THE Pattern weekend celebrations in Ballyheigue got off to an earlier start than usual as one of the great schools of the parish celebrated its 50th year in existence.
Bouleenshere National School was the scene of a massive get-together on Saturday as well over 500 former pupils returned to the great alma mater for a trip down memory lane par excellence.
In a foreshadowing of the Pattern, 100 gathered at the Well on Saturday afternoon from where they marched up the Chapel road to Bouleenshere - led, no less, by a piper!
They were met by hundreds more at the school, where a marquee was erected, as the event got underway with a prayer service under Parish Priest Tommy Leane. Prayer, music, food and conversation came together in an event that will be remembered as vividly as the schooldays.
"It exceeded our wildest expectations really," organising committee member and former pupil Brendan Moriarty said. "It was absolutely fantastic and we couldn't get over the crowd at it!
"The biggest thing of all about the day was the publication of 'Bouleenshere Down the Years', a 250-page book that was launched by local historian Bryan MacMahon. The book is the product of trojan work by so many people, but most notably Mícheál O hAllmhuráin and Thomas O'Mahony."
Former Bouleenshere teacher and historian, Mícheál tracked down almost every last aspect of the school's half century.
"Tommy O'Mahony somehow managed to come up with a photograph for every class in the 50 years in a fairly incredible achievement. He scoured the parish and paid four or five visits to some homes to get copies of the class pictures!"
Mícheál, meanwhile, was also lauded for his attention to detail in compiling the book. "He has a great saying which he embodies to the letter himself: 'If it can't be done right, it can't be done at all!'" Brendan said.