St Patrick’s Community College moved to the present site on Limerick Road in 1970. The site of this new school had been used annually for the Naas Carnival . It was also used by the then school caretaker Mickey Sheridan to graze his pony. An episode of the Riordans RTEs long running soap was filmed there in 1964. I taught there for forty years. Before that I taught in Moate Vocational School, Westmeath for one year. When I first taught there it was called The Naas Technical School, a fine proud name.
It was then changed to Naas Vocational School. This was done without any consultation with Staff or Students. It was then changed to St Patrick’s Community College.
All this will come to an end at the end of August 2009 when it will close. A new school called the Piper’s Hill College will open then.
St Patrick’s Community School had a fine history. Its original home was under the Naas Water Tower on the Naas Fair Green. The school, called Naas Technical School predated the 1930 Vocational Education Act .The top part of this where the school was, was demolished to rehouse the Naas Fire Brigade and the Naas Boxing Club is now housed there.
The school then moved to a portion the Devoy Barracks on the Limerick Road adjacent to the Naas Cotton Mills where it educated thousands of Naas, Caragh, Kill, Sallins etc boys and girls and Apprentices from all over the country until it closed in 1970 This was an amazing building. I was part of Devoy Army Barracks and when the school moved in there in the dim and distant past no conversion was done and the various classes just fitted into the existing rooms/ The Metalwork room consisted of three separate rooms divided by the entrance hallway, and the forge was in another room off the main metalwork room. This would not be possible today for many reasons . The metalwork teacher had to control all his students spread over the three rooms. So when he was helping a pupil with some forging work pupils in the other two rooms were unsupervised.
While boys and girls were educated there most of the classes were boys only and girls only and were educated to Group Certificate level only. This changed in 1967 when free second level educaion was introduced under Donagh O Malley when we taught up to Intermediate and Leaving Certificate level
The Co Kildare Vocational Education Committee had their offices there also under Mr Mullowney C.E.O. and then Mr Gerry Commins C.E.O.
I arrived there in September 1964 to teach on the apprentice classes that were due to start in January 1965 in the old school. These were the Bord Na Mona Fitter and Turner Block Release Courses.These were the first such courses ouside of the cities. The reason Naas was chosen was because a teacher of exceptional vision and talent Mr. Jack Hogan a teacher there, pioneered apprentice training locally, nationally and internationally.
When I arrived there among the teachers were Mr Liam Spring,who was the Principal, Jack Hogan, Min Tyrell, Nioclas O Maitiu, Brendan Begley, Breda Cullen, Kathleen Maud, Kathleen Lee. Another very important member of staff was Mickey Sheridan the Caretaker.
Other teachers who joined the staff later were Paddy Cooke,Tom Callan, Kathryn Concannon who later became Kathryn Callan Judy Hyland.Joan O Riordan, Pat Devaney Tom Casey,and John Curley
The Bord na Mona Block Release Course then started in January 1965. Apprentices came from as far up the country as Donegal down to from Cork and Kerry. The Apprentices stayed in “Digs” with Mrs Brennan an exceptional woman who was like a mother to them. The following September I started the Half Day Release course for Motor Apprentices which expanded into a full Day Release over the years.These apprentices came from garages all over Kildare, Wicklow and south Dublin. There are many Engineering Teachers around the country who went on to teacher training after finishing their apprenticeships in our school most notable among them was Tom Callan who returned to teach in his old Alma Mater. I had the pleasure also of having as colleagues Pat Cully ? Dunne and Edward Farrell former students of mine who taught with us for a few years.
Former students of the school hold responsible positions in businesses and institutions in Ireland and all over the world.
Martin Allen formerly from Pacelli Road Naas has his own advertising business in Boston.
Senior National Hunt handicapper Noel O’Brien is a former student.
Barry Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons Finance is a former student.
Dr.Martin Corcoran Senior Researcher in the Karolinska Institute Stockholm, Sweden.is a Geneticist .
Other former students include those working in the Medical field,teachers, business people,priests, engineers
A number of former teachers featured in the Arts and Literature. The late Kathleen Maud, a poet and actress and Fionnula Flanagan an internationally renowned actress of stage and screen taught in the Naas Technical School in the early sixtys.
Danny Gorman a novelist and short story writer Pat Devaney, a novelist and Ann Egan , a poet, are former teachers.
Former students must have great memories of extra curicular activities in the school. These included student exchanges with St. Hillaire School in Allaire Brittany run by the late Marjory Moloney, which led to Naas being twinned with the Canton of Allaire. Many life long friendships were developed on these exchanges.
I was involved with the Concern Christmas fast collection for many years. This was started in our school by Danny Gorman and raised thousands of Pounds for Concern. I was also organised a 24 hour charity Basketball Marathon for a number of years which was great fun for the students but not such fun for me, as I had to try and grab a few hours sleep on the floor of the Domestic Economy room trying not to listen to the students talking about their sexual experiences.
Outside of the normal school activities I was also involved with the founding of the Naas Summer Project that ran for 15 years. I was its Chairperson for 10 years. We entertained up to 600 children every year with the help of about 90 teenagers and 20 adults. Most of the activities were held in Naas Vocational School with visits to the seaside and swimming held externally. Our camping nights and Talent nights were highlights for most. Everyone who wanted to were able to perform on stage
for the first time. A number who now perform professionally had their first stage experience at the Naas Summer Project.
The annual sports day that we had every year was sponsored by Donnelly Mirrors who organise the whole day, supplied refreshments and all the prizes.
The Naas Parish Folk Group played a big part in Project entertainment in the early years. All of this was made possible with the support of Mr Gerry Commins C.E.O. of the Kildare Vocational Education Committee.
St Patricks Community College is of course run by the Kildare Vocational Education Committee. Its present C.E.O. is Sean Ashe. This committee is a political one and most of its members are politicians or nominated by politicians. Some V.E.C. members could go a full 5 year term without ever having an educational idea to contribute to the committee. They have a political agenda rather than an educational one. No wonder then, that when I sent in my letter of Retirement to the committee after 40 years productive service with them, that they didn’t even reply to my letter.
The most important people involved in the school have been the students and their parents. Generations of families have had long associations with the school. Families that I remember are the Byrnes, some from Naas, some from Caragh, Sheridans, Cullys Naas and Sallins, Dunnes, Campbells, Donnellys, Fahertys, Counihans, Steeles, Allens, Barrys,Sullivans, Powers, McDonalds, Delmers, Buggys, Walshes, Smullens, Hegartys, McGarrs, O Rourkes, Fennessys, Winders. Dollys, Behans, O Donnells,
NAAS CONNECTIONS WITH KILFENORA CEILI BAND
by donalcorcoran1 on March 25, 2010
Not many people know this, but there are strong connections between Naas and the Kilfenora Ceili band from Co. Clare. John Lynch and Pat Lynch, members of this band are former teachers of St Patrick’s Community College. There father before them was also a member of the band so that they are carrying on a family tradition. John is the Band Leader and the driving force behind the band which is now in existence for over a Century.
Recently, in recognition of the major impact that the Kilfenora Band has had on Traditional music in Ireland and abroad, and in recognition of the great work of the present leader, John Lynch has been awarded an Honorary Master’s Degree by the Univercity of Limerick. This is a great honour for the band, and for traditionalI Irish Music as well as for John Lynch.
Im sure that their many Naas friends, colleagues and former students would like to join with me in wishing them well for the future.