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School’s girl power still going strong at 85

May 29, 2012

The country’s last remaining all-Irish girls’ boarding school has celebrated its 85th aniversary.

Colaiste Ide outside Dingle, Co Kerry, is also the only seven-day boarding school where all teaching is done through the medium of Irish.

Over the weekend, former GAA commentator and chairman of the board of directors at the school, Miceal O Muircheartaigh, joined in the celebrations that included the blessing of a new extension that replaces prefab classrooms.

The school was open three years before Micheal was born in Dun Sion on the other side of Dingle town.

There are now 142 full-time students at the school, which is one of the biggest employers in the Dingle area.

Apart from a teaching staff of 14, the school also employs an additional 40 people who make up the supervisors, kitchen and maintenance staff.

The school building is housed in the former Burnham Manor, which was the residence of Lord Ventry, the local landlord.

The Sisters of Mercy opened the house as a preparatory college for teachers in 1927 and it became a secondary boarding school for girls in 1961.  The last nuns left the school in 1996.

Aine Ni Chearbhaill became principal in 2008 and is herself a past-pupil of the school and its former home economics teacher.

“I did my Leaving Cert here in 1996 which was also the last year there were nuns in the school,” she told the Irish Independent.

“After that numbers dropped and there was a question mark over its viability without the nuns.

“Then a group of parents set up Cairde Cholaiste Ide and they launched a strong campaign to ensure it stayed open.  Since then, thankfully, numbers have been on the rise,” she added.