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Mary Lyons, Karen O'Neill and Seosaimhin Dhomhnallain. Photograph by Natasha Barton.

Dawn of a new day in Ennistymon

After a combined total of 362 years of education, staff and students at the Ennistymon CBS, Scoil Mhuire Ennistymon and the Ennistymon Vocational School, performed their last official acts last Friday, as the class of 2023 collected their Leaving Certificate results.
The schools, which have been central to the lives of tens of thousands of people across North and West Clare over their lifetimes, officially amalgamated on Monday to form the Ennistymon Community College.
Each of the former school buildings will remain in operation for the time being however, as the state of the art new school on the Lahinch Road is not yet completed.
The buildings at Ennistymon CBS, Scoil Mhuire Ennistymon and the Ennistymon Vocational School have been renamed the North, South and Central Campus of the Ennistymon Community School respectively, until the new building is officially opened.
Junior and Leaving Certificate Classes will remain in their original base school for the time being, while other non-exam classes will be amalgamated and divided between the three premises.
Orla Conway will be the first principal of the Ennistymon Community School with Kieran Meehan, formally of the Ennistymon CBS, and Karen O’Neill, former principal of the Ennistymon Vocational School, taking up the roles of deputy principals.
“It is a bitter sweet day. We had a commemoration back in May for the 66 years of Ennistymon Vocational School and that was wonderful,” said Ms O’Neill.
“We have seen so many changes over the years, starting off with a five room school which now has more than 20 rooms. We started off with 18 or 19 students and we had more than 240 there last year.
“Orla Conway has done so much work to pull the students, teachers and staff together from the three schools. The new building will come. We are not homeless, we have three excellent campuses for the foreseeable future. There is serious progress being made on the new school. It is state of the art, it will be fabulous when it is finished.
“First years, second years and fifth years will be dispersed across the three sites. We need to have some amalgamation between the student bodies. We have decided to keep a discreet timetable together for the exam classes, so the third years and the sixth years will be staying in their base schools for the time being.
“It has been a difficult task to organise this and to divide up the students and teachers. The parents have been so fantastic and so understanding.”
According to the former principal of Scoil Mhuire Ennistymon, Seosaimhin Dhomhnallain, the new school will be well worth waiting for.
“This is a wonderful new beginning for the community. We have waited years for this new school, the facilities will be excellent, we will have the best range of subjects in the county, it’s a really exciting time for education in this community. That sense of excitement is palpable,” she said.
“We came together yesterday [last Thursday] as a tri-school group, and we had such an energetic and wonderful first meeting as a tri-school staff.
“We have a very proud tradition of excellence in education and care for students during all the years of the school. We had a programme of celebrations during the last term last year and during that time, so many students returned and shared wonderful memories of their time in our school. There was such a strong sense of gratitude for how their lives were enabled in our school. The most senior member who joined us was a First Year Student in 1943.”
The oldest of all the three schools, Meánscoil na mBráithre or the CBS in Ennistymon was establish 199 years ago in 1824. Its final principal, Mary Lyons, says this is the start of a new era for education in Clare.
“The new signs have arrived for the three buildings and it is great to see them going up over the doors. It is the start of a new era and we are all very positive about that. There is lots to do and lots of work to come but we are all very positive about it.
“We will be trying to see our building here as a campus belonging to Ennistymon Community School and we will be embracing the new school as one of the three new campuses. That’s how we are looking at this. It’s very exciting.”
Each of the three school held get together for the final class of Leaving Certificate students as they collected their results last Friday.
“Scoil Mhuire was always renowned for a commitment to a holistic education, excellent academic achievement, a positive learning environment and a genuine concern for the wellbeing of every student,” said Seosaimhin Dhomhnallain on Friday.
“Today we celebrate our students’ wonderful achievement. The occasion is also tinged with nostalgia as we bring the curtain down on the life and times of Scoil Mhuire. We look forward to the future in Ennistymon Community School with confidence that the new school will provide wonderful opportunities for the young people in the locality.”

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