25 Jun 2022

Minister Foley opens Redwood National School extension

Minister Foley opens Redwood National School extension

Minister for Education Norma Foley invited pupils from Redwood NS to help her cut the ribbon to officially open the new extension to the school last week


The Minister for Education Norma Foley visited North Tipperary last Thursday to officially open the new extension in Redwood National School.

The children performed for the Minister and guests outdoors, in beautiful weather, and the Minister was clearly delighted and charmed with the event.

Redwood National School is a two teacher school located in a beautiful rural area near historic Redwood Castle. The school also has two shared learning support teachers weekly and the pupils enjoy the benefits of low pupil-teacher ratios.

Also in attendance at Thursday's opening was the Patron of the school Bishop of Killaloe Fintan Monahan, Deputy Michael Lowry, Deputy Jackie Cahill and Cllr Michael O'Meara of Nenagh Municipal District.

The extension will allow more space for the current students and staff, with a new kitchen, office, classroom and sensory room, in addition to works completed externally, which Principal Michelle Hogan says has brought new life to the whole community.

Under the direction of Ms Hogan the pupils sang and danced for the guests. The principal said the pupils are playing music and performing songs through lámh (which is a signage system that assists the singers).

She said the extension is a massive boost. “We were quite cramped up to this, and now we have a facility that we can function in better. It's rejuvenated the whole area and everyone in the whole area is delighted with it. For us as staff working here it's brought new life to the place.”

The children began by singing “Come let us gather before Him, Come let us give thanks today.”

The Principal welcomed everyone “to this most northerly point of Tipperary on this day of glorious weather.” She said the Redwood area is “steeped in history”.

Adult musicians Noreen Ryan, Pio Ryan and Darren Bourke accompanied the children as they played on their tin whistles.

Past pupil Seamus King gave a fascinating run-through of the educational history of Redwood.

The principal said the school had been participating in the “Say Yes to Languages” primary languages sampler and was finding it a very positive experience.

She also praised the excellent work carried out by Conor Kelly Construction from Limerick, who built the extension. She warmly praised the SNA Paula Sullivan and fellow teachers, Helena Darcy, Marie Holmes, Pauline McIntyre and Aine Connolly.

Bishop Monahan blessed the school. His blessing was as gaeilge. “We are in the pastoral, beautiful parish of Cois Deirge,” said the Bishop, “one of the most beautiful pastoral parishes in the diocese of Killaloe.” He praised the children for their rendition of The Gathering Song which he often hears performed at Confirmations. His blessing in Irish asked for God's protection for the teachers and pupils in the school. The Bishop concluded by sprinkling holy water on the pupils, staff and guests.

Seamus King told the gathering that the new extension has been designed according to the most up-to-date educational standards “in which the children will be able to learn in a stress-free and positive environment.”

Seamus said he started attending the school 80 years ago in 1942. It was a very different place then. Heating was provided by a turf fire and the toilet facilities were primitive. Hurling wasn't allowed, in order to protect the large windows in the place. “I don't think the concept of happiness entered the ethos of that educational experience,” he remarked.

He recalled the mad rush out of the classroom each day when the classes finished at 3.30. “I went home over the fields, by streams, crossing hedges. It was a beautiful landscape; and still is. Sometimes we went to school on my father's ass and cart. The ass could be stubborn and slow.”

He said the school replaced a school in Kilmurry down the road. Redwood NS opened in 1939. Kilmurry NS only existed for 13 years. Kilmurry, he said, was situated on a former graveyard and sometimes bones could be seen. “Perhaps the Minister for Education could find out why the school in Kilmurry was closed after only 13 years?”

Kilmurry had replaced a primary school which was located in a room in a large house (owned by the Trenches) beside Redwood Castle. The teacher of that school in the 1870s was Winifred Carroll and her salary was £25. Prior to that school, a hedge school operated in the area.

Between 1350 and 1640 the MacEgans lived in Redwood Castle. The MacEgans were a famous Brehon family who ran a renowned school of law and letters in Redwood Castle. The MacEgan Sept were Ireland's most famous family of Brehon lawyers. The famous Leabhair Breac and parts of the Annals of the Four Masters were written in Redwood. The Annals were written in Irish (there are manuscript copies in Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy). The Annals are a chronicling of Irish history from the Deluge, dated as 2,242 years after creation, to AD 1616.

“Redwood,” said Seamus, “is therefore a place to be proud of, where things of the mind were to the fore.”

Minister Foley said the opening was a “very important and significant occasion.” She said the two years of the pandemic had been a very challenging time “and it's wonderful to be meeting once again for lovely occasions like this.” She praised the Board of Management and the parents of the pupils. “Our schools would not exist if we didn't have the confidence of the parents.

“We speak of the concept of partnership in Education. I know as a teacher, a TD and a Minister that it is only as a partnership that we can achieve things.”

The Minister said Redwood is a wonderful school with fantastic staff. “You have achieved your Green Flag, your Active Flag. You are participating in the Languages Sampler. You are delivering excellence in education every single day. You are ambitious for your pupils and they are rising to the challenges.

“The pupils were superb today, very attentive and focussed. If I was their teacher I would be bursting with pride.”

She said to the pupils that our schooldays are very important and the memories live on throughout our adult lives. “And when you leave school your teachers will continue to follow your careers in the adult world, bursting with pride at your successes.”

The Minister then cut the ribbon and was given a tour of the school by the Principal.



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