St Dominic’s celebrates 50 years

By Mary Dennehy

THE pupils and staff of St Dominic’s National School took a walk down memory lane to celebrate their vibrant school’s 50th birthday.

Currently catering for around 400 pupils, St Dominic’s NS started its journey in 1970 after it opened as two schools, Lady of Loreto Boys and Lady of Loreto Girls.

St dominics 50 years 5th class 1

St Dominic’s 5th class students holding the school flag.

Leo Swan, archaologist, local historian and pilot, was the principal of the boys’ school from 1970 while Bernadette (Detta) McMahon was the first principal of the girls’ school.

The schools were founded as Tallaght was starting out on its own journey from rural village to large urban town, which resulted in hundreds of children attending the school in its early years.

According to information compiled in celebration of 50 years, the school was once said to be the largest primary school in Europe, with around 2,500 pupils on campus.

Prefabs dotted the school yard through the seventies to accommodate large numbers, with classes in excess of 50 pupils common.

As the development of Tallaght continued into the eighties and new schools opened, pupil numbers decreased.

map from mary with places 1

The construction of the school circa 1972

In 1990, with pupil numbers much lower, the girls and boys schools merged and became St Dominic’s NS due to its connection with the Dominician order both in nearby St Mary’s Priory in the village and the local parish church, St Dominic’s.

In 2015, St Dominic’s NS also merged with Scoil Colmcille, after many years of working together.

Today, the school has 400 pupils after student numbers started to increase over the past decade.

Between teachers, SNAs, cleaners, caretakers and secretaries, there is almost 50 staff members.

Six of the current staff members are also past pupils, which shows the positive impact and sense of place the school has instilled in pupils over the years.

After plans for a whole community celebration were postponed due to Covid-19,  current pupils and staff joined forces to visually mark their school’s momentous birthday and valuable contribution to life in Tallaght.

Students in Mr Looney’s fifth class carried out research on the history of the school and reached out through social media to past pupils and staff, along with interviewing current parents and members of the school team.

The information gathered was compiled into a visual walk down memory lane, which, displayed in the school hall, celebrated the school and its community.

The fifth class students were present at the launch of the display and got the opportunity to check out some ‘artefacts’ that the school used over the years, including old projectors and glantoirs (blackboard dusters).

Mr Looney and the fifth class pupils were supported by two past pupils who now work in the school, SNA Catherine Brady and caretaker Josh White.

Speaking with The Echo this week, principal Seamus Vaughan said: “I’ve met and spoken with a lot of parents about the huge community investment in the school in the early days.

“There was a lot of hard work done in the early stages, it was very much a community effort.

“The school has become a vibrant and exciting school with fantastic pupils, parents and staff.

“We’re also quite proud that we have six current staff members who are past pupils.

“This shows how tied the school is to the commnunity, and the high esteem people hold the school in.”

He added: “I’d like to say thank you to all of the fifth class students for their great work and the three staff members who helped.”

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