Cahergal National School was first opened in 1952, replacing Garra National School. The new site was chosen as it was in a favorable position for the families in the district. Work started on the planning applications for the new school in 1951. Tender notices were submitted to the Tuam Herald on 25th August 1951 and in the Irish Press on 22nd August 1951. The specification and conditions of contract were exhibited at the residence of Very Rev. P. Curran, parish priest of Killererin. Applications of the drawings and specifications also could be obtained from the Office of Public works with a deposit of £1.00, which was refunded on the return of those documents. The closing date was 20th September 1951.
The tender seemed to be awarded quickly as the next report about the school appeared in the Tuam Herald on 9th August 1952 in the North Galway Jottings section. It reported “The New School at Cahergal, Tuam, to replace the old Garra National School, Ballyglunin, is now almost complete and is a splendid structure fitted in a modern style. There seems to be a promising future for this school as the district is well populated and with some additional new houses should be able to keep the same complement of teaching staff as Garra N.S. Mr James Conroy was the Principal Teacher”.
Mr. & Mrs. Conroy were the last teachers in Garra N.S. and they were the first teachers in Cahergal in 1952. Miss Curran was the third teacher in Cahergal in those early years.
The new school was finally opened in late 1952 and in November 1953 the Very Rev. P. Canon Curran, P.P., Killererin, celebrated Mass in the new school. There was a large attendance of parents, parishioners, and local teachers. Rev. Fr. Moran, C.C. Killererin assisted Father Curran at the opening Ceremony.
For a detailed and thorough account of the school’s history you can enjoy this wonderful booklet which was prepared for its 60th Anniversary.
New Era Begins in Cahergal N.S. by Sally Flynn (Principal 2006 – 2018)
After a 20 year wait the “New School” in Cahergal will open it’s doors in September. This has been a journey with many twists and turns. Different Boards of Management had the same aim i.e. to get improved accommodation for the pupils and staff. Fr. Kieran Waldron and my predecessor Carmel Niland led the campaign in the early days. A large file of letters, records the efforts made and the barriers that came in their way.
9 years into the journey the Department of Education purchased the site where the New School is now built. Getting on and taken off “Building Programmes” gave cause for feelings of joy followed by disappointment. The sceptics said “it would never happen”, but resilience, positivity and never say die attitude by Boards of Management, Staff and Parents Associations contradicted this. It became very clear who the politicians were who “had a will” to fight for this project in their locality. It was felt pressure needed to be intensified before the General Election of 2016. This led to another opportunity to go to the Dáil. The meeting with Minister of Education, Jan O’Sullivan was arranged by the then Senator Lorraine Higgins. A video of the pupils sitting in the desks still used in the school and dressed in 1950’s style clothing were sent to the Minister’s office beforehand. Spoken appeals and a “rap” performed by the children, as well as an address from myself were also included in the video. (I recall numerous “takes” in the preparation of this address and I thank teacher Ms. Elaine Duddy for her patience.) The Minister’s reaction at our meeting gave a great sense of hope. Chairperson, Ronan Stephens, Parent’s Rep., Karen Barry and myself came away thinking “Tiocfaidh ár lá”.
Within a short time we were told we were included in the Building Programme. Department officials began the process of selecting a design team. Simon J Kelly’s were the chosen architects. The construction contract was awarded to Coolsivna Construction. Meetings galore were held. We were blessed to have Board member John Wilson with his vast knowledge and experience in the building world, accompany us to these meetings.
In August 2016, the sod was turned for the new school. A few weeks later, Granny Eileen Reynolds arrived with medals of all the saints above to put into the foundation. With all the saints and the weather on our side there were no delays in progressing the building. A year later we are preparing to welcome pupils and staff into this state of the art facility.
The “Old School” was demolished in early July. It served the community well. It stood proudly for 65 years. It was evident on our “Farewell Evening” in July that people had lots of good memories and spoke very favourably about their time in the school.
“Amach leis an sean agus isteach leis an Nua” is an appropriate saying at this time. The old school had done it’s time. The education provided and results achieved were of a very high standard. Time moves on though and over the past 20 years it has always been a desire that Cahergal would have a more modern school. I am proud to say it has finally been achieved.
As Henry Ford said: “If everyone is moving forward together then success takes care of itself.”
A school is more than a building. It is also about the people and the community there. Various Boards of Management, Staff, and parents both past and present, neighbours and friends deserve to see this project come to fruition. A 6-classroom school with ancillary rooms, library and G.P. room are ready to be occupied. My heart leaps with joy every time I walk down those wide corridors. A service of a Breakfast Club, Preschool and After School will be provided to a loyal and supportive community. Helen Mannion, owner of “Little Hands” will provide this wonderful service.
We promise to maintain the friendly, happy learning environment in the New School and in 65 years, people will hopefully say on their farewell evening —
“It was a great school and a lovely place to be”.