Kerry community seeks city dwellers to keep school alive

A peninsula community is looking to lure city parents and their young children to the coast to keep their 1862-built school alive.

Lauragh in Co Kerry has painted a picture of a Tír na nÓg for families seeking “a quality school”.

“Are you looking for a school that wants you and your children and is prepared to work with you to facilitate your children’s educational needs?

“If that is the case and you are prepared to move to one of the most beautiful, tranquil and welcoming places in Ireland, then your are in luck because such a place exists,” locals in Lauragh advise.

The setting is an idyllic location on the Beara peninsula, on the Kerry side of the county bounds with West Cork and “nestled between the Caha Mountains and Kilmackillogue Harbour on the Wild Atlantic Way,” a local statement says.

And it asks parents of young children to picture a gorgeous old stone building surrounded by woodland. “Walk on for a couple of minutes and you will be greeted with breathtaking views of the sea, look around and you will see the outline of hills and mountains.”

On a more serious note, it says the school has been renovated, has a purpose-built playground and every child has access to an iPad.

“Due to small numbers, each and every child receives personal attention from highly qualified and dedicated teachers which results in a high level of access to learning support,” a statement notes.

The problem, however, is the 16-pupil, two-room school risks losing one of its two teachers unless parents move fast. Otherwise, by September, it could be just a one-teacher school.

Other local attractions for parents include a mother and toddler group, youth clubs, diving and water sports.

“For the foodies, there is no shortage of cafes, restaurants and pubs in the immediate area, in nearby Kenmare and other towns.”

And to cap it all, property prices are not that bad and the community council will help you settle in.

The release, which also appeared on social media, has had expressions of interest from as far away as New York. But there are fears it is rapidly becoming a deserted village, with the 232 population in 2016 down from 269 in Census 2011.

Last year, the school had just two new enrolments. The garda station has closed, two shops have shut due to retirements, the post office is closed and sorting facilities relocated to Kilgarvan Post office, operated by TD Michael Healy-Rae.

Locally-born Siobhán O’Shea returned from Cork City to Lauragh 10 years ago to raise her children and use the local school.

“We all got on very well always. We look after the elderly, we look after each other. That’s the way we were brought up,” she said.


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