I went to school in Dublin where classrooms were packed with 30 or more students, so a recent visit to Mount Talbot NS was a novelty for me.
I was met by the lovely – and extremely chatty! – Laraine Brennan, who is the Principal of the school. I was also introduced to Special Needs Assistant Margaret Kelly. After meeting the teachers and being treated to a slice of banana bread, I was ushered into a classroom containing the school’s students.
After I told them what I usually did with my day (which I had been invited to do), they told me what they had been doing with theirs for the past year. I quickly realised that my days probably weren’t that busy after all, as they told me about previous visitors to the school, including genealogist Martin Curley, The Inland Fisheries, a nature walk with Gordon Darcy, weaving with Frances Crowe and past-pupils Paul Connolly (historian) and Mary Turley McGrath, to name but a few.
The school is located right in the centre of the picturesque Mount Talbot. It’s the kind of area that has come under threat in modern Ireland, and what a shame that is too. The school is vital to the area as it is such a community focal point.
Principal Laraine was quick to tell me about everything the staff and students had been doing over the past year. In short, they’ve been involved in pretty much everything that’s been going on in the local community and beyond. She said: “There’s such a lovely community spirit. We’ve taken part in the 1916 commemorations in Ballygar and here with the raising of the flag, we’ve also produced some great young athletes and won the schools camogie final against Four Roads.”
The list of the school’s endeavours and achievements would probably take up most of the paper and the fact that there are just 29 students attending Mount Talbot NS makes it even more impressive.
Laraine continued: “You name it, we’ve been a part of it, from Green Schools, cycling workshops, Junior Enterprise, drama, dancing and singing to World Book Day and everything in between!”
As well as being a hive of activity, it’s also a fine school and it’s no wonder past-pupils enjoy visiting. While I was there, two past-pupils popped in to see their former school. Three past-pupils were also awarded Gaeltacht scholarships recently, so the standard of tuition is clearly excellent also!
As I left the school to a lovely send-off – and nearly getting lost in the huge play area – I passed the old schoolhouse where school treasurer Emma Cronin lives. The students had visited her with a birthday cake for her 96th birthday, proving that community spirit is alive and well in Mount Talbot NS.