There was great excitement in Scoil an Athar Tadhg in Carraig na bhFear on Friday as Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD called to see the children in their soon to be replaced school building. The children will be moving site to their new school adjacent to CLG Carraig na bhFear pitches. Minister Foley was generous with her time and in the best sense of the often-used phrase, her time in Carraig na bhFear really was ‘child centred’.
Minister Foley, accompanied by Padraig O’Sullivan TD, Colm Burke TD and Cllr. Sheila O’Callaghan was greeted by Board of Management Chairperson, Mr. Oliver Manley, School Principal, Mr. Cormac Duggan and Deputy Principal, Mr. Philip O’Brien. BOM members Kathleen Murphy and Carmel O’Keeffe and Tom Howard, Chairperson of Carraig na bhFear Community Council were also present. On a beautiful balmy summer afternoon Mr. Manley presented the layout plans of the new school for Minister Foley, which is expected to be completed in July.
Members of the School Students Council were first to greet Minister Foley and gave her the traditional ‘Fáilte is daichead’ to their school. This is the greeting favoured by ‘Tórna’, Tadhg Ó Donnachadha, one of the renowned Gaelic Poets of the area. Sophia Manley invited Minister Foley to view the great work being done in the special classes in An Neidín. Minister Foley engaged with the children and complimented the work of a very committed staff.
On entering the school hall, the Minister briefly paused at a display in honour of the late Mr. Dermot G. O’Driscoll, former principal of the school. Mr. Duggan complimented Minister Foley on her continued commitment to our new school project and nationally reducing pupil/teacher ratio. Cormac hopes to welcome her back in the not-too-distant future to celebrate the opening of our new school. Mr. Duggan also spoke of the rich poetic history associated with the Carraig na bhFear area and of President Michael D Higgins message to us all ten years ago. President Higgins said at that time that we could all proudly answer when asked where we came from, “I come from a place where we honour poets”. Three of the prize-winning young poets from the recently held poetry competition, held in conjunction with Carraig na bhFear Community Council read their poems for the Minister Foley.
As she listened to the poems of Sinéad O’Brien, Izabella Sirr and Emma Cashman it was obvious to all that Minister Foley derived great satisfaction from the words of the young poets, herself being a former English teacher in Carrigtwohill before entering national politics. Minister Foley spoke fondly of her time as an English teacher in Cork and her love of the profession. She complimented the teaching, SNA and support staff in the school for their dedication to the children in such challenging times as recently experienced throughout Covid. While addressing the children, Minister Foley emphasised the importance of belonging and the pride and respect for each other which was evident even in such a short visit to the children in An Neidín. Minister Foley was well able to answer some tricky questions from the children, even telling a sixth-class pupil that she differed from the recently expressed views of President Higgins in relation to homework.
The Ministers visit concluded with sixth class teacher, Ms. Mags Reen leading the children in a beautiful rendition of the Natasha Bedingfield hit song ‘Unwritten’ and of course Minister gave all classes a homework pass. Sixth class pupil Ciarán Tattan and Junior Infant Pippa Cashman presented Minister Foley with flowers and a school CD which earned more than twenty-eight thousand euro for Marymount Hospice.