This year marks the 40th anniversary of Scariff Central National School and last week Scariff National School invited all past and present pupils, parents and staff to attend an event to celebrate this milestone.
Principal, Brídann O’Callaghan said, “September 1974 was a milestone in the history of education in the parish of Scariff. It marked the opening of a brand new, modern school, Scariff Central National School at Fossabeg catering for a large number of pupils in the Scariff catchment area.
“As we celebrate the schools 40th anniversary it is interesting to look back at the history of education in the locality. Like most areas in Ireland, there were hedge schools in the Scariff area, with records showing schools in Inis Caltra, Aughrim, Moynoe and Tuamgraney.
“Due to the restrictions imposed by the Penal Laws, Catholic schools in the 18th century were illegal. Nevertheless hedge schools abounded though these were temporary and therefore no physical traces of them remain,” she said.
In 1831 the system of national school education was introduced was introduced and the first school in this area was the Workhouse in Tuamgraney. The first ordinary national school was situated beside where the Bank of Ireland now stands in Scariff. “There were separate sections for boys and girls, which was normal for that era. When this school closed in 1906 the building became known as the Town Hall and is fondly remembered by older Scariff people for the many happy nights spent there at plays, concerts and dances,” Ms O’Callaghan said.
The old school on the Connacht Road was built in 1904 and opened in 1906. In 1940 there were 75 boys and 65 girls on the rolls. During its lifetime, the school in Connacht Road had four principals: Patrick Jordan, Joe Jordan, Frank Cunneen and John Jones.
In 1970 there were about 4,000 national schools in Ireland and government policy was to amalgamate smaller schools. This policy led to the building of the current national school at Fossabeg. Cappabane School had already closed in 1967 and Mrs Fenwick was its last principal.
In July 1974, 40 years ago, the school on the Connacht Road closed its doors and its staff of John Jones, Joan Giblin, Phil Fenwick and Martin Scanlan moved to the new Scariff Central National School. As a result of the amalgamation, the national schools in Cooleenbridge and Clonusker closed and Mary Slattery and Bridget Cahill joined the staff in the new school.
“The new school in Fossabeg was a welcome change for both teachers and pupils alike from crowded multi-class classrooms to spacious centrally heated rooms. The school grounds were landscaped and the school’s location proved to be ideal due to its proximity to the church and the GAA facilities,” Ms O’Callaghan continued.
In 1978, Tim McGillicuddy became principal on the retirement of John Jones and Tim was subsequently replaced as principal by Martin Scanlan, who was appointed in 1999. Gerard Ruane was appointed principal on Martin’s retirement in 2011 and he was succeeded earlier this year by Brídann O’Callaghan.
Scariff National School has seen many improvements over the years with additional classrooms being built during the 1980s to cater for increased numbers. In 2000 a new roof, windows and doors were part of a major renovation.
Further changes came in the summer 2013 when the floor covering was replaced throughout the whole school and between then and now a major project was undertaken to improve the school when a new building was completed.
The new development consists of two classrooms; a staffroom and a wheelchair accessible toilet. The welcome addition also provides a modern setting for the school’s SEN teachers. This past summer the school’s electrical system was also upgraded and the school has welcomed a state of the art computer system as well as interactive whiteboards in all classrooms.
“The school is very fortunate to have always enjoyed the very generous support of the local clubs and parents. As we celebrate the school’s 40th anniversary we can be very proud of the past 40 years of education in Scariff National School and current parents can be assured that this high standard will continue well into the future with its present staff of enthusiastic teachers,” Ms O’Callaghan concluded.