Sacred Heart Secondary School, Clonakilty

Mission Statement

We, the community of Sacred Heart Secondary School are committed to providing a supportive Christian environment; with a wide range of educational opportunities to allow each person achieve full potential.

To achieve this the school will:

  • Provide pastoral care for pupils on an individual and group basis.
  • Provide career guidance and counselling service.

Continue to nurture the spiritual growth of each person, to assist them in everyday living by:

  • The provision of religious education programmes
  • School Chaplaincy
  • Appropriate Liturgy
  • Spiritual retreats
  • Foster a mutually respecting and supportive relationship between Management, Principal, Teaching staff, Support staff, Administrative and Maintenance staff.
  • Encourage respect for the individual, the community and the environment.
  • Offer a wide range of subjects with adequate supporting facilities.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to study at their own level, paying special attention to individual needs.
  • Encourage students to participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.
  • Foster links with the parents, particularly through parent / teacher meetings and a Parents’ Association.
  • Strive to provide a high standard of teaching and discipline, and facilitate teachers in updating their professional skills.

School History

Secondary Education was introduced in Clonakilty in 1908 when students in the Primary School were enrolled to take Secondary Board examinations. This continued until 1941 when Sacred Heart Secondary School was registered as a secondary school with a student enrolment of 41 students.

The school uniform consisted of black frock, white collar and cuffs. This was later replaced by a navy gym slip and white blouse with a red jumper. In 1960 this gave way to the now familiar bottle green which has changed from a gym slip to a skirt and since 2000 with the option of black trousers, except for formal occasions.

The secondary school of 1941 was housed in the ground floor rooms to the back of the convent building which had been built as a primary school in 1856. Owing to lack of space, the first year class continued in the primary school until the following year. Enrolment remained static until the early 1950’s, when extra accommodation had to be sought and the present study was acquired from the Orphanage.

In 1957 three additional classrooms were taken over to cater for the growing numbers. A year earlier, the boarding school was opened, also using what was formerly orphanage accommodation. Boarders numbered thirty four in 1957/58, according to the Annals, adding that an increase of ten was expected the following year. From then on it was a struggle to find space for the quickly growing intake and an expanding curriculum. Science, with its corresponding laboratory was introduced in 1964. Further dormitory and classroom space became available with the closing of the orphanage in 1967. The opening of a newly built primary school in the same year left more badly needed classrooms available to the secondary school.

Sr Brendan Scully was appointed Principal in 1948 and held that post until Sr Benedicta Barry was appointed in 1959. She held the post until her retirement in 1983. Her replacement Sr Eilis Mc Grath continues as Principal, except from September 2004 until February 2005 when Mrs Mary Wycherley filled the post, due to Sr Eilis being on sick leave. In the early years, the secondary school was staffed entirely by sisters.

This has changed over the years until there is now only one sister on staff. Curriculum has expanded over the years. The introduction of Music as a school subject in 1973 brought with it the annual musical production which replaced the Shakespearean plays. Prior to that music was confined to weekly choral singing and to piano teaching which was available after school, a facility which continues to the present day. In the early days the ‘cookery kitchen’ was in a very old building. This was replaced in 1964 by what remains to the present time.

Refurbishment and expansion took place in the early 1980’s and a new school was finally opened in 1982. This extra space gave the opportunity to develop a Prayer Room and a Religion Room. Later on the coal shed was converted into a Pottery Room and the laundry was converted into a Technology Room, when this subject was introduced in 1990. As we were one of the original schools involved in the technology pilot project we are lucky again to be one of the first cohorts to be introducing the Leaving Certificate Technology programme in September 2007.

Physical Education was unknown in the early years but Miss Attridge came every week to teach dancing and drill. This ended in the late 1960’s. Sport has developed over the years from the small beginnings in two tennis courts which doubled as netball courts until 1972. At that stage basketball and volleyball were introduced and the school began competing in school leagues. The volleyball grew in strength and a team represented Ireland at the World Championships in 1980. P.E. was added to the curriculum in 1981 when the first P.E. teacher was appointed.

This coincided with the building of a sports hall, which was financed by the local community. In more recent times the outdoor facilities were developed and a company set up to manage this area. The Clonakilty Community Sports Association has the responsibility for the all weather pitch and all weather tennis courts. The school has the use of the facilities during the school day. The addition of hockey and camogie to the sports list has given new opportunities to the student. In the past two years the students have excelled in ladies football.

Whole School Planning has been a feature of Sacred Heart since the late 1980’s when external facilitators from Ireland and the U.K. have worked with the staff in developing it into a modern proactive community. This development was recognised by the Department of Education when the school was chosen in 1998 to be one of the first schools to pilot the Whole School Evaluation process. Since then the development of policies has continued. New programmes have been introduced over the years.

The school was one of the first to take up the offer of Transition Year when the programme became available in 1984. In the early years admission to this programme was by interview, but now all students participate. Another development which was very valuable at the same time was the Vocational and Training Preparation Programme (VPTP) with the Senior Cert examination. This was phased out at national level on the introduction of the Leaving Cert Applied Programme. This school took up this programme in 1997. It has been a wonderful success for the students who have followed the programme. The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme was undertaken in 1994. This is a valuable extra for many students. In 1996 it was decided to facilitate students who wished to repeat the Leaving Certificate. A special Repeat Leaving Certificate Class was introduced, including boys. This was ended in 2002 when the demand for 3rd level places changed.

Back to Education Initiative was introduced to allow adult students second chance in education. This has proven to be a significant milestone in enabling many to return to work but has also provided a social outlet for many women who work in the home. It now offers a qualification at FETC level 5 in Childcare.

IT has developed to a very high standard in the school and over the years students have participated in competitions at national level. The most adventurous was the S.I.P. project in 2000. This was an integrated project and the topic chosen was ‘You are what you eat’. A very interesting project was completed and presented at a public forum.

Originally the school was under unitary management. This was one of the local religious community. In 1995 a Board of Management was appointed. This has been a very energising and significant development for the school. The Parents have become actively involved in the school with the setting up of a Parent’s Association in 1984. The aim was to provide a support for the parents who in turn support the school and become involved in many activities and help with functions. The Student Council was established in 1998. They are elected by the student body and represent all years.







Ms. Ann Marie Brosnan

Deputy Principal:
Mr. Brendan Walsh