Tuesday, November 6th, 2012.
Nestled in the heart of south Mayo, Gortskehy National School in the parish of Roundfort has been home to generations of local children since 1887. This year, the school celebrates 125 years of educational prowess and recently, Marian Harkin MEP visited the area and unveiled a plaque at the site of the old school.The anniversary celebrations coincided with the visit of representatives from across Europe as part of the 2012-2014 EU Comenius Programme. 18 teachers from France, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Turkey – whose schools will carry out joint projects with Gortskehy as part of the programme – joined in the celebrations.
Mother Nature was smiling down on the community for the occasion and blue skies provided the backdrop as the oldest past pupil present, John Hession, planted a tree with the help of the school’s youngest pupil Evan Gannon. It was a great day of historical commemoration in Gortskehy. Past pupils and teachers gathered to mark the occasion while Carmen Cullen – niece of the famous late ballad singer and past pupil Delia Murphy – travelled from her home in Wicklow to witness the unveiling.
Fr. Michael Murphy led prayers for all pupils and teachers who have passed through the school over its long history and there was a great welcome for Theresa Higgins, former principal, along with Phil Roche who retired earlier this year. Theresa and Phil served in Gortskehy for over 30 years and, undoubtedly, it wouldn’t have been the same without them there.
The event also provided an opportunity for the community to welcome Niamh Naughton who was appointed permanent teacher in the school in September. Delighted to be part of the celebrations, the visiting teachers enjoyed a display of hurling and gaelic football and were thrilled to receive gifts of scarves, generously sponsored by Foxford Woollen Mills.
Later, the celebrations continued in Delia Murphy’s Bar in Roundfort, where the pupils performed music, song and dance to the delight of all.
Past pupil, Delia Murphy, recorded The Blackbird, The Spinning Wheel and Three Lovely Lassies for HMV, London, in 1939. The Spinning Wheel featured on the album ‘1939 – A Time to Remember’ along with the timeless classic by Al Bowlly, Love is the Sweetest Thing. Both recordings feature in the above video of our 125th anniversary. We’re grateful to Justin (6th class) and past pupils James and Patrick for taking the video.
Sincere thanks to Joe Queenan, Managing Director of Foxford Woollen Mills who generously sponsored Foxford scarves as a gift for our European guests.