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St Brigid's Primary School, Mountfield



St. Oliver's opened in September 1982 with seven staff members and 115 children from Junior Infants to First Class. On the day the school construction and furnishing were far from being completed. As the first students arrived, the principal, Mr. Seán Nyan was joined by the school manager Fr. Brendan Crowley and six teachers'. They welcomed,not alone all the registered children, but an extra 30 children who appeared on the morning.

A member of the original teaching staff recalls the first day.

It was the first day of school and the teachers knew how the children were feeling - nervous, excited and apprehensive, all at once. As this was the very first day that St. Oliver's had opened its doors, the teachers were feeling exactly the same. One of the teachers, Teresa McDermott had brought in a poster which summed things up nicely. It read "Now that we're organised, what do we do?" When, Principal Sean Nyhan pinned it up on the bare staff room walls it lightened the atmosphere, initiating the team feeling which would become such a hallmark of those early days. Unpainted walls prevailed throughout the school, along with dusty, uncarpeted floors and many door-less rooms. The builders were still on the premises to complete those jobs and would be part of normal school life until just before Christmas. Despite the basic conditions, things did indeed become organised quickly. Parents who had made a great effort to turn the children out spick and span in their brand new uniforms, gathered in the hall awaiting the allocation of classes and teachers. Amidst the general air of expectancy, Sean Nyhan harnessed the goodwill with some words of welcome, before matching up pupils and teachers. There would be five classes in all - two single junior infant classes, a combined junior and senior infant class, a senior infant class and a single first class. As more children had turned up than had been enrolled , the following day would bring a further separation of the combined junior and senior infant class into single classes. Without further ado these fledgling pupils were escorted to their rooms.

The Department of Education had supplied the building but no teaching materials. The teachers, a mixture of newly qualified and experienced had been beavering away before the opening, buying cubes, counters, jigsaws, crayons, alphabet friezes etc. so that the setting would be as attractive and normal as possible.

Just when things were settling down with parents gone, Mr. Bart Daly arrived. His mission was to take pictures for "The Nationalist". All of the children were lined up in front of the school. This proved too much for some of the Junior Infants who seized the chance to make a dash for home with greater zeal than E.T. Their teachers showed unsuspected running skills when chasing after them. Upon the safe return of everyone to the classrooms, the rest of the morning passed quickly with the normal first day activities of schools everywhere. Small break lunches were eaten inside the building as it was deemed too soon to encourage any further trips outside. There was no big break as school finished early.

The uniforms were less spick and span going home, due to the circumstances and parents were very tolerant. The teachers would subsequently acquire a new daily duty - using clothes brushes at home time ( but that was for future days).

As the children departed with tales of the day , just like all first - timers, the staff breathed a collective sigh of relief. They had got through the day and returned their pupils to their rightful parents. They were organised and they knew what to do.