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A golden 50 years for Scoil na Mainistreach

Amy Gilmartin plants a commemorative tree with Pat Liddy, a junior infants pupil in 1962, during 50th anniversary celebrations at Quin National School. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

SCOIL na Mainistreach in Quin reached a milestone this past weekend as past and present pupils came together to celebrate its golden jubilee.

 

 

Amy Gilmartin plants a commemorative tree with Pat Liddy, a junior infants pupil in 1962, during 50th anniversary celebrations at Quin National School. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

SCOIL na Mainistreach in Quin reached a milestone this past weekend as past and present pupils came together to celebrate its golden jubilee.

The celebrations got underway on Friday last with a tree-planting ceremony and the unveiling of the school plaque and both the school and village were adorned with bunting in eager anticipation of the school celebrations.  

At the ceremony, school prinicpal Anne Fitzpatrick spoke about “the pride of the whole school community in relation to its educational history, which is inextricably linked to Quin Abbey, from which the school takes its name and with the Abbey school of the 17th century”. 

Pat Liddy, a local farmer, attended the school when it opened in 1962 and he was joined in planting a jubilee oak tree by Amy Kilmartin one of the school’s current junior infants.

During the ceremony, Mrs Fitzpatrick paid tribute to the former principals of Scoil na Mainsitreach including Stephen Clune, Jim Thady Clune, an t-Uasal Tomás Ó Siocháin who had cultivated a love of the environment in their pupils. She said she was delighted to see that wonderful tradition continuing through the current Green School Committee reflected in the three Green Flags achieved by the school to date.

The school jubilee plaque was also unveiled at this ceremony by Anne McNamara, a local historian and former pupil of the Scoil na Mainsitreach and a member of the school jubilee committee. 

The school’s link to the abbey is reflected in the abbey window on the specially commissioned jubilee plaque.

The local community were also given an opportunity to recall the 50-year history of the school with the launch of the publication Caoga Bliain ag Fás on Saturday in the school hall. The book was launched by Fr Michael McInerney also a former pupil of Scoil na Mainistreach and Brother Colmán O’Clabaigh, a Benedictan Monk from Glenstal Abbey and author.

The school band entertained the audience with traditional music, while pupil Joanna O’Sullivan  sang Buachaill an Eirne. The parents’ association provided refreshments, while Crea Phillips and Kathy McNamara, school staff members, compiled an array of old school photographs, which could be viewed on display boards and on PowerPoint. Catherine Crowley of Clare Local Development Company (CLDC) was in attendance and was presented with a copy of the jubilee publication by Eleanor Gallagher, deputy principal.

This jubilee publication is currently available from the school office and local Quin businesses.

On Sunday, the school community assembled to celebrate a celebratory mass which was presided over by the school patron, Bishop Kieran O’Reilly and was concelebrated by Fr Michael Collins, Fr Donal O’Dea and Fr Michael McInerney, the latter two being former pupils of the school.

Mrs Fitzpatrick urged the pupils “to be proud of their wonderful past whilst looking forward an even better educational future for our school”.

Scoil na Mainistreach derives its name from the Franciscan Abbey founded in 1402, by the McNamara clan, for the Friars Minor of St Francis.

According to TJ Westropp’s notes on Quin Abbey, Fr Eugene Ó Cathain (Keane) repaired and reopened the college which had been connected with the monastery in 1641.

The next record of a school in Quin is in 1856, when the school was known locally as a “reading house” was situated where Pat Hassett (Malachy) has his stables presently.

Situated in Feighquin alongside the reading house is the old school, built in 1896. The building is now derelict and only lasted 60 years as a school. The boys’ and girls’ schools were amalgamated on April 1, 1928.

The present school was built in 1960 and was occupied in 1962 when it consisted of three rooms.

The facilities were augmented in 1981 by an extension comprising a classroom, a general purposes room and a staff room.

The government policy of providing temporary accommodation for increasing enrolments continued throughout the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century.

With enrolments rising rapidly in line with the increasing development of Quin village, the board of management was granted prefabricated accommodation in 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Throughout the decade, 2000 to 2010, the board of management, having projected the increasing enrolments, were vigorously campaigning for a permanent extension for Scoil na Mainistreach.  The campaign was initiated by principal, Tomás Ó Siocháin, and pursued by Anne Fitzpatrick, who took over in 2005.

In 2010, Government funding was used to expand the school building to accommodate additional mainstream classroom accommodation and a staffroom. In March 2011, the school management received a devolved grant to upgrade the mainstream accommodation. Further good news came in June 2012 when the Department of Education confirmed the school structure would be upgraded to a principal and 12 teacher school with ancillary services.

Currently, the board of management and the local VEC are working to the planning phase to provide eight permanent mainstream classrooms to accommodate the school population of 265 pupils. The school’s enrolments projected to rise to 300 in the next five years and so further celebrations of the school’s longevity are sure to follow.

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