Cape Clear primary school reopens with six pupils

Island’s 150-year-old national school still searching for second teacher

 Cape Clear, off west Cork. Photograph: Tony Doherty

Cape Clear, off west Cork. Photograph: Tony Doherty

 

A 150-year-old primary school on an island off west Cork re-opens on Thursday with six pupils and a temporary school principal, as the search continues for a second teacher.

Over the summer, people living on Cape Clear sent out a nationwide appeal seeking staff for the Irish-speaking Scoil Náisiúnta Inis Chléire.

There were fears that it could prove difficult to fill the two positions of school principal and teacher at the island school, as recruiting staff to primary schools on offshore islands is a recurring problem.

“There is a very clear protocol to follow in this matter,” said chairman of the school board of management, Neil Ó Ríogáin. “We currently have a temporary acting principal in place. We are advertising for a second teacher on educationposts.ie.”

“The correct procedure must be followed in terms of interviewing applicants, and this takes time,” he said.

For many years since the 1970s and 1980s, the Cape Clear school had two teachers who had settled and lived on the island.

Since their retirement several years ago, a number of teachers had worked at the four-room school, which is located beside the island’s picturesque South Harbour.

“As of this summer, we had two vacancies to fill, and we are in the process of filling those vacancies,” Ó Ríogáin explained.

He confirmed that for this new school term, just six pupils would be attending classes at the school.

“Numbers have dropped because of pupils moving to second-level schools on the mainland,” Mr Ó Ríogáin said. “Although there are children on the island, they are not yet of primary school-going age.”

Cape Clear boasts a shop, pubs, restaurants, a library, and a bus service which runs under the rural transport scheme.

The island has a vibrant community with many social activities throughout the year and also offers many opportunities for outdoor life close to nature. Birdwatching and whalewatching are popular pursuits along with other activities such as kayaking, walking, traditional music, art and storytelling.