Scoil Chríost Rí past pupils bid farewell to their school

Many generations of Scoil Chríost Rí students returned to their Alma Mater on Friday evening, which obviously holds fond memories for the generations of secondary students who studied there over four decades.

It was their last chance to view nostalgic photographs and to meander through the corridors and classrooms of the school which closes at the end of this term. In September, Scoil Chríost Rí will re-open in a brand new structure at Borris Road.

Pictured on left at the reunion are (LtoR) Maire Croke, Sister Columba, Sister Maureen, Principle Helen O'Donnell, Sister Breda, Sister Maire-Therese Sweeney and Sister Evelyn Byrne.


Relocation was a major undertaking, noted Acting Deputy Principal Ann Dollard. School caretaker Joe Donlon had found stuff under the stairs "going back years," she revealed. By the way, Ann herself is a past pupil of the school. Maiden name O'Reilly, she was, believe it or not, reared in the prison. Her father was the Governor.










Pictured above are Colette Lalor, Shiela Finnegan, Anne Dollard, Stephanie Hennessy and Mary Tierney who attended the Scoil Chríost Rí re-union dance in Portlaoise.

Parents' Council members Mary Burke, Deirdre Fennell and Yvonne O'Reilly organized the reunion. Mary Delaney also greeted guests. From the school the past pupils went to the nearby SS Peter and Paul's Church for Mass and then to the Heritage Hotel for refreshments and more chat.

Bantile, a Banagher, Co Offaly, firm, built Scoil Chríost Rí in a section of the convent gardens. It opened on September 15, 1968, not long after the introduction of "free" secondary education. The brains behind the project was the far-seeing Mother Columba - she'll always be "Mother" to people of a certain age. Happily, she is still with us.

She, it was, who introduced girls' second-level education to Portlaoise in what was known as a "Secondary Tops" school. Past-pupils of that school, Mary Carmody and Ann Scully, were at the reunion.

Mary, from Mountmellick Road, sat her Leaving Cert in 1962. Her uncles, the renowned Lalors the wheelwrights, lived at Bridge Street.

Ann, also a member of an old stock local family, completed her Leaving in 1966. She was, so to speak, under the eyes of the nuns. She was reared at Church Avenue, just across the road from the Presentation convent and schools. After an absence of 35 years she has returned to live in Portlaoise.

The convent, alas, is now sightless, abandoned and a prey to vandals. The Presentations Sisters began their work in Portlaoise, then Maryborough, in 1824.

Sr Marie Therese King was the last nun to serve as Principal of Scoil Chríost Rí. Her successor is the current holder of the post, Helen O'Donnell. The first lay Principal of the school was Ann Young. Valerie Turley also filled the position for a period. All were invited to the reunion.

(Courtesy of Leinster Express 12th May, 2010).