OVER 150 years of education in the town of Bruff are to be celebrated this Saturday, before the doors of Ard Scoil Mhuire secondary school are closed for the final time in June.
Pupils, staff, members of parents councils and boards of management, past and present, along with parishioners of Bruff, Grange and Meanus - in short anyone who has been associated with FCJ education in Bruff â€“ are invited to the school on Saturday for the commemorative day.
â€œItâ€™s a sad day. Itâ€™s a nostalgic day but also we want it to be a day of thanksgiving for all the good that has been done over the 156 years,â€ explained Sr Geraldine Lennon, principal of Ard Scoil Mhuire who has been teaching home economics and religion at the school for the past 34 years.
The day will commence with Mass in Bruff parish church at 11am and celebrations will include the launching of a commemorative school book.
â€œItâ€™s made up of peopleâ€™s memories and a lot of photographs as well,â€ said Sr Lennon.
There will also be a service in the FCJ convent cemetery and a photographic display and display of memorabilia.
â€œA lot of people handed in photographs and they couldnâ€™t be put into the book. As well as that there were a lot of other photographs that werenâ€™t going into the book,â€ Sr Lennon continued of the exhibtions.
â€œA film has also been made and there will be an audio video presentation with slides and music featuring the convent and the school,â€ she added.
The day will conclude with a musical interlude in the hall at approximately 4pm and refreshments will be served throughout the day. The school will close its doors in June for the final time when the current 41 Leaving and Junior certificate students complete their State exams.
The school has been providing secondary education in the town since 1856 and there was also a boarding school attached to the school for several years.
In 2009, the FCJ order announced that it was no longer able to commit the level of funding required for the school on an ongoing basis, and, therefore, would no longer be able to remain as trustees beyond 2013. A group of parents formed a committee called the Bruff School Action Committee and organised a number of public rallies in the town in a bid to safeguard the future of the school.
Hundreds of people turned out at several meetings in the town to organise a strategy to ensure the schoolâ€™s future.
Three options in relation to the future of the school were examined including looking for another trustee group to take on the trusteeship of the school, the possibility of an amalgamation with another school, or closure.
All the feeders schools in the area were also contacted in an effort to make it known that Ard Scoil Mhuire was open for business. Two banners spelling out â€˜Save our Schoolâ€™ were erected across the street and a petition was circulated in the area as part of the campaign to keep the school open. It was signed by approximately 2,500 people.
According to sources there has been no decision made in relation to the future use of the Ard Scoil Mhuire building and grounds.