OUR LADY of Lourdes National School in Ballinlough is taking a trip down memory lane today.
The foundation stone for Our Lady of Lourdes school was laid in 1943 on a site on the Ballinlough Road, which was presented as a gift to the parish by Mr Dominic M. O’Connor, Villa Nova, Douglas Road. The school was built by Messrs. J. & P. Bradley at a cost of £5,500. The architect was Mr. J.F. McMullan.
On April 3, 1944, the Very Rev. W. Canon Murphy officially opened and blessed the school. There were only three classrooms initially, accommodating 120 children — girls throughout and with a mixed junior section. Mrs Coughlan, the principal, along with Mrs Cramer and Miss Kathleen Lynch, comprised the original staff.
In the 1950s, Miss Kathleen Lynch painted a mural in the junior infants’ classroom, which is still there today.
As the school’s reputation grew, so did the number of classrooms, with three more added on in the early years. Two more extensions followed; one in 1999 and another in 2014. The school now accommodates 250 girls only as the mixed junior department finished in 2006.
The original school uniform was navy and this was later changed to a wine pinafore and cream shirt, designed by Miss Kathleen Lynch. The school was the first lay school in Cork to have a uniform. The school motto ‘No cross, no crown’ was also Miss Lynch’s idea.
As the years went by, the open fires which heated the school were replaced by storage heaters and, subsequently, a gas heating system.
1994 marked the retirement of the school’s last teaching principal, the hard-working Mrs Eileen O’Connor, who had taught a current teacher at the school, Joan Moloney. Former pupils recall Eileen as being an extremely hard working, diligent teacher who achieved a high standard in all subjects, particularly in Irish. An egalitarian attitude and a sense of fairness were the hallmarks of her approach.
As technology began to make in-roads into education, the school replaced its traditional blackboards with interactive whiteboards in 2010.
In 2010, Mrs Mary Twomey, the school’s first administrative principal, retired. She was the longest serving staff member to date, with 26 years as a classroom teacher and 16 as principal. Under her charismatic leadership, Our Lady of Lourdes completed its largest extension in the history of the school to date — the addition of a new school hall in 1999, which has been the scene of many musical and other celebrations since.
On Friday, November 17, Lyric FM presenter, Evelyn Grant, was invited to launch the 75th anniversary celebrations at the school. Sopranos Mary Hegarty and Cara O’Sullivan also attended the launch, along with three generations of two Cork families who had attended the school.