GENERATIONS of education in a mid-Cork school have been celebrated as pupils and staff enjoy teaching and learning in an extension to the original building.
Ballyvongane National School, about 6km from the village of Coachford, is typical of hundreds of small rural schools in the country where children travel from a few miles.
But the two-teacher facility dates back to the Great Famine in 1845, when local farmer Timothy McCarthy donated a site for a school.
“We have a direct connection to the year the school opened, as there are still descendants of the McCarthy family attending here today,” said principal Cyril Lovett.
Himself and fellow teacher Michelle Dennehy have 40 pupils but since the completion of their extension, they now have a third classroom, a staff room, office, resource room and new toilets. The work, worth around €500,000, added to the refurbishment in 1996 of the original two classrooms, with around €28,000 of the cost raised locally and the rest coming from the Department of Education.
Local TD and Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Minister Batt O’Keeffe, who opened the extension on Friday night, described the school as an important torch-bearer for education in the area.
“Ballyvongane National School has a long and proud legacy for education in north Cork stretching as far back as the Great Famine. This new extension attests to the strong partnership between Government and local people on behalf of the community the school so proudly serves,” he said.
Mr Lovett said the role of small rural schools remains hugely important, as the smaller classes in many of those like Ballyvongane NS allow for greater focus on individual pupils, with above-average scores in standard tests for literacy and maths.
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