"Mullagh" Top of the Hill, Top of the Class

Clare Champion, Friday, 18th February 2000

"Mullagh" in the townland of Finuremore and Parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane, meaning 'the top summit, head or ridge', has traditionally been a small thriving village. Like many similar rural, peripheral locations it suffers from last of industry emigration and out migration.

Consequent upon this, local services are often adversely affected.  Mullagh National School which serves this village and the adjoining community was formally initiated on March 11th, 1844, when an application for a school was made by Rev. Edmund Barry. This school was to replace existing hedge schools of the locality and had a projected enrolment of 220 pupils. The application found favour and the school was opened on May 22nd, 1846, with potential enrolment of 270 males and 240 females.  Over the next century the school maintained an approximate enrolment of 80 to 100 pupils. However, the 1940's to 1960's dealt a severe blow to Mullagh National School. Emigration denuded many rural areas of their youth and Mullagh was no exception.

In fact, when the school needed proper sanitation and a new roof in the early 1980's the Department of Education stated that it was not their policy to meet such considerable capital expenditure on a school to consider amalgamation. But for the tenacity of the board of management of this time and personal contributions from parents as well as voluntary labour this school might not exist today.

Aided by the reverse migration of the seventies, Ireland's entry to the EEC and a more favourable economic climate, the school began a resurgence from the mid-eighties. Enrolments continued to increase and have stabilised about the seventy pupil mark today. Consecutive boards of management embarked on modernisation projects and to them and the parent body a great deal of credit is due. Finance was often scarce and many doorbells were rung!

In fact, but for locally driven initiatives, Mullagh National School would be a sad state of development. Over the period new toilet blocks were added, a basketball court and play area was constructed.  Consequent upon an enrolment increase, in 1990 an additional room was furnished.  Recent developments include a school library/medical room and an enhancement of education at Mullagh National School.

While the traditional subjects are comprehensively catered for and high academic standards are expected and achieved, pupils now enjoy a much broader curriculum. Information technology has been absorbed into the schools curriculum as has a European language - French. These subject areas are available to pupils as an inherent element of their education.

On the physical education front, swimming is now available to all pupils during school hours as well as our traditional games. The school is fortunate to have access to the Mullagh Community Sportsfield and Mullagh Hall which are excellent local amenities. Both girls and boys have figured highly with Kilmurry Ibrickane at both under age and senior level. In fact, this year our parish school boys again won the Division A football trophy captained by a Mullagh pupil. On the extra curricular front, pupils inherent skills are developed through exposure to a variety of competitions and experiences inclusive of drama, arts and crafts, music, I.T., etc.

The present staff of the school are: Mrs. Connie Sexton, herself a past pupil of the school; Mrs. Genevieve Pender, Vice-Principal; Mrs. Geraldine McMahon, Specialist Literacy Teacher based in Mullagh serving the Parish of Kilmurry Ibrickane and Mr. Sean McMahon, Principal.  The present B.O.M. is chaired by Mr. Tim Donnellan while Very Rev. T. Touhy is the schools' religious facilitator.

As we gingerly progress into the third millennium and embrace a new curriculum, it can be a matter of local pride that Mullagh National School is poised to offer an excellent education to this and future generations from the community it serves.

Michael O'Kelly in class at Mullagh N.S. Some of the Mullagh N.S. pupils getting
ready for a game of Basketball at lunchtime

Photographs by John Kelly, Clare Champion.

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