Year One of a New Era at Cahercon

Clare Champion, Friday, 7th April 2000

Clare's newest Community College, St. John Bosco's, Cahercon, is sited on one of the most scenic settings in the country on the banks of the Shannon. It is steeped in history, has a long and proud tradition in teaching and preparing young people for the life ahead of them, and since last September, when it amalgamated with the nearby former vocational school in Kildysart to become a community college, St. John Bosco has commenced a new era in looking after the boys and girls of Co. Clare and surrounding counties.

The college has been founded on the solid foundations laid down by the previous owners, the Salesian Sisters and by County Clare Vocational Education Committee. Just less than 300 boys and girls are now on the rolls at Cahercon which combines the resources of the well respected Cahercon Convent and Kildysart Vocational School. Pupils and boarders enjoy an increased curriculum, facilities and activities than heretofore.

There is an upper limit on student places of 325 pupils and this affords students a high level of personal attention at all times. Building on the many strengths of both colleges, in a unified manner, is unleashing an even greater level of buoyancy in the extra curriculum activities which have led to many national successes in the recent past, including second place in the National Young Scientist in 1999 and third place in the National Young Entrepreneur Competition in 1998.

Subjects being taught to first year pupils include art, Irish, French, English, history, computers, metalwork, home economics, technical graphics (including Autocad), P.E., maths, German, science, careers, religion, geography, business studies, civics, social and political education.

Cahercon Community College is building on great successes achieved over the years by combining greater resources and a broad spectrum of activities. Both the teaching staff and pupils pride themselves in the successes achieved in the county and at regional and national level in organised extra curricular activities. Some of the extra curricular activities include Young Entrepreneur Competition (3rd in All-Ireland 1998), Young Scientist Competition (2nd in All-Ireland in 1999), Young Engineer Award (1996), Kellogg's P.E. award, sports (football, soccer, basketball and badminton), debating (Irish and English), Investment Competition (Irish Independent), school magazine, cookery competitions, and computer based activities. For badminton classes, Michael O'Connell, who lives nearby, coaches both day pupils and boarders. At the present time there are 30 boarders attending the college from various parts of Clare and Limerick.

Labasheeda born, Marion Coughlan Flynn, who taught Irish and German in the college before being appointed principal of St. John Bosco, said they also organise many outdoor activities and special trips to broaden students knowledge on areas of particular interest.

The school principal states that the ethos at Cahercon is a caring one. On the academic front they enjoyed good results from year to year and they scored 7 A's in Gaeilge Junior Cert. On the practical side, many of their students pursued engineering and construction studies at third level and in apprenticeships.

With smaller classes, teachers in Cahercon are in a position to give individual attention and this was reflected in the good results in examinations. There is also a pastoral care programme and remedial and career guidance teachers are available.

They enjoyed all their sports and in basketball the first year students reached the All-Ireland play-off in Dublin recently. There was also great interest in hurling which was introduced to the college by Leo Donoghue, science teacher, who is a former hurler with Tubber. Pupils also enjoy foreign tours and places they visited include Rhineland in Germany, Paris, Barcelona and Switzerland and this year they are hoping to visit Northern Italy, starting off in Milan.

The college is also facilitating evening classes for adult education. The Board of Management, representative of Clare VEC and the Salesian Sisters, is chaired by Pat Shannon of the Clare Enterprise Board.

The college also has a 200 acre farm with a dairy herd and in charge of the farm is Nellie O'Connor. As well as having a magnificent setting, St. John Bosco's Community College also has a big advantage in the amount of space it has at its disposal to accommodate the various college activities. Pupils can play all their games and pursuits in safety and under supervision at all times.

The building which accommodates Cahercon college, which is just a short distance from Kildysart, has a long and varied history. Originally it was a landlord house and was occupied at one time by the vandeleurs who were also associated with Kilrush. In later years it accommodated Columban Missionary priests and nuns and at one stage was a seminary. There was also a school there during World War II. When it closed the Columbans stayed on and they had a knitting business there. When they decided to move to County Wicklow it was put up for sale. The Salesian Sisters then became involved in Cahercon at the request of the then Bishop of Killaloe, the late Dr. Joseph Rodgers. They opened their school there in the early 1960's and continued on until last year when Cahercon and Kildysart vocational school amalgamated to become St. John Bosco's Community College.

Carmel Doohan, Arlene Hayes and Sinead
Cleary whose project "Gloine" won them
fourth place in the Clare Enterprise Board
Mini-Company Competition recently.
    Cahercon students Pauline Sheehan and Deirdre
O'Connor who were winners at the Feile na hInse
Art Competition.

Photographs by John Kelly, Clare Champion.

Back to St. John Bosco Community College