Wednesday 19 June 2019

'Parents give the opportunity but you won't find a fifth year who doesn't want to be here'

All smiles: Presentation students Caoilfhionn Gilvarry, of Clonsilla, Dublin; Sarah Owens, of Rosslare, Co Wexford; Holly Corby, of Birr, Co Offaly; and Hannah Sullivan, of Clonea Power, Co Waterford; with Noreen Bohan. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22
All smiles: Presentation students Caoilfhionn Gilvarry, of Clonsilla, Dublin; Sarah Owens, of Rosslare, Co Wexford; Holly Corby, of Birr, Co Offaly; and Hannah Sullivan, of Clonea Power, Co Waterford; with Noreen Bohan. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

It's 7.30pm on Sunday and the boarders at Presentation Secondary School, Thurles, Co Tipperary, are filtering back after a weekend at home.

It is one of the few all-girls' boarding schools left in Ireland, and, unusually, one of two in the same town. The other is the Ursuline. Both take boarders, on a five-day-a-week basis.

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It's a big change from the days when boarding school meant a 24/7 commitment from pupils, with the rare trip home.

The Presentation Boarding School dates back to 1914, when it was established as a 'Preparatory Training College' for girls hoping to qualify as teachers.

Among the almost 700 pupils at Presentation today, there are 104 live-in students, many coming from nearby counties such as Laois, Kildare, Galway, Limerick and Cork, but from farther afield as well.

Presentation also takes day boarders, generally living within a 25km to 35km radius, who have all their meals and evening study in school.

Enthusiastic: Ellen Buckley, of Fethard, Co Tipperary; Elizabeth Clancy, of Kilrush, Co Clare; Laura Courtney, of Murroe, Co Limerick; and Isabel Finlay, of Ballacolla, Co Laois. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22
Enthusiastic: Ellen Buckley, of Fethard, Co Tipperary; Elizabeth Clancy, of Kilrush, Co Clare; Laura Courtney, of Murroe, Co Limerick; and Isabel Finlay, of Ballacolla, Co Laois. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22

Boarders are enrolled from first year, an age when parents will have a strong influence, but boarding school manager Noreen Bohan says many girls are taking their own decision to come for senior cycle.

Boarding School Fees

Alexandra College, Dublin 6

FIVE DAY: € 17552

SEVEN DAY: € 18614

Bandon Grammar School, Co Cork

FIVE DAY: € 8475

SEVEN DAY: € 11050

Blackrock College, Co Dublin

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 19450

Cistercian College, Co Tipperary

FIVE DAY: € 14300

SEVEN DAY: € 15300

Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 19890

Colaiste Ide, Co Kerry

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 6950

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Dundalk Grammar School

FIVE DAY: € 7983

SEVEN DAY: N/A

Glenstal Abbey School, Co Limerick

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 19300

Kilkenny College

FIVE DAY: € 8850

SEVEN DAY: N/A

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Midleton College, Co Cork

FIVE DAY: € 9600

SEVEN DAY: € 11800

Newtown School, Waterford

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 10250

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Presentation Secondary School, Co Tipperary

FIVE DAY: € 7000

SEVEN DAY: N/A

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Rathdown School, Co Dublin

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 19275

Rockwell College, Co Tipperary

FIVE DAY: € 12500

SEVEN DAY: € 13500

Royal and Prior School, Co Donegal

FIVE DAY: € 6100

SEVEN DAY: N/A

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Royal School Cavan

FIVE DAY: € 8200

SEVEN DAY: N/A

Sligo Grammar School

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 8950

St Columba's College, Dublin 16

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 23481

The Kings Hospital, Dublin 20

FIVE DAY: € 14890

SEVEN DAY: € 16795

Ursuline Secondary School, Co Tipperary

FIVE DAY: € 8100

SEVEN DAY: N/A

* No tuition fee for day pupils

Villiers Secondary School, Co Limerick

FIVE DAY: N/A

SEVEN DAY: € 9200

Wesley College, Dublin16

FIVE DAY: € 14170

SEVEN DAY: € 15320

Wilson's Hospital School, Co Westmeath

FIVE DAY: € 8000

SEVEN DAY: € 8998

* No tuition fee for day pupils

"When it comes to fifth years, they are making up their own minds. They really want to do well and are very focussed on their studies and parents feel very good about that.

"They are coming because they want to.

"The parents give them the opportunity to do so, but you wouldn't find a fifth year who doesn't want to be here," she says.

She also believes that the cost of boarding over six years may be prohibitive for some families, but that enrolling at senior cycle is more realistic, financially.

The boarders' day starts with a wake up at 7.30am, with 8am Mass once a week, and school at 9am. Classes, sporting and other activities and study, with breaks for meals, continue until 9pm. A "night cuppa and recreation" is allowed before bed at 9.15pm, with lights out at 10.15pm, although senior students may study until 10.45pm.

Among the rules are restrictions on mobile phones, including a ban at meal times.

While bedrooms are not en-suite, the school has put money into modernising facilities in recent years.

Sixth years have their own bedrooms with wash hand basins and their own tea room.

"They have a lot of freedom and they love that bit of independence," says Ms Bohan.

Come 5pm Friday, they are homeward bound, with private buses bringing pupils up the M8 to places such as Kildare and Portlaoise, while others are transported to the railway station for trains.

Irish Independent

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