Sadness as ‘For Lease’ sign goes up on local school

Glenroe National School which now up for lease.

Glenroe National School which now up for lease.

Deep sadness hit home in Glenroe this week when an auctioneer’s sign went up on the local school offering the building for lease.

It was the final act signalling the end of primary education in a parish that until the 1970s boasted three schools, Glenroe, Ballyorgan and Ballintubber. The latter closed in the mid 1970s while Ballyorgan closed five years ago and now Glenroe has closed since the remaining pupils broke up for the summer holidays last July.

An eerie silence pervaded the school grounds and precincts this week that once was alive to the screams and laughter of playful children.

Less than 30 years ago, over 100 hundred pupils were attending the four teacher school but the numbers have seen a steady decline since culminating in it being no longer sustainable to keep the school open.

There is a long history of education in the parish dating back to hedge schools and almost two centuries. The school which is now closed was built in the early 1930s and opened in 1935 when pupils relocated from the previous school which was attached to the nearby Our Lady of Ransom Church and which has now been converted into a local Community Centre.

The closure of the school is symptomatic of rural decline that has seen parishes and communities stripped of creameries, Post Offices, local shops and now schools. No doubt demography and migration to urban settlements have played a role in accelerating the decline.

In another blow to the thriving agriculture based community, parish priest Fr. Tim O’Leary retired two weeks ago and has been replaced by an administrator Fr. Tony Bluett until June amid fears that there will never again be a parish priest in Glenroe-Ballyorgan.

A fight-back is on the way with the formation of the Glenroe-Ballyorgan Community Council last year who are now proactive in seeing that the school building which is currently vacant will be put to some use to help reactivate the area.

Local man and past pupil of the school Michael O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Properties is handling the leasing of the building and will welcome enquiries from interested parties.