Thursday 19 April 2018

40th Anniversary of school opening

Bob Evans, Denis Twomey, Catherine O'Leary, Peg Tarrant, Pat Golden, Catherine Lyons, Joan Fitzgerald, Eilis O'Leary, Noreen O'Sullivan and Vera Twomey.
Bob Evans, Denis Twomey, Catherine O'Leary, Peg Tarrant, Pat Golden, Catherine Lyons, Joan Fitzgerald, Eilis O'Leary, Noreen O'Sullivan and Vera Twomey.

THE years melted away for the 40th Anniversary of Millstreet Community School at a gala function in the Green Glens Complex last Saturday night.

Described as a flagship second level educational institution, established in 1973, the school can boost a tremendous track record in terms of educational achievements to sport and community development.

Memories abounded on Saturday as past pupils and staff had a ball catching up on the lost years with numerous images dotted around the function room adding to the flavour of a trip down memory lane.

For a town that has generated country-wide reputation for its excellence and self belief, the advent of the community school added a positive influence for the town to gain a new lease of life over the past 40 years.

Former principal Ken Brennan contributed to creating an educational establishment providing the best possible schooling for young people in the area.

"I knew from my previous experience it would not happen easily or readily but I was sure, if I secured the confidence of the people of Millstreet and the surrounding countryside, and could muster up a capable teaching staff, success would inevitably follow," said Mr Brennan. "Fortunately, we had from the beginning a fine cross section of pupils and within a short few years we were up with the very best non-selective schools in the country."

Mr Brennan hailed the contributions of the boards of management, parent committees and staff in terms of fundraising and carrying out maintenance projects.

Promoting adult education, the school also became immersed in community development.

"Working with members of the community to improve the social and economic life of the area, the old trades and industries were dying and not replaced. We joined up with an Industrial Committee, Noel C Duggan , Tom Meaney and others, convincing the IDA of our potential," he said.

And their endeavours gathered a fruitful return on securing two industries, Apple and Molex, followed by Japanese company Alps Electric. "Every time industrialists came to Millstreet they visited the community school. And so impressed were Alps they hosted their official launch in the school library," said Mr Brennan.

"The 1990s saw Eurovision and, in many ways, there was never a dull year in Millstreet Community School."

Current principal Pat Pigott said the occasion offered an opportunity to say thanks to 40 years of achievement.

"The three [amalgamated] schools had the courage to make a new commitment in education led by Ken Brennan and a template for the future. We have an excellent staff, stand out teachers, willing to give of their time. There have been many cutbacks in difficult and changing times but we will embrace change on moulding pupils for the future," said Mr. Pigott.

Former TD and Board of Management representative Tom Meaney told the large attendance of the lobbying required to secure a community school with Millstreet designated in 43rd place in the original listing.

"We set out our stall, helped by Sr Assissi from the Presentation Convent, whose brother Séan MacGearailt was in the Department of Education. That backing and meetings with the then minister, Padraig Faulkner, saw Millstreet's position enhanced from 43rd to 6th position to seal a community school," he said.

Other speakers at the function included Ted Owens, CEO of the Cork Education and Training Board; Sr Mary from the Presentation Sisters, Fr Donal O'Neill from the Kerry Diocese and Barry Fraser, board of management.

Once the formalities were completed, the night belonged to the former pupils and staff, sharing stories of the past and dancing to the popular Kelt.