• by James A. Mc Donough, Principal, originally printed in “Dálta”, the Vocational School Magazine, 1973

Outside of cities and larger Urban areas where Technical schools had been established in the early years of this century Carndonagh was one of the first, if not actually the first small urban provincial centre where day courses in Manual Instruction (woodwork), Domestic Economy and Commercial training were provided.

The ‘Tech’ as it was popularly known first provided the above courses in the Colgan Hall in the twenties, the late Mr. James McDonough being in charge of the school.

Many now elderly and middle-aged people, successful in various spheres of industrial and commercial life in Carndonagh town and district, and indeed in places much further afield can bear testimony to the excellent tuition which they received at the ‘Tech’ in the Colgan Hall. Not only did the teachers conduct day courses, they also held night classes in the school and short courses in practical subjects in outlying centres such as Urris, Malin, Bocan, Redcastle, Gleneely and Moville.

With the passing of the Vocational Education Act 1930, a bright future was ushered in for Vocational and Technical Education.

 Many highly qualified teachers joined the staffs of these schools and applied themselves with great vigour and enthusiasm into the work of developing this new system of Vocational and Technical Education. Nowhere was the new system more eagerly accepted and more fully availed of than in County Donegal and particularly in Carndonagh and district where a dedicated staff of teachers down the years gave efficient and unstinted service to both youth and adult; the former were trained within the limits of the facilities available, the latter attending evening or night classes. The adult classes were much sought after and well attended.

The demand for Vocational Education in Carndonagh was so great that in 1950 it was considered necessary to provide new school buildings. The new school was built on an excellent site, provided at a nominal cost by Rev. Fr. Bonner, P.P., V.F., Carndonagh. The architect was Mr. C.V. McLaughlin and builders were Messrs. McLaughlin Bros.

Working now on an expanded curriculum it was soon evident that even this new accommodation was inadequate and plans were prepared for extensions. These extensions were provided by the inauguration of Building Construction Courses for apprentices and were successfully conducted by Mr. Manus O’Doherty.

 With the introduction of free transport, free enrolment and book grants the enrolment from 1966 was such that further accommodation was an urgent requirement, hence the numerous prefabs. Enrolments in the day school rose from 270 in 1965 to 519 in 1972. To properly accommodate this ever increasing enrolment, the V.E.C. in 1968 approved the building of a large permanent extension to Carndonagh school. Plans were prepared and presented to the Department of Education for approval. These plans were held in abeyance by the Department until 1971 when it was announced that Carndonagh was one of the centres selected for a Community School.

Since 1966, when Leaving Certificate Courses were first included in the curriculum of the school, the well-established tradition of providing a suitable mix of academic and practical subjects was maintained in these courses, and consequently the school ranks at the present time as one of the leading post-primary schools in the country, ‘comprehensive’ in its curriculum and ‘community’ in that it is represented on the V.E.C. by local representatives. The principal and staff are assiduous in advising students on the selection of careers, bearing in mind their aptitudes and school records.

Those of her erstwhile colleagues who are still members of the school staff will not consider it amiss that Miss Annie Doherty, Bridge House, Carndonagh, ex Domestic Science Teacher and recognised doyen of all in her profession should receive special mention. She was a philosopher, advisor and friend to all her students. She had a flair for bringing out the best in them and imparting to each something of her own sterling qualities of heart and mind. A sincere word of gratitude to her from all her past students and colleagues.

The Carndonagh Vocational School is about to be merged in the new Community School. One can only hope that in whatever arrangements are made for the merger, the school, as it now exists will not lose its identity but that it will preserve its status and reputation as part of the larger educational complex.

James A. McDonough, Principal

From “Dálta” – Vocational School Magazine, 1973

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