It was a red-letter day for Lisnafunchin National School when it celebrated 100 years of continuous service to the North Kilkenny community.
An important fixture in the parish of Conahy, Lisnafunchin was one of the first schools opened in the new Free State, and its development has mirrored the growth of the country.
Two-teacher schools continue to be a very important part of primary school education system, and while many have closed or amalgamated over the years, Lisnafunchin National School is very proud to have now reached its centenary year as a stand-alone facility. It is as integral a part of the rural community as it was when it was built in 1922.
Among the dignitaries present for the celebrations were Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan, TD John McGuinness, Cllr Pat Fitzpatrick, Cllr John Brennan and retired Cllr Maurice Shortall.
Following a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann, Eileen Gunner, Chairperson of the 100 Year Celebration Committee, welcomed past pupils, current pupils and their families as well as invited guests. Ms Gunner acknowledged those that had travelled a great distance to be in attendance and mentioned those who, for various reasons, could not be present for such an auspicious occasion.
A respectful minute’s silence commemorated those members of the school community now deceased. Letters of best wishes from An Taoiseach Mícheál Martin and from Minister for Education, Norma Foley, were read to the large attendance.
Those present were asked to reflect on all the school had accomplished for generations of families and to celebrate the wonderful and superb work that still continued in the school.
In his address, principal Conor Doyle welcomed everyone to the special day marking 100 years of Lisnafunchin NS.
He mentioned the fun the current pupils experienced in the lead-up to the celebration, exploring the history of the school and the Irish education system as well as interviewing the older members of their families and neighbours. Mr Doyle acknowledged the great work of former teachers Ms Lynch, Ms Conry, Master O’Regan, Ms Hackett, Mr Heuston and Ms Mulhall, as well as others who served the children of Lisnafunchin. It was significant, he said, that most of them had stayed in the school until retirement.
Rev Fr Willie Hennessy and Rev Fr Eamonn O’Gorman celebrated a reflective Mass that included contributions from current and past pupils. Music was provided by the current forty-two pupils of Lisnafunchin National School.
Master of Ceremonies, Ms Carol Gunner, invited a number of guests to address the gathering. Minister Noonan, Cllr Fitzpatrick and retired Cllr Shortall all acknowledged the excellent education Lisnafunchin had provided down through the years and was still imparting to the present generation.
They all emphasised the enormous contribution from the local community that had always supported and encouraged the school and its development during its 100-year journey.
During that time, over 600 pupils have walked through its doors, each with their own unique stories, experiences and memories.
Michael O’Regan, son of Master O’Regan, spoke of his father’s experience in Lisnafunchin as principal for 43 years between 1936 and 1979. Séamus Brennan, past pupil, then gave a history of the school and recalled his own memories of attending Lisnafunchin NS from 1944 until 1952.
Just as the celebration was drawing to an end, the oldest male and female past pupils in attendance, Paddy Healy and Bridie O’Shea, were honoured with presentations made by Leyla-Rose and Madison Healy and Ruby and Alison Dunne.
Earlier, presentations were made to Mr Ger Dunne and to Mr Lar Walsh who could not be in attendance on the day. A celebration cake made by past pupil, Sarah Molloy, was then cut.
Current teacher Jenny Histon presented a bouquet of flowers to retired teacher Eileen Mulhall. The ceremony closed with current pupils performing songs on their violins and tin whistles, finishing with the fitting song ‘We can make a difference’.
Following the ceremony, guests were invited to view displays of old artefacts and memorabilia of the school. Videos of memories sent in by past pupils were on show with current pupils available to assist with the technology.
Refreshments were available in the marquee and the sound of chat, laughter and nostalgic reminiscences filled the school yard for many hours afterwards.
Lisnafunchin National School Board of Management and its 100 Year Celebration Committee wish to thank all who made this special day possible including Kilkenny County Council, Glanbia and Castlecomer Country Life.
Community spirit is strong and there is great confidence the whole school community of Lisnafunchin National School will continue to support the development of the school in the future. Ar scáth a chéile a mhairimid.
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