A School for the Community 1984

by Martin McNamara, Principal.

Our school is opened to all pupils and provides equal opportunities for all pupils. It provides for the needs of the boys and girls, the gifted and the disadvantaged and offers subjects suitable to each student’s needs and interests.

As can be seen from the curriculum, we offer a wide range of subjects so that students can choose subjects most suitable to them. The academic and practical are treated equally.

The importance of technology cannot be over stressed and to cater for this development, we have first class Computer, Metalwork, Woodwork and Science Departments.

The task of educating children is the task of society as a whole though the home and the school play a very important role. The interests and encouragement of the parents is most important.

We learn from all sorts of situations outside as well as inside school, hence the community is involved in education, consequently, we organise parent/teacher meetings and parents are encouraged to visit the school at least twice a year.

A progressive second level school should always be seeking new ideas and be ready to adopt itself to change. Our school was one of the first to introduce a pre-employment course for boys and girls. The Department of Education has now established a Board to examine the Curriculum.

The present curriculum is not geared to cope with the talents of all pupils, too much emphasis being placed on entrance to third level. Entry to third level is not based on personality, temperament or general suitability but on grades and points.

In the new curriculum, added to the usual range of subjects, time should be allowed for politics, communications, health, inter-personal relations, leisure time etc.

The school should be a place where pupils feel at ease relating to one another and to the teachers. Contact with primary schools is also maintained. These teachers are observing their pupils for up to 8 years so the information obtained is invaluable.

All students are encouraged to take part in recreational activities. These are valuable assets in their daily work. Over the years, close contact has been maintained between the school and local industry – this contact has in the past provided employment for many of our students.

I would like to pay tribute to my two former principals Eamon O’Connell and Pádraig Collery who with dedication, did Trojan work for the school over the years.

0067 : Principal Martin McNamara presenting a chair and alb to Fr. Dan Lane from the staff and students with Eileen O'Sullivan and Claire Conway.
0067 : Principal Martin McNamara presenting a chair and alb to Fr. Dan Lane, from the staff and students with Eileen O’Sullivan and Claire Conway.
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Martin McNamara

0112 : Martin McNamara
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Martin McNamara (Principal) retired in 1999. On his retirement, Martin gave the following interview:

When myself and Richard started there was Eamon O’Connell, Pádraig Collery, Pat Twomey, Liam Higgins, Irene Ryan, Eva Brosnan, and then Alice King for two years. There was also an art teacher Mr. Hennessy. The only buildings were the main one and the ’55 extension.

The science room was built in 1970, the garden was moved down below the basketball court. The Reidys replaced the old school shed; costs were pretty small at the time.

By ‘jes they did it for half nothing. Mike Nash was here for a year or two in the early 1960s and then went to Abbeyfeale for a while. Eamonn was our principal.

He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the area and its needs, and in terms of communication he was outstanding. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but he was more a lecturer than a teacher. He was brilliant I tell you.

Other teachers who were here for a short period of time were; Ann Ferry from Donegal, Patricia Twomey-Walsh from Clare, and Fionnula Desmond a Cork woman – she had no time for coursing. Mary Conway was teaching here for a few years also, she was from the Midlands.

Most of the girls went into the Commerce class from which there was a great uptake in local employment, and Patricia Curtin replaced Irene Ryan as commerce teacher. Basically Commerce prepared them for immediate employment – many post-leaving cert students from the secondary school also joined this class.

Girls’ names that spring to mind are: Quaids, Cregans, McMahons, Curleys, Sheila ‘Twas only in the late 70’s and 80’s that the girls O’Grady, Lawlors, and look I could stay going… Numbers increased.

The background of most of our students was rural, most were farmers or tradesmen children, and in the early years, lots of students wouldn’t have the means or ambition for third level education.

Anyway the poor farmers couldn’t afford it. And that was the main advantage of vocational training, because they were ready for work when they left us, and what most of them wanted were trades.

Later on they became more ambitious, and a high percentage of our students went on to third level. The only job I didn’t like doing was going around to the schools ‘self-promoting’. T’would be much better if you just had an enrolment day, and there should be no competition for students, but it had to be done.

A part of our job was judging the home gardens, Mr. O’Connell, Pat Moore and myself. I was required for the driving, because some would get more than strong tea in every house, and we’d get about six gardens judged in the day.

Here he recalled many humorous yarns of these expeditions, the welcome, the generous and most importantly getting to know the families. The judging had many considerations local rivalry and pride at stake of the gardeners. Also the seriousness, the humour, the honesty, the honour and the craic.

Oh by the way, I must pay tribute to John McAuliffe and John Meehan for the co-operation they always gave me. Mrs. Broderick, Mrs. Copse, Bernie Tobin and also Mr. S. McAuliffe, they deserve great credit also, because they worked unsocial hours.

John RIP was one of the most knowledgeable men in West Limerick on a very wide range of subjects and was involved as an officer in many organisations. Last question what gave you most satisfaction teaching, games, Young Scientists competitions, or being principal? Let me think now, it was the success of our students that gave me the most satisfaction of all. Go raibh maith agat.”

Martin McNamara