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In Pictures: End of an era as Laois primary school bid farewell to 120-year-old building as new chapter awaits

Gaelascoil Thromaire

Last week marked the end of an era in the small rural community of Trumera, as the local primary school students said farewell to the school building that has served the area for the past 120 years.

Gaelscoil Thromaire will move to a new building 1km away for the new school year – a purpose-built building on a parish site beside the community centre and the GAA grounds.

For principal Aine Mhic Aoidh Bhuí, the staff, the 35 students and entire school community it will be a significant occasion.

Indeed the current building was opened on August 26, 1901, and all going according to plan, they will move to their new school on the same date exactly 120 years later.

Aine is principal there for the past three years, having taking over from Liam O’Neill following his retirement in 2018.

A native of Ennis in Co Clare she says it’s a very exciting time for all involved.

“The main building here was quite comfortable,” said Aine as she chatted to LaoisToday from the school a couple of days into the holidays as she tidied up various loose ends.

“The building has served us quite well and owes us nothing at this stage.

“But the junior class was in a prefab and the yard here was was very small. We are going to have a much bigger playing area in the new school, a lot more space, a room for a library and will have state of the art IT equipment.”

And she also spoke of her experience working with the smaller class numbers, learning through Irish – and the benefits of both.

“I can see so many advantages of the small numbers. You can do an an awful lot more with the children and they get great confidence from being in smaller classes.

“There are a lot of advantages and many people don’t realise it.”

The school was converted to a Gaelscoil in the late 1990s under Liam O’Neill’s guidance and in some cases they are now on to the second generation of local families who are being educated through Irish.

“The best way to learn Irish is to use it,” adds Aine. “It is great using Irish for sport, for fun games, for learning your maths. It gives children a great base going on to secondary school when they begin learning other languages.”

Aine is joined in the school by Fiona ní Bhaoil, who has been teaching in the school for the past 12 years, special education teacher Colm MacDonncha, special needs assistant Riona ní Gréacháin, secretary Amanda Fortune, cleaner Leanne Delaney and caretaker Philip Moore. All have done trojan work over the past year dealing with the Covid regulations.

“The general community have been so supportive of this,” she adds. “And we have a really brilliant, hard-working Board of Management who have put so much into getting things to this stage.

“Mairead ní Nualláin, a Kerry native and strong Irish speaker, is a brilliant chairperson and John O’Connor, a current parent and past pupil himself, has really driven this project and has done a massive amount of work in the background dealing with the Department of Education alongside (Liam).

“We’re also lucky to have parish priest Fr Joe Brophy on the Board of Management and an tAthair MacGearailt, another Kerry man, is our school chaplain.

On Friday last they all duly said goodbye to a building that has served them so well for so long.

As well as the students and staff they were also joined by chairperson of the Board of Management Mairéad ní Nualláin, parish priest Fr Joe Brophy and former principal Liam O’Neill.

You can check out a selection of photos from Alf Harvey below.

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.