Scoil Mhuire, affectionately known as ‘the new school’, welcomed its first pupils in September 1983. A local fundraising group, led by Fr Pat Cummins and Seamus Mooney, raised £100,000 to buy the site on Coolcotts Lane on which the school was built. The first Principal was Tim Galvin, a Kerry native. Tim was joined by Pat Goff, Irene Lawlor, Miriam Furlong, Brigid Scully, Mary Cogley, Eleanor Smith and Mary Culleton, and almost 250 pupils!
While the Principal and staff were conscious of establishing and maintaining the school’s Catholic ethos from the outset, Scoil Mhuire was the only primary school in Wexford town at that time, that had not been founded by a religious order. As such, Scoil Mhuire was progressive from the outset in welcoming pupils and families of all religious faiths and none. From the beginning, parents and families became very involved in school life, establishing a positive community spirit which has prevailed right through to today. A sense of ‘anything is possible’ was evident as pupils, parents and staff set out on their learning journey together. A vibrant and energetic Parents Association was established, paving the way for parental involvement in school life across a wide range of fronts.
By the turn of the decade, there were 500 pupils in what had very quickly become a busy, bustling area, as new housing estates were built all around Coolcotts. Staff numbers increased pro rata, one notable recruit being Eoin Colfer, who went on to become a world famous author and Ireland’s Children’s Laureate. During the 1990s Scoil Mhuire firmly cemented its reputation as a progressive, dynamic, nurturing and welcoming school with pupil wellbeing at its core.
Following Tim Galvin’s retirement in 1997, Pat Goff was appointed as Principal, with Brigid Scully as Deputy Principal. It was a baptism of fire for the new senior leadership team, as in November of that year one entire wing of the school was destroyed by fire. In true Scoil Mhuire spirit however, the community came together to help. Remarkably, only one school day was lost during the upheaval and the damaged classrooms were quickly repaired.
Around this time also, Scoil Mhuire was granted Disadvantage Status, which was transformative for the school. The school was now being properly resourced to deliver a first class curriculum for its pupils and in particular, children of families from less advantaged backgrounds. This development brought with it the new position of Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Coordinator, with Mary Culleton being the first teacher to fulfil this role.
In 2008, a major extension to the school was officially opened by then Minister for Education, Batt O’Keeffe, TD. Along with new classrooms and support teaching rooms, the extension housed three new rooms, now known as Rainbow, in which pupils on the autism spectrum are educated. It also contained a state of the art OT Room and Sensory Room. The Rainbow Garden, a dedicated outdoor sensory space, was also developed.
In 2009, the then Principal, Pat Goff, was appointed as President of the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN). Upon his return to Scoil Mhuire in 2011, the Irish produced documentary Primary Pressures was filmed in Scoil Mhuire. Aired on RTE television, it recounted daily life in our school through the eyes of pupils, teachers and parents. Scoil Mhuire’s renowned School Band was also established in the same year.
Following Pat’s retirement in 2015, Mags Jordan was appointed as Principal. Mags, a former teacher in the Scoil Mhuire from 1986 to 1997, quickly settled into her new role. In 2017, Scoil Mhuire’s innovative Nurture Room was established and a walking track for pupils was constructed on the pitch area to promote daily physical activity.
In October 2017, Storm Ophelia struck, resulting in major damage to the school’s roof. This was followed in March 2018 by the Beast from the East, a severe snow storm which closed schools around the country for a number of days. However, in true Scoil Mhuire community style, there was lots of immediate help at hand from parents, families and staff alike to clear walkways and to get Scoil Mhuire ready for reopening.
Then, in early 2020, Covid-19 arrived in Ireland, resulting in all school buildings being closed from Friday 13 March to the end of June of that year, and again for a second lengthy period in January 2021. On both occasions, Scoil Mhuire very quickly, and seamlessly, switched to online provision of learning for its large cohort of pupils. The creativity and adaptability of staff, pupils and families shone through during this challenging time.
During the first Covid-19 closure, Mags and the Board of Management took the opportunity to have the entire school interior redecorated and upgraded with the renaming of school corridors in honour of Ireland’s chieftain trees to Oak, Hazel, Holly, Wild Apple, Ash, Scots Pine and Yew.
With the phased reopening of schools on two separate occasions, Scoil Mhuire was delighted to welcome back its pupils and staff. While Covid-19 created many challenges for school life over an extended period, our wonderful school community proved to be resourceful and resilient yet again. During that time, we took the opportunity to record some Scoil Mhuire voices about their experiences and feelings of living through a worldwide pandemic. You can access our Covid Journey & Experience here.
In September 2021, our magnificent new school library opened its doors to our pupils and was officially opened by our former teacher and world renowned author, Eoin Colfer, in September 2022.
The library is a tremendous and much loved addition to our school, and a facility that engenders a love of reading in our pupils, catering for their many and varied reading interests, and the many languages of our school community.
In January 2022, Scoil Mhuire was pleased to welcome Sunny Days Afterschool to provide a high quality and affordable afterschool and early morning service for Scoil Mhuire families. 2022/23 also saw major upgrades being made to our school’s digital technology facilities, with the support of both Government and European funding. The encouragement of our pupils has digital learners has been enhanced greatly by a substantial increase in the availability and daily use of digital devices, such as chromebooks, iPads and interactive whiteboards. The installation of new wifi system has ensured that a high quality broadband connection is consistently available throughout our large school building.
Scoil Mhuire’s next major development goal is the building of an All Weather Pitch & Playground to mark our 40th birthday in 2023/24! A huge programme of fundraising events is underway with tremendous support from our families and the wider community. The realisation of our All Weather Pitch & Playground will have a hugely positive impact for our pupils’ health and wellbeing, and enjoyment of life at school. This development will also serve as an important resource for our local community.
Over the past 40 years, Scoil Mhuire has grown and evolved from being a smaller local school serving the immediate area of Coolcotts to being a larger, dynamic, multicultural school. While over 600 pupils now attend the school, with a staff team of almost ninety, our school’s founding values of welcome, care, inclusion, nurture and learning in all its facets continue to shine brightly today.
Scoil Mhuire, Coolcotts is not just a school; it’s a vibrant, progressive and innovative community of children, families, staff and wider community who continue to grow together.
Ní neart go cur le chéile.