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Cork Lives
DAYS GONE BY: Our Lady of Lourdes School students in 1948, Noreen Cramer is fourth from left on the back row and Eleanor Walsh is second from left on the front row.
DAYS GONE BY: Our Lady of Lourdes School students in 1948, Noreen Cramer is fourth from left on the back row and Eleanor Walsh is second from left on the front row.
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Photo album marks 75 years of school

OUR LADY of Lourdes National School in Ballinlough is taking a trip down memory lane today.

The school, which marks its 75th anniversary this year, has organised a number of events.

The highlight will be a gala concert ‘Come Celebrate’ at Cork Opera House on Thursday May 10, 2018.

The school’s long tradition of singing goes back to the early days when a teacher, Miss Kathleen Lynch, instilled a love of music in many of her young pupils. These included the renowned Cork soprano, Mary Hegarty, who will sing at the concert.

Cara O’Sullivan is also headlining the event, which will feature the school choir as well as singers Lorraine Manley, Siobhán Coakley and The Knockrea Singers — a group set up by Miss Lynch.

 CLASS OF ‘54: Our Lady of Lourdes National School Confirmation Class in 1954, Irene O’Sullivan is sixth from left on the back row.

CLASS OF ‘54: Our Lady of Lourdes National School Confirmation Class in 1954, Irene O’Sullivan is sixth from left on the back row.

Mary Lucey, principal of Our Lady of Lourdes, said: “We will be raising our voices in celebration of 75 years of choral excellence and education. It promises to be a heart-warming occasion where anyone who enjoys great music can get together for an evening of song, dance and memories.”

In advance of the concert, the school is holding an Open Day on Saturday, April 14, from 11am until 1pm where past pupils can walk the corridors, visit their old classrooms and reunite with old school friends. It is hoped that those attending will bring photographs with them so that they can be scanned and saved for the school’s archives.

 LINING UP: Junior Infants Class, 1944, including, front row seated, fourth from left: Cora Twomey; sixth from left: Kathleen Noonan, and tenth from left: Catherine O’Byrne.

LINING UP: Junior Infants Class, 1944, including, front row seated, fourth from left: Cora Twomey; sixth from left: Kathleen Noonan, and tenth from left: Catherine O’Byrne.

Another interesting feature at the school is a beautifully hand-painted mural, painted in the 1950s by Miss Lynch.

Mary Lucey said: “Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the school over the years, we have held onto that mural as it is so much part of the school’s history and Miss Lynch’s amazing creative talent.”

Miss Lynch’s legacy lives on at the school and her standards have been maintained over the years by subsequent teachers such as Anne Coughlan and Eileen Dullea.

 EDUCATING POLITICIANS: The First Holy Communion from Our Lady of Lourdes in 1948. Past pupil Donal Counihan, former Councillor and Lord Mayor of Cork, is pictured third from the left in the front row.

EDUCATING POLITICIANS: The First Holy Communion from Our Lady of Lourdes in 1948. Past pupil Donal Counihan, former Councillor and Lord Mayor of Cork, is pictured third from the left in the front row.

Current staff includes several teachers who are maintaining the strong musical tradition of choral performance. Margaret Cashman, Speech and Drama teacher, has been a valued member of the school for over 40 years and the girls sweep the boards at Feis Maitiú on an annual basis under her direction and guidance.

The school choir takes part in regular concerts, pageants, carol services, visits to homes for the elderly and Cór Fhéile na Scoil. In 1999, the girls took part in the Torc of Gold, an opera written for primary school children by Colin Mawby. There was a concert with Cara O’Sullivan in Cork City Hall in 2009, and a concert with the Irish Tenors in Cork Opera House in February 2014, to name just a few.

 PROCESSION: Students at Our Lady of Lourdes School in the May Procession. Kathleen Noonan (neé Waters) is standing in the centre of the picture.

PROCESSION: Students at Our Lady of Lourdes School in the May Procession. Kathleen Noonan (neé Waters) is standing in the centre of the picture.

More recently, on Sunday, February 11, the choir was joined by Mary Hegarty to sing the 12 Mass in Ballinlough Church as a celebration of Our Lady of Lourdes feast day and 75th anniversary.

For more on the upcoming concert, see https://www.facebook.com/75OLOL/

Tickets for the ‘Come Celebrate’ concert are available from Cork Opera House Box Office on 021 427 0022.

 A SPECIAL DAY: Catherine O’Byrne and Noreen Cramer making their Holy Communion in 1946.

A SPECIAL DAY: Catherine O’Byrne and Noreen Cramer making their Holy Communion in 1946.

Marking the milestones at Our Lady of Lourdes NS

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.

 COMMUNION MEMORIES: The school’s confirmation class, 1951. Middle row, first on left: Cora Twomey; fourth from left, Kathleen Noonan; second from left, Noreen Cramer; and seventh from left, Catherine O’Byrne.

COMMUNION MEMORIES: The school’s confirmation class, 1951. Middle row, first on left: Cora Twomey; fourth from left, Kathleen Noonan; second from left, Noreen Cramer; and seventh from left, Catherine O’Byrne.

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.

 A SINGING TRADITION: Students from Our Lady of Lourdes School who were winners in 1966 at Feis Maitiu, featuring twins Mary (fifth left, back row) and Helen Hegarty (third in the front row). Mary will be singing in the ‘Come Celebrate’ concert at Cork Opera House on May 10.

A SINGING TRADITION: Students from Our Lady of Lourdes School who were winners in 1966 at Feis Maitiu, featuring twins Mary (fifth left, back row) and Helen Hegarty (third in the front row). Mary will be singing in the ‘Come Celebrate’ concert at Cork Opera House on May 10.

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.