St Mark’s School in Newbridge celebrated 40 years in extistance on Thursday, March 13 last.
Retired teachers, former pupils including some from the very first class to attend the school along side the Minister of State for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon and CEO of the National Council for Special Education Teresa Griffin were all in attendance.
“The school first opened on 13 March, 1974 in the John F. Kennedy Hall in Kilcullen,” said school PRO Peter Donohoe.
“KARE had taken out a lease of £720 per annum with the Kilcullen Boxing Club, who owned the premises and 21 pupils enrolled on the first day. Patricia Greene was Principal and Rena Kelly was her assistant teacher. Catherine Craddock was employed as a teacher’s aide and Elizabeth Landers acted as the caretaker.”
Four bus routes had been drawn up to transport the pupils to and from school.
“The 4 bus drivers were Bill O’ Keeffe, Mick Chambers, Joe Condron and Christy Doran. On cold days Joe McTiernan treated staff and pupils to free soup and sandwiches in his restaurant. More pupils enrolled with John Keaney and Esther Kerrigan joining the teaching staff in September 1974. This meant that four classes were now squeezed in to the Hall with partitions between the classes. Meanwhile plans were underway to locate St. Marks in Newbridge. The Dominican Order sold a 3 acre site in Piercetown, at a greatly reduced value, to KARE on which to build a permanent school.” Jim Tunney, the then Minister of State in the Department of Education, officially opened the new building on November 20 1978.
“St. Mark’s is looking forward to the next 40 years of providing education to pupils for Counties Kildare, West Wicklow and East Offaly,” he added.