Education Minister Mary Hanafin performed the honours at the new E12 million Blackwater Community School in Lismore.
The 510-pupil school is a merger of Lismore’s two former secondary schools, the Christian Brothers and Presentation Convent, together with St Anne’s Convent in Cappoquin.
The idea of merging the three schools surfaced for the first time in 1984 but controversy lurked around virtually every corner.
Eventually, there was acceptance that the amalgamation would be in the best educational interests of the region whose education tradition dates back all of 1,200 years when Lismore had its own university.
Speaking at the official opening, Mr Hanafin referred to Lismore’s university status all those centuries ago and also of the reclaiming of the Knockmealdown mountainside by the Cistercian monks at nearby Mount Melleray where they founded a monastery and school 175 years ago.
“It is little surprise,” the minister went on, “that this area of Co Waterford has produced more than its fair share of famous scientists, sculptors, and writers among others over the centuries.”
The minister said the three former schools, which make up Blackwater Community School, between them gave more than four centuries of educational service to the towns of Lismore and Cappoquin.
“As surely as our architects and builders, they have laid the foundations for this historic day,” she said.
The minister said these three schools had produced countless people who had achieved great things in a wide range of careers and professions. They had also nurtured sports people who had represented their country with distinction at the Olympic Games such as John Treacy and had given many great players to Waterford hurling teams.
“Already the new amalgamated school has achieved remarkable success in educational, enterprise, artistic, and indoor and outdoor sporting competitions.
Other speakers included Mayor of Lismore Peter Ahearne, school principal Denis Ring and the general secretary of the ACCS, Sean McGann.
The joint ecumenical blessing of the school was performed by the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Most Rev Dr William Lee and the Church of Ireland rector Dean William Beare.