Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn, Clonmel’s all-Irish secondary school, celebrated its 10th anniversary with a Mayoral reception at the Town Hall on Friday night.
Mayor Pat English praised its huge success, the commitment of all involved in the school, the Coiste who set it up, the VEC and the CEO for their superb support for the Gaelcholaiste.
CEO Fionuala McGeever paid particular tribute to the Coiste. She expressed sincere thanks to parents and especially to primary schools who choose to send children to Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn.
The school began with 14 students. Today, with full enrolment, the school is co-ed with a 50/50 gender balance. Visits of two Education Ministers, Mary Hanafin and Batt O’Keeffe to the Aonad highlighted its significance educationally. Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn is exclusive because its students are part of 40,000 students nationally studying as gaeilge. The average number of points at Leaving Certificate in the Gaelcholáiste is 450, with many students exceeding 500. Grades in Irish well surpass the national average and Ms McGeever envisages the school expanding, with the continuing support of local communities and parents.
Retired Múinteoir i bhFeighil, Mathúin Ó Caoimh, was thrilled to greet so many past pupils who were back from universities and colleges. He expressed his joy to have taught such motivated, highly committed and self-disciplined students.
Ruairí Ó Caisleáin, a founding member of the school, said it was growing stronger each year, having developed its own unique identity. He highlighted the diverse extra-curricular activities including car design, debating, boat-building and sports.
Principal Charlie McGeever sincerely thanked the Mayor for honouring Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn. He commended everybody, past and present, connected with the school and praised the late Niall O’Neill, former principal, for his visionary guidance for the project.
He particularly thanked inspectors Fionn Ó Murchú and Kevin McCarthy, who ensured that Gaelcholáiste Chéitinn was fully resourced.
“The revival of Irish is afoot in Clonmel, as Irish is spoken daily by everybody in the Gaelcholáiste. Time spent by Idirbhliain building the currach epitomises the spirit of excellence characterising the school”, he added.
Josephine Chamney, chairperson of the board of management, spoke of the students’ self-confidence speaking Irish, praising the priceless heritage of Gaeilge agus an cultúr gaelach they will pass on to future generations.