Our School Past and Present
Seeing the need for education among the children of his
tenant farmers, Lord Gough of Lough Cutra, in November
1865 submitted plans for a school to the Commissioners
of National Education. Lord Gough had previously erected
a Protestant church in Lough Cutra, hoping to get some of
his tenants to change their religion. However, there were
no jumpers and in 1866 Lord Gough decided to refurbish
the fine stone cut, slated building, erected at his own
expenses and turned it into a school. On New Year’s Day
1867, Lord Gough opened the school for the first time and
appointed Michael Cusack, who would later go on to found
the G.A.A., as the first headmaster.
The school was opened as non-denominational with Lord
Gough as its patron, manager and correspondent.
Michael Cusack was appointed principal of Lough Cutra on the last day of 1866. .
The best known teachers in Lough Cutra after Cusack were Mr. and Mrs. Clandillon. Mr. William Clandillon of Athy, Co. Kildare was appointed principal in 1885. In 1886 a new boys school was erected and two new teachers, Johanna and Brigid Little from Bodyke arrived to teach in the newly formed girls school. Mr. Clandillon later married Johanna and they lived in the school residence. The three teachers had trained in Tyrone House in Dublin. Mr. Clandillon had a keen interest in Botany and horticulture and in 1884 the school was recognised as a Garden National School. Lord Gough, himself a distinguished authority on botany and palaeontology wished to have the school placed with the Department of Agriculture but nevertheless gave Clandillon his support. The same year, Miss Brigid Little was appointed principal of the girl’s school.
Mr. William Clandillon died in the flu epidemic 1918 and was succeeded as school principal by his son Michael who remained at the helm until his retirement in 1948. His marriage to Margaret Hanratty, the assistant teacher in the national school forged closed the bonds between the Clandillons and Lough Cutra.
In the 1940’s Fr. Quinn decided to apply to have a new school built. It was completed and officially opened in 1946. The old boys’ school was knocked to make way for the new school and while the school was being built the children only went to school for half the day, the boys in the morning and the girls in the evening. Mr. Michael Burns took over as principal in 1948 and he remained in the position for 34 years until his retirement in 1982. He was a keen Irish language enthusiast and worked faithfully at restoring the use of the Irish language. His pupils won County Council Scholarship and the Dr. Martyn scholarship to St. Mary’s College. He retired after a long and distinguished career in 1982. He was succeeded by Mrs. Ita Clandillon.
She was replaced as principal in 1989 by Mr. Joe Killeen. Ms. Annette Lally was appointed in 1982 and Ms. Caroline Rock, (now Mrs. Kelly) in 1989. The roof of the school was replaced in 1987 and other facilities were improved between 1987 and 1992. A fourth teacher Ms. Carmel Connolly was appointed in 1984.
Subsequently Ms. Maurette Purcell was appointed Learning Support Teacher with Ms. Áine O’ Regan as Resource Teacher.
Recently, additional construction work has been carried out in the school by Custy Construction which included extra accommodation for a new A.S.D. Unit which was opened in September 2017 having previously been in a classroom.
Ms. Annette Lally retired as Deputy Principal in December 2017 after 35 years’ service.
At Present, we have 91 pupils on roll and Mrs. Power is the current principal. We have four mainstream class teachers; Ms. Purcell teaches Junior and Senior Infants; Ms. Finn teaches 1st and 2nd class; Mrs. Forde teaches 3rd and 4th class; Ms. Gill teaches 5th and 6th class. She is on maternity leave at the moment and Ms. D Diviney is taking her place. We also have an ASD unit where Ms. M Diviney is at the helm.
The Department of Education has granted an extension to the current building and we have also been awarded €11900.00 from the Sports Capital Grant Scheme. Plans for a new playing pitch and extended carpark are currently underfoot.
Loch Cutra and Michael Cusack
On New Years Day 1867, Lord Gough the local landlord, opened Lough Cutra School and
appointed Michael Cusack as the first headmaster, a young man only 20 years old. He
became Senior Monitor in Carron school. Before long, he was singled out by the school
inspector as being the most promising monitor in the district, and recommended as
a pupil teacher for Enniscorthy District Model School in Dublin. The Model Schools
were not recognised by the Catholic hierarchy (which ran the vast majority of
national schools) and priests were instructed not to employ teachers trained in
these places. Nevertheless, Cusack took up his appointment at Lough Cutra with
little or no trouble.
Cusack's starting salary was £18 supplemented by weekly fees from students.
It was increased to £32 with fees of £12 per annum in 1868. In March 1867, he
employed his 14 year old brother Thomas as an unpaid monitor at Lough Cutra.
The following year he was paid the fine salary of £6.
Little is known about Cusack's stay in Beagh, but it appears he lodged locally, staying
at one stage in O'Neills in Croaghrim, the school residence having not yet being built.
It is said he walked from Carron to Lough Cutra every Monday morning and made the
return journey each Friday evening. According to local folklore 'he was a very fine master
and used to go bowling with the young men on Sundays'.
While in the area, Cusack became friends with Ned Treston and Daniel Burke and often accompanied them to local hurling games. Cusack's time in Lough Cutra was brief - by 1871 he left to take up the position of Master of English and Mathematics in St. Colman's School, Newry, Co. Down.