the future will be able to put their studies to a more practical use in their chosen careers.
In August 2014, the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, launched a consultation on foreign languages in education, with the intention of developing a languages strategy. This forms part of the government’s Action Plan on Jobs, and so the changes continue…
“I feel like this is all a dream. I’ve never seen anywhere like this before.”
But long after class work and teachers are forgotten and faded into the past, what are the memories that remain? Oui, oui, it’s the School Tour!
The benefits of travel have always been encouraged in Desmond College and it is policy now that 2nd year students are offered a foreign trip, usually to Paris, the City of Dreams.
“I love Paris, can’t wait to come back!”
Today, it would be impossible to say how many students have strolled together along the Champs Elysées, climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
“What I liked in France was the Eiffel Tower … you could see the whole lot of Paris”
They tasted French food, heard the sounds of the French language and realised for the first time that all it takes is to get on a plane, and arrive in another country with different customs, attitudes, and ways of doing things…a completely different culture.
So much has changed since those early days. It is amazing to think of the long journeys by bus and ferry, and the huge work involved in getting passports for students.
Today, teenagers are much more accustomed to travelling and they all have their own passports now. But the thrill and excitement of setting off with classmates to spend a few days in the “City of Dreams” will never be forgotten.
Enjoy some comments and impressions under the photos!
“There is not one thing I didn’t like about Paris. I loved every minute” A.L.
A school quiz team who took part in the County Limerick quiz in 2000: Siobhan Hannafin, Sinead Ahern, Ann Maria Walsh and T.J. Enright.