The national expansion of second level pupil numbers in the 1970s put pressure on available resources of school accommodation and teaching power. Department of Education officials, notably Sean O’Connor, espoused the idea of a Community School as a response to this challenge. These schools would provide both academic and practical instruction and would be open to all the young people of the area. They would also have a commitment to adult and community education as well as making their facilities available to the local community for sporting and cultural activities.
Lack of facilities, especially in the Patrician and Vocational schools, caused Department officials to propose Tullow as a venue for amalgamation. Meetings were held of managerial authorities, parents and teaching staffs. Eventually agreement was reached to establish a community school in Tullow. A board of management was established for Tullow Community School. This Board came to consist of nominees of Religious trustees, V.E.C. trustees, parents and teaching staffs. The concept of partnership in education was put on a firm footing in the new school. The mandate of the school is “to provide a comprehensive system of post-primary education open to all the children of the community, combining instruction in academic and practical subjects and ongoing education for persons living at or near Tullow and generally for the purpose of contributing towards the spiritual, moral, mental, and physical well-being and development of the said community.”
Tullow Community School opened in 1978. The first Principal was the late Mr. C. H. Finlayson, formerly Headmaster of Tullow Vocational School and the first Vice-Principal was Sr. Margaret Creagh who had previously served as Deputy Head of a large Liverpool comprehensive school. Sr. Margaret was succeeded in 1988 by Ms. Anne Keating, present Principal of Presentation De La Salle College Bagenalstown. She in turn was succeeded by Mr. Timothy Moriarty in 1995. The present writer became Principal in 1989.
The new school, as yet untried, was greeted with a degree of apprehension. In a short time it proved itself successful on the academic, extra-curricular and pastoral front. Adult Education in the main school and Further Education in the St. Anne’s College flourished. After twenty six years past pupils of the school have distinguished themselves locally, nationally and internationally. A wide curriculum and targeted educational assistance have meant that the school has been able to respond to needs of the students of the local area. In 1993/94 it was one of the first schools in the country to embark on formal school development planning. The core of the plan was the school’s mission statement which is “…to nurture the wellbeing of all so that they may grow in knowledge, conscience and compassion.”