Branching Out in Bansha

Clare Champion, Friday, 26th May 2000

Bansha National School, which opened one hundred and twenty years ago, is the most westerly and the smallest school in the parish of Doonbeg. This two teacher establishment has a roll call of thirty six at the moment while a learning support teacher also visits the school.

Although the original one classroom was later divided in two, with the advent of modern furniture, libraries, information technology and teaching aids, space is inadequate and hopes are now pinned on a positive response to an application for an extension which includes a learning support classroom.

Irish music and dance are an important feature of the school. Local dance teacher, John Fennell, teaches set dancing and children perform at the annual West Clare Dancing Feis. Geraldine McNamara teaches traditional Irish music on a variety of instruments. School children sing in the choir of the local church, St. Senan's in Bealaha. They also sing at the annual summer Mass at the nearby St. Senan's altar, and for celebrations on St. Senan's feast day on March 8th, children are given an opportunity to display their musical and dramatic abilities in an annual concert before Christmas. In recent times, competitors have successfully taken part in art competitions organised by the West Clare Drama Festival, Conradh na Gaeilge and Kilrush Credit Union.

Senior girls and boys participate in the Doonbeg parish teams for inter-school football competitions. Some of the senior boys recently took part in the INTO/GAA Mini-Sevens. Athletes from the school compete in the annual West Clare cross-country event in Kilmihil and also in Community Games. All children avail of the swimming lessons offered by Kilkee Waterworld as part of the school's P.E. programme. Each year, children take part in a fund-raising walk while during the month of May, a skipathon is held, the proceeds of which are forwarded to the Irish Heart Foundation. This sponsored session involves class competitions in various skipping skills. Two special awards are presented each year to the best junior and senior athlete after the sports day events.

In the current year, the school quiz team were runners-up in both the local Credit Union Quiz and the Irish Kidney Association Quiz. They also participated in the Clare Community Games Quiz. This year for the first time, two schools teams will take part in Spraoicheist Gael-Linn, an Irish quiz.

Field trips play an important part in the social, environmental and scientific education programme. Recent trips included climbing Mount Callan, looking at oyster farming in Poulnasherry Bay, visiting Scattery Island, two walking tours of the Burren and a guided tour of sites of interest in the parish which included the new golf course in Doughmore.

Pupils also go on annual school tours, which are eagerly looked forward to. This year the juniors will go to Fortfield Farm in Killimer and the seniors to Ballyloughran Activity Centre, near Lisselton in north Kerry. A valuable element of the S.E.S.E. programme is visits by local environment enthusiast, John Carmody. Of recent interest was a very rare black swan, which had a feeding ground locally with its two white companions. This was a familiar sight to some of the school children. At the Doonbeg "Planning for Real" day on May 7th, senior pupils displayed a map of their local area and a model of the village of Bealaha.

Children have enjoyed using information technology since 1996 when parents fund-raised for the school's first computer. Three issues of a school magazine were published at the school in recent years. Bansha was also one of the first schools in Clare to receive a Unison T.V./Video/Internet system. This was achieved by the tremendous support of parents and the local community who helped to collect the necessary "Irish Independent" tokens.

Elaine Greene in class at Bansha
National School.
Having fun in the playground at Bansha
N.S. were Brian Egan, Patrick Hanrahan
and Orla Hassett.

Photographs by John Kelly, Clare Champion.

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