Cape Clear seeks teachers to save 150-year-old school

By Sean O’Riordan

If islanders on Cape Clear fail to recruit two teachers, their 150-year-old school may have to close. That would have serious implications for the community’s future.

Cape Clear North Harbour

Scoil Náisiunta Oileán Cléire has to recruit a principal and teacher, at a time when there is a national shortage of such professionals. Recruiting teachers to national schools on offshore islands is a recurrent problem.

School board of management chairman Neil Ó Riagáin said they had been very fortunate in the early 1970s, when two gifted young teachers settled on the island and spent their careers there.

But since their respective retirements, it has become more difficult to recruit teaching staff,” he said. “The community appreciates the various teachers who have given service to its school since then, and for the quality of education provided to its children.

He said that there are plenty of services on Cape Clear, such as a shop, pubs, restaurants, a library, and a bus service run under the rural transport scheme.

“We also have enormous community spirit,” said Mr Ó Riagáin. “There are also many opportunities for outdoor life, close to nature. Birdwatching and whale-watching are popular pursuits, with other activities, such as kayaking, walking, traditional music, art, book club, and storytelling.”

The Gaeltacht school had an enrollment of 11 last year and it is hoped there will be 12 children this September.

In recent years, a new trend has arisen on the island, with some families coming to spend a year here to experience island life, before returning to the mainland for career and other purposes,” said Mr Ó Riagáin.

“These positions might be attractive to all kinds of people: teachers seeking career breaks, teachers with families interested in a different pace of life, even for a time, or, indeed, older teachers, nearing retirement and yet ready for one more adventure in life.”

If the school closed, the children would have to be educated on the mainland. This would entail a ferry commute, which would not be feasible.

“The family may have to leave the community,” said Mr Ó Riagáin. “That’s the last thing we want. It would be very serious for the island.”

The teaching positions are advertised on www.educationposts.ie

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