Stillorgan College is 50!
Over 100 guests - from staff members, past and present, former students who have excelled in their chosen vocations and local councillors and politicians attended the event which also showcased some of the work done by the students in the Art, Animation, Multimedia, Media and Photography departments over the years.
The guests were wined and dined by the students from the Event Management and Travel and Tourism classes who did much of the organisational work for the event.
On the night Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White, launched a commemorative booklet charting the history of the college, from the day it opened its doors as a junior vocational school in September 1965, through to its evolution as an exclusive provider of post Leaving Certificate courses after its last intake of second level students in 1985.
Tribute was also paid to the work of all the Principals who have developed the College by Mr Paddy Lavelle, CEO of the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board. “It is a little nugget in the heart of the community. And not just this community, but the wider community also.”
In welcoming the guests, which also included TD Peter Mathews and Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown councillors Pat Hand (Chair, Board of Management Stillorgan College), Sorcha Nic Cormaic & Catherine Martin (Board of Management Stillorgan College), Deirdre Donnelly and Gerry Horkan, Stillorgan College’s Principal, Kevin Harrington, outlined the development as a junior school designed to offer education to Group and Intermediate Certificate level.
When it opened its doors for the first time on September 6th, 1965 the first intake had 60 students – 48 boys (in two classes) and one class of 12 girls.
Mr Harrington explained that the building had effectively been designed with gender segregation in mind. “The boys’ class rooms were down one end, the girls down the other, with the Principal’s office in between to keep them apart!”
Mr Harrington highlighted the remarkable career trajectory of one of the boys who had been among the school’s first intake.
The boy had been born in Newbridge but moved to Blackrock and had attended Oatlands primary school before enrolling in Stillorgan in September 1965. His academic career would only last six months, for greatness awaited elsewhere. His last day at the school was March 18, 1966 – his 14th birthday. On the same day he was signed up as an apprentice jockey at the stables of trainer Seamus McGrath, near Leopardstown. The boy’s name was Pat Eddery - he would become one of the greatest flat jockeys in racing history.
But this, as Mr Harrington noted, was an ultimately poignant tale, because Pat Eddery had died just 10 days before the College’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The evening had added poignancy when a moment’s silence was observed in remembrance of Mary Elliott, the College’s widely admired former Chair of the Board of Management – who passed away just five days before the event.
The evening to celebrate 50 years of Excellence in Education was a resounding success and bodes well for the next 50 years