COLÁISTE Íde agus Iosef in Abbeyfeale is a “school that embraces the whole person”, according to the Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan.
The Minister was speaking at the official opening of the community college which was attended by over 850 people, including students, teachers, parents and local representatives.
She described Coláiste Íde agus Iosef as “an ideal school where everybody comes to school together and where you can bring all of the different qualities that are here in this community”. As part of the official opening, the Minister also unveiled a piece of art commissioned specially for the school, entitled Planting A Seed. The artwork, created by Carol Anne Connolly and Augustine O’Donoghue under the Per Cent for Art scheme, features a bronze sculpture made up of branches from apple trees in the local area.
The piece was inspired by Isaac Newton, who reputedly was prompted by a falling apple to develop his laws of gravitation. The artists wanted to incorporate the ideal of excellence in education and science into the project and felt Newton represented such excellence. They worked closely with the students in a number of workshops during the past year and a four of the students explained the installation during Friday’s ceremony.
Also speaking at the ceremony was the Mayor of Limerick City and County, Liam Galvin. A native of Abbeyfeale, Cllr Galvin praised the “enormous efforts” put in by so many people to bring the school to where it is today. “It is the focal point of our town,” he added.
Principal Jim Tierney outlined the sometimes “daunting” challenge when the amalgamation happened. “All were charged with preserving a distinguished heritage and continuing a long and proud provision of educational excellence in the locality,” he said. Through the “determination, diligence and dedication” of the school community he believed that this had been achieved. “Coláiste Íde agus Iosef is a community college for all of the community,” Mr Tierney added.
He later presented the Minister with a wooden bowl crafted by Abbeyfeale’s Liam Flynn. The ash used in the making of the piece was sourced from a tree felled in the grounds of the old Vocational School
George O’Callaghan, chief executive of Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) drew attention to the many that had worked so hard on the project to bring the “dream” to fruition.
Particular praise was reserved for his predecessor as chief executive, Sean Burke, and his hard work in the run up to the amalgamation.
Charlotte Collins, ceannaire of the school, also spoke as the democratically elected representative of the students. She spoke about the “huge hinterland” of the school and the great pride students felt for their school.
The ceremony finished when Fr Tony Mullins, representing the Bishop of Limerick, spoke of the long process involved in the establishment of the school but commended the commitment shown by many in achieving it. He then led the crowd in some prayers for all those connected with the school. The school band brought proceedings to a close with a selection of Irish music.
Coláiste Íde agus Iosef currently has over 660 students. While it has been opened as a second level school since September 2011, the special needs unit of the school only fully opened this September. This now means that all students in the catchment area encompassing counties Limerick, Kerry and Cork can attend second level school in the town.