Limerick school gets boost with scholarship fund

A LIMERICK secondary school says it will become the first co-ed in Munster to offer scholarships to girls pursuing third level degree courses from September.

St Enda’s Community School on the Old Cork Road will bestow each of its top four leaving certificate students with €6,000 yearly scholarships.

The scholarships are being financed by a group of benefactors who wish to remain anonymous.

CBS Sexton Street boys’ school in the city has been offering similar scholarships for the past 10 years to the top eight Leaving Cert students.

These scholarships are sponsored by JP McManus, a former student.

Despite excessive demand for places at a number of Limerick secondary schools in recent years, St Enda’s has seen first year intake falling to 15 in 2006, having capacity to cater for around 65.

School principal Pat O’Brien predicted that the scholarship scheme, allied to a recently completed €4.4 million refurbishment scheme, will prove a watershed for St Enda’s.

Mr O’Brien said: “With the major refurbishment completed and computers installed in classrooms we expect that the new scholarships will bring numbers back to where they were. The scholarships will be a huge attraction particularly for girls as there is no similar scholarship scheme around for girls.”

Numbers have been falling since the opening of a new secondary college in Castletroy and the dramatic expansion of student numbers at Coláiste Chiaráin in Croom.

Mr O’Brien said St Enda’s draws its students from 16 primary schools in Limerick city and its environs.

The school catchment area stretches as far as Fedamore, Donoughmore and Ballyneety.

He said when the anonymous benefactors came forward with the scholarship offer it was originally planned to introduce it in 2008.

Mr O’Brien: “But they then told us they wanted to have the four scholarships on offer to the current Leaving Cert class, which has 34 students.”

Trustees have been appointed to administer the scholarships.

Mr O’Brien said: “We did consider giving two to the top two boys and two to the top two girls. But it was felt that they should go to the top four who attain the most points irrespective of whether they are boys or girls.”

Dympna Cremin who is one of the 24 full-time teaching staff said: “We have 157 students at present and about 40% are girls.”

They hope the scholarship and refurbishment of the school will also help revive the school’s sporting fortunes.

Ms Cremin said that in the 1980s St Enda’s reached two Munster Senior Schools rugby finals and also reached a number of Irish schools senior soccer finals.

St Enda’s Community school is under the direct management of the Department of Education.

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