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St. Comgall's National School, Connons, Clones, Co. Monaghan



St. Comgall’s N.S. was established in the 1950s in Drumsloe, Clones, as a result of the local Laurelhill/Clonrye primary schools’ amalgamation. There was considerable delay in the initial construction of the school, resulting in the matter being raised in the Dáil by Dr. P.J. Maguire with the then Minister for Education, General Mulcahy. Dr. Maguire highlighted how the insanitary state of the two schools was causing huge concern and upset to the locals at the time. Subsequently, in 1952, on a site donated by Miss Catherine McCaffrey (teacher assistant), building work on St. Comgall’s was finally completed. Despite this fact, the ‘Leabhar Rollaí’ recorded that it was on 11th January 1954 that the school first opened its doors to fifty-five pupils. The school was officially opened by Sean Moylan, Minister of Education, and blessed by Dr. O'Callahan, Bishop of Clogher. Principal at that time was Master John James Marron, his teacher assistant was Catherine MacCaffrey, while School Manager was Rev. P. Ward P.P., Scotshouse, Clones. The building of St. Comgall’s N.S. was of great relief to the parents and children in the local Monaghan/ Fermanagh hinterland. A modern school of its time which had two classrooms; one served the junior classes, while the other classroom accommodated the senior classes up to 7th Class. Importantly, it also had separate male and female toilets and cloakrooms for the pupils.

Over the years the school earned a well-deserved reputation for delivering a high quality education programme to its pupils under the helm of its new Principal, Master Gerard Curran, who was appointed in 1957 and teacher assistant, Mrs. Breege Connolly who joined the school in 1965. As was the case for all primary schools in the State, reform of the primary school curriculum in the 1960s and the introduction of The Primary School Curriculum (1971) would have been factors that influenced evolving teaching and learning experiences for the rural Connons school cohort during those years.

Mr. Ted McCarthy was appointed to the position of principal at the school in 1994 and Gráinne Cassidy, Majella Beggan, Joan McGuigan and Michelle Woods took up teaching positions during his leadership. There then followed a two-year period, 2002-2004, during which time Geraldine Heekin joined Michelle Woods and together they assumed responsibility for teaching at the school. The present Principal, Catríona Donnelly, took up her role on the 1st September, 2004. Mrs. Ann Marie Pennell was appointed Assistant Teacher on the same day, while Mrs. Helen Maguire joined the staff as Special Needs Assistant in October of that same academic year, 2004-2005.

Details of further building developments were also announced towards the end of 2004-2005. It was confirmed that the school had successfully secured important D.E.S. funding through the ‘Small & Rural Schools Devolved Initiative’ for the planning and construction of improved works to St. Comgall’s N.S.. Such grants were designed to cater for building projects that would cater for the long-term accommodation requirements of small schools. Subsequently, the contractors arrived on site 13th June, 2006 and staff and pupils were grateful for temporary schooling accommodation in our local Connons Community Hall during the building period. Renovation works on a new two-classroom extension and entrance foyer were completed by October of that year. Additional remodelling features included the transformation of the former junior classroom into a staffroom and principal’s office; the overhaul of the senior classroom into a multi-purpose / Special Education Room, the conversion of cloakrooms into P.E. Storage Room and staff toilets, the installation of a new heating/plumbing systems and finally, the school was fitted with new rear windows. Externally, fencing was erected to border the school grounds. All in all, the renovations and extension converted St. Comgall’s into a modern, purpose-built, well-resourced school.

The official opening of the new extension by Mary Hanafin, Minister for Education, took place on Friday, 30th November, 2007. A proud day indeed for the whole school community; a primary school with a warm, welcoming environment had been created. Endless opportunities to continue fostering rich and meaningful teaching and learning opportunities for present and future generations of children, were secure.

The visit of President Mary McAleese to the school on Thursday, November 18th November, 2010 will go down in the history of the school as one of its most memorable days ever. President Mary McAleese was the first ever president to visit the school and the visit marked a truly wonderful occasion for all involved. It was heartening that so many families, extended family members and community representatives were in attendance to witness the historic event. Thanks was extended to members of the Board of Management, staff, pupils and parents for contributing to its success.

In June 2012, Helen Maguire’s position as Special Needs Assistant ended. Helen had been central to daily school life for the previous eight years. Mary Kirke joined our staff as Special Needs Assistant in September 2016. Then, in October 2017 we welcomed Elaine Hagan as our newest staff member to St. Comgall’s N.S. as she took up the position of Special Education Teacher in the school.