Last weekend represented an important milestone in the life of Newcastle West’s post primary school, Scoil Mhuire agus Ide, as it celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding. The occasion was marked by a gala school concert ‘O Holy Night’ on Wednesday and on Thursday by a special anniversary Mass celebrated by Fr. Duhig, P.P. Newcastle West, and the blessing and unveiling of the school’s new woodwork room and library.

Scoil Mhuire agus Íde is a lay-owned co-educational Voluntary Catholic Secondary School and was formed in 1992 following the amalgamation of Scoil Mhuire, a convent secondary school run by the Sisters of Mercy, and St. Ita’s Secondary School for boys.

“It has been a wonderful few days with the 20th anniversary concert for which there was a great turnout of people on Wednesday evening and today we thought that it was a good idea to coincide with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception because the school is Scoil Mhuire agus Ide. We would like to thank Fr. Duhig for bringing that to our attention and for celebrating the Mass with the students,” explained Sheilagh O’Mahony-Kennedy, Scoil Mhuire agus Ide Principal.

Ms. O’Mahony-Kennedy and her Vice-Principal Vincent Hanley head up a staff of over 30 who cater for an enrolment of up to 400 students. Last Thursday’s celebration culminated with the blessing and unveiling of the school’s new wood-work room and library. According to the Principal, “the voluntary secondary sector is not the most flush with money so when I approached the Board of Management over two years ago about the provision of an extra practical subject for the school curriculum, it was greeted with great generosity. I got great support from the trustees and the board in research-ing the provision of a woodwork room to extend the practical curriculum of the school. We approached the Department and got some financial support but a lot of it has been down to local fund raising and the generosity of the trustees themselves”. Fr. Duhig blessed the new facility and Sr. Patricia Lee cut the ribbon and the declared the room open. Much of the work on the design of the room was done by the school’s woodwork teacher, Anglesboro native Sean Lane.

There is gender balance in the new woodwork syllabus at the school with a number of female students opting for the subject as they also do for techgraphics.

A spare room in the school was converted into two classrooms and this in turn freed a previously designated library area to be developed as such. “We have put a lot of time and effort this year to encourage the reading skills among the students and to coincide with the development of I.T. in the school which was funded by the Department, we thought that it was very important to keep the literary culture alive in the school and for that reason we brought along the library.” The library was officially opened by Des Healy, a former principal at St. Ita’s. Much of the planning for the library was carried out by teacher Rachel Lenihan.

The last twenty years have seen extraordinary growth and development at Scoil Mhuire agus Ide and Sheilagh O’Mahony-Kennedy believes it has a very bright future. “I see it growing and flourishing and we would certainly be looking at adding on another practical subject, engineering and at that stage we would have the full cohort of curricula available for second level students. We have a wonderful teaching staff, our numbers are steady over the years and hopefully that will continue in the future,” she said.