Brid Mackey turned back the years, and gladly braved the elements to plant a tree to mark the official opening of the Brannoxtown National School extension last Friday March 22.
This marked a historic moment as Brid was one of the first pupils to enter the school when it came under the auspice of the Catholic church back in 1928. The energetic former pupil took it all in her stride as Kieran McGeeney shook her hand and wished her well.
The proceedings began outside on an ice cold day when principal Dolores Burke welcomed everybody including the Kildare manager. Children played a short tune on their violins - a very impressive feat considering they are only learning the instrument for just seven months. Former principals, Miriam Nolan, Fidelma Farrell and Ester Reddy were also in attendance, as were many parents, and the wider community including last year’s sixth class. Parent Conor O’Toole introduced Kieran McGeeney, who went on to express his thanks for the invitation.
He said he wouldn’t be accustomed to performing openings like this but was delighted to be there. He encouraged the children to get involved in Gaelic football and enjoy it before it becomes more competitive at an older stage. Having fostered his own love of the sport in primary school, he noted; “Hopefully the girls and boys here will have a great interest in Gaelic football and will represent their county in the not to distant future. The first time I came to Kildare the likes of Niall Kelly and Daniel Flynn would not have been much older than the kids here today, so it doesn’t be long coming around.”
Once the plaque was unveiled, it was time to head indoors where Fr. Michael Murphy conducted a blessing with the aid of Tara Murphy who read the first reading, Pastor Robert Dunlop who gave a heart warming speech and the children read the prayers of the faithful. Brid Mackey explained how school was a lot different back in the twenties and she was really impressed with the new building. Fr. Murphy said the school has such a rich history since it was first founded back in 1885 as a baptist school before it came under the parish of Kilcullen in 1928. He praised everyone involved in bringing the project to fruition. Pastor Dunlop touched on how the school plays a very important role in the village and the wider community. John Kennedy from the Board of Management thanked the baptist community who afforded the opportunity for the school to be relocated to its grounds during the building work and to all the people who helped move the prefabs. He also thanked the teachers, the staff, the principal, members of the board of Management and the Parents Association. Eight children gleefully released helium balloons to represent each class in the school. With the gusty wind swirling, it wasn’t long before they were out of sight as the visitors went on a tour of the fabulous new building.