St. Joseph’s in Clonakilty looks back on 50 years of educating young girls

Posted on: 9th October, 2017

Category: News

Contributor: West Cork People

On Thursday, October 19, St. Joseph’s Girls NS, Clonakilty will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special mass in Clonakilty Parish Church at 10am, celebrated by Mons. O’Driscoll. Following mass, a general invitation is issued to past pupils, and anyone with an interest in the school, to visit the school from approx 12 noon – 2pm for a cup of tea, a chat and a nostalgic tour of the building, with an exhibition of old photos to enjoy.

St. Joseph’s story began on November 2, 1962 when Mother Superior Antonio O’Shea of the Sisters of Mercy in Clonakilty, successfully applied for a grant towards the cost of a new school, which was estimated to have an overall cost of £64,500. However, due to costs of material and labour, the final price was greatly increased at £102,323 11 shillings. Contributions by local people helped hugely to fund the shortfall.

In November 1965, the foundations of the new primary school, and an assembly hall to accommodate 300 pupils, were laid by the Sisters of Mercy. By August 28, 1967 the buildings were complete and ready for occupation. The school, a modern well-built structure, was fitted with all the equipment and facilities needed for efficient teaching. It was dedicated to St. Joseph, patron of youth.

On opening there were 259 girls on the roll and Sr. Agnes Herlihy was Principal. The uniform of a check pinafore, white blouse, wine cardigan, wine tie and white or wine socks is still worn by pupils 50 years later!

On October 12, 1975, a new Board of Management, consisting of seven members was formed. The first board meeting took place in what was then known as the School Library, currently the Principal’s office. In February 1986 a very supportive and active Parent’s Association was set up. Since then, each new committee has surpassed itself in what it has achieved for the school.

Today there are 224 children in the vibrant and busy school, along with a staff of eight mainstream class teachers, two support teachers, a teacher of English for non-national pupils (EAL) and an administrative Principal.

The Montfort School of Performing Arts has been involved in the school since it opened, now joined by Mrs. Pam Golden who prepares the Junior Classes for events such as their Christmas show, Feis Maitiu etc. Extra-curricular activities include Junior and Senior school choirs, guitar lessons, basketball and camogie training, orienteering (beginning this year) and Lego club (beginning after Christmas), along with activities during the school day such as ukulele lessons, French classes, Playball, football, hockey and tennis. The school is very grateful to all the local organisations who contribute so much of their time and resources.

St Joseph’s has attained six Green Flags, an Active Schools flag, a Blue Star flag, and a Junior Entrepreneur flag. Furthermore it is applying for an Amber flag this year for its promotion of Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing. Added to this, St. Joseph’s is a Health Promoting School with a ‘Walking Bus’ just one of the popular activities during the school year.

Many have passed through the doors of St. Joseph’s, with many returning as new parents, grandparents and teaching staff. The school would not be what it is today without the support of parents, hardworking and dedicated staff, past and present, and the committed members of the Board of Management, all of whom will hopefully be there to celebrate on October 19.

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