IT’S onwards and upwards for Clydagh NS as the diggers and bulldozers moved in last week to clear the site for two new rooms to cater for the growing number of pupils at this school in its idyllic setting near Lough Corrib.
There was an air of excitement in the school on the day that The Tuam Herald visited, as the old sheds and an outdoor toilet block were demolished to make way for the new extension to the school.
Primary education has been central to life in the Clydagh area for close on 155 years and while the computers in the classrooms show that the school has stayed up to speed with all the new technology advances in education, it is nice to note that those involved today haven’t forgotten the school’s roots either.
The school had a visit recently from former Canadian Senator John LynchStanton, a great grandson of Sir George Thomas Staunton, who founded the first school in the Clydagh area back in 1839.
“We were delighted to welcome him to the school and the pupils were also excited when Irish International Soccer player Simon Cox visited us recently. He has three cousins, the Lees, going to school here,” says Principal Eileen Gleeson.All the children were doubly delighted when he was a goal scorer for Ireland in the friendly against Italy last week.
The school has a homely and welcoming atmosphere with an ideal pupil-teacher ratio of 12.5 to one. This may be more conducive to greater personal tuition than that of many larger schools, some of which could have a pupil-teacher ratio of up to 30 to one.
With greater emphasis now on the learning of a European language, as well as English and Irish, Clydagh NS is way ahead of most primary schools as every pupil from second class upwards learns French.
“It is a great advantage for them when they go to secondary school to already have a good knowledge of French,” says the principal. As she was very aware of how knowledge of a continental language could benefit the pupils, she herself got a post graduate qualification in French and has been teaching it in the school for several years.
There is also a strong emphasis on sport in the school including Gaelic football, soccer, tennis and hockey. Indoor games are also catered for and there is a great interest in chess among the senior classes at Clydagh NS. The children are also involved in swimming and have been going for lessons once a week during the last term.
As the area is so close to Lough Corrib it is to be expected that the pupils would have an interest in fishing and some of them take part in the children’s section of the Thomas Creaven Cup competition, which is organised annually by the Kilbeg and District Angling Club. It is in memory of former pupil, the late Thomas Creaven.
The pupils are also very proud of being among the winners of an award for a website that they designed for the Irish Aid competition for primary schools.
Only 100 Irish schools, out of almost 3,000, won awards and Clydagh NS got their award for designing a website which contrasted life for a rural child in Ireland with that of a rural child in Tanzania.
Many of the children take part in pottery workshops under the guidance of Laurence O’Reilly from Galway while a past pupil and artist, Mary Foran, is also giving the children lessons in art.
So diversity is the spice of life at Clydagh NS and as work begins on building the two new rooms at this school, it is proof that after almost 155 years primary education is still thriving and growing in the neat school near the shores of scenic Lough Corrib.