I come from a beautiful village in Tipperary called Silvermines. The village nestles at the base of the Silvermines mountains and is worth a trip for the scenery.
As with many such villages the school is a very important part of village life. Over the past few years there has been talk of the building of a new school – the topic would come up every now and then but it didn’t seem to be progressing. Then last year, my niece, who goes to the school, came home and said that the new school was going ahead. The old school was to be knocked and a new school was to be built in its place. While it was great to see the green light for the new school, I must admit I had a lump in my throat as the reality of the old school being knocked began to hit home. As far as I can gather, the old school was around 125 years old. Generations of children in my family have gone to that school – my grandmother, my father, me, my nieces and nephews. Now it would be no more.
When we were younger a lot of our play happened around the school which was only over the road from where I lived. We made cubbies in the wood and played on the ‘height’ behind the school. To young eyes the woods seemed to have lots of trees (in reality there were only a few) and the ‘height’ seemed to tower above us (in reality it was a low sized pile of earth that was probably a leftover from the digging of a nearby mineshaft). Then of course there was the school itself – for me my schooldays in Silvermines were mostly happy ones. Seeing the school on my trips home over the years, often triggered memories of school such as: playing rounders with my friends and often being on the losing team (sports were never my thing!) , getting caught going up to the castle (really a mining engine house) in junior or senior infants and facing the wrath of the Master (which was a terrifying prospect for a child of any age!) , walking up the hill to the viewing point on beautiful sunny days (our school tours back in those days :-)).
When the school was finally knocked it seemed strange to see the void where the school used to be. Then the new school started to take shape and it looked great. It is a beautiful building that already seems to fit into the landscape. It seems to make the most of the beautiful setting that it finds itself in, in a way that the old school never did.
Last Friday we got a look inside the school as it was the day that the teachers and children got into their lovely new school. The classrooms are spacious, bright and airy with some of the most beautiful scenery outside the window. There’s even an outside classroom so here’s hoping for some nice weather 🙂 In chatting to people on our wander through the classes, people were reminiscing about their days in the old school as they marvelled at the new school. So even though the old school is gone the memories remain.