Secondary Education was introduced in Clonakilty in 1908 when students in the Primary School were enrolled to take secondary Board examinations. This continued until 1941 when, following a suggestion from the Bishop the Most Reverend Denis Moynihan, Sacred Heart Secondary School was registered as a secondary school with a student enrolment of 41 students...
...Sr Columba Myott was the Principal. Miss Purcell taught History and Geography through Irish, but also taught French and Mathematics. Sr Columba taught Irish and Religion, while Srs Genevieve and Eugenius taught the remainder of the subjects.
Tuition fee was £6 per pupil, increasing gradually to £12 by the time so called free education was introduced in 1966. The school uniform consisted of black frock, white collar and cuffs. This was later replaced by a navy gym slip and white blouse with a red jumper. In 1960 this gave way to the now familiar bottle green which has changed from a gym slip to a skirt and since 2000 with an option of black trousers, except for formal occasions.
The secondary school of 1941 was housed in the ground floor rooms to the back of the convent building which had been built as a primary school in 1856. Owing to lack of space, the first year class continued in the primary school until the following year. Enrolment remained static until the early 1950's, when extra accommodation had to be sought and the present study was acquired from the orphanage. The curriculum was also extended to include Domestic Science and Physiology.
Numbers in the Orphanage continued to decline in the 1950's, due perhaps to the opening of St. Ann's Adoption Society and the granting of Children's allowance. In 1957 three additional classrooms were taken over to cater for the growing numbers. A year earlier, the boarding school was opened, also using what was formerly orphanage accommodation. Boarders numbered thirty four in 1957/58, according to the Annals, adding that an increase of ten was expected the following year. From then on it was a struggle to find space for a quickly growing intake and an expanding curriculum .The boarding school had an international status with the majority of students coming from Ireland and Europe. Although the Boarding School closed in 2005, while in operation numbers reached well in excess of 600. Following its closure in 2005 the student population reduced to 438.However, numbers have begun to increase significantly since and for the school year 2012/2013, the student population will be in excess of 500. The closure of the Boarding School left a huge emotional impact on the community of Sacred Heart and Clonakilty. However, fond memories of Boarding School days remain.
Science, with its corresponding laboratory was introduced in 1964. Further dormitory and classroom space became available with the closing of the orphanage in 1967. The opening of a newly built primary school in the same year left more badly needed classrooms available to the secondary school.
Sr Brendan Scully was appointed Principal in 1948 and held that post until Sr Benedicta Barry was appointed in 1959. She held the post until her retirement in 1983. Her replacement Sr Eilis Mc Grath continued as Principal, except from September 2004 until February 2005 when Mrs. Mary Wycherley filled the post, due to Sr Eilis being on sick leave. This, however, has changed over the years. Mrs. Mary Wycherley retired as Vice-Principal in 2008 having given a lifetime of dedicated service to both students and colleagues. Sr Eilis McGrath served as Principal from 1986-2009 during which time she proved herself to be forward thinking and innovative while at the same time caring for the needs of all her students and staff. The present and first lay principal is Ms Ann-Marie Brosnan. The Deputy-Principal is Mr. Brendan Walsh.
Curriculum expanded over the years. Although music was not introduced as a formal school subject until 1973, music has always been a fundamental part of life in Sacred Heart. The Sisters of Mercy encouraged students to appreciate music and drama. Two of the sisters, Sr Lelia Beechinor and Sister Francis provided music lessons for students before, during and after school. There were five dedicated music rooms where students were taught instruments including piano, flute, recorder, guitar and violin as well as music theory. Students undertook instrumental and theory examinations yearly with the Royal Irish Academy of Music. The introduction of Music as a school subject brought with it the annual musical production which replaced the Shakespearean plays. The first musical staged by Sacred Heart was "Smike" in 1979 directed by Mrs. Eileen Nolan and musically directed by Mrs. Eileen Murphy. Mrs. Nolan, Mrs. Murphy along with the musical direction of Ms Pauline Cullinane (R.I.P.) continued to stage a school musical annually. This tradition has been carried on by Ms. Denise Hayes and Ms. Una Whyte. Sacred Heart presently has a school choir, a traditional Irish group and continues to participate in Feis Maitiu.
In the early days the 'cookery kitchen' was in a very old building. This was replaced in 1964 by what remains to the present time. The rooms underwent a refurbishment in 1990 and it is hoped to relocate the kitchens in September 2012.
Refurbishment and expansion took place in the early 1980's and a new school was finally opened in 1982. This extra space gave the opportunity to develop a Prayer Room and a Religion Room. Later on, the coal shed was converted into a Pottery Room and the laundry was converted into a Technology Room, when this subject was introduced in 1990. As we were one of the original schools involved in the pilot project we were lucky again to be one of the first cohorts to be introducing the Leaving Certificate Technology programme in September 2007.
With the closing of the Boarding School in 2005 the Computer Room, Art Room and Music Room had to be relocated to temporary accommodation. In 2010, due to inclement weather, the pipes burst in the attic of the old Boarding School, causing extensive damage. As a result there was a complete refurbishment of the Refectory and the Science Labs. The Prayer Room was also extended at that time.
Physical Education was unknown in the early years but Miss Attridge came every week to teach dancing and drill. This ended in the late 1960's. Sport has developed over the years from the small beginnings in two tennis courts which doubled as netball courts until 1972. At that stage basketball and volleyball were introduced and the school began competing in school leagues. The volleyball grew in strength and a team represented Ireland at the World Championships in 1980. P.E. was added to the curriculum in 1981 when the first P.E. teacher was appointed. This coincided with the building of a sports hall, which was financed by the local community. In more recent times the outdoor facilities were developed and a company set up to manage. The Clonakilty Community Sports Association has the responsibility for the all weather pitch and all weather tennis courts. The school has the use of the facilities during the school day. The addition of hockey, football and camogie to the sports list has given new opportunities. In the past two years the students have excelled in ladies football. The school continues to have great success in hockey, football and camogie winning County, Munster and All-Ireland Finals.
Sacred Heart Secondary School has, during the past ten years, developed a unique and intensely supportive education for all our students with special education needs. An Tearmann Feasa, our Resource Room, was formally opened in 2004 by the then Minister for Education, Mary Hanafin, who was most impressed by the quality and range of the work undertaken, and by the students themselves whose energy and enthusiasm was so apparent. Our team of teachers and Students Assistants provide for their students employing a more practical and yet creative approach to learning in both academic and life skills. Both Junior Certificate and Fetac Level courses are taught in An Tearmann Feasa, in smaller groups and in ways which are inspiring, inventive and memorable.
Whole School Planning has been a feature of Sacred Heart since the late 1980's when external facilitators from Ireland and the U.K. have worked with the staff in developing into a modern proactive community. This development was recognised by the Department of Education when the school was chosen in 1998 to be one of the first schools to pilot the Whole School Evaluation process. Since then the development of policies has continued. The school launched its first school plan in 2004 and was one of the first schools to publish same. Since piloting the W.S.E Sacred Heart has since undergone a full W.S.E. and received an excellent report which is available to read on the Department of Education and Science website. As a school we are constantly looking for new challenges and are always open to finding new ways to meet the needs of our students in an ever changing world.
New programmes have been introduced over the years. The school was one of the first to take up the offer of Transition Year when the programme became more available in 1984. In the early years it was by interview but now all students take the programme. Another development which was very valuable at the same time was the Vocational and Training Preparation Programme (VPTP) with the Senior Cert examination. This was phased out at national level on the introduction of the Leaving Cert Applied Programme. This school took up this programme in 1997. It has been a wonderful success for the students who have followed the programme. The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme was undertaken in 1994. This is a valuable extra for many students. In 1996 it was decided to facilitate students who wished to repeat the Leaving Certificate. A special Repeat Leaving Certificate Class was introduced, including boys. This was ended in 2002 when the demand for 3rd level places changed.
The original computer room was located in the old building in the room known as the Typing Room. The computers in use were Apple 2e, 512k ram machines. The Apple 2e were replaced by Apple Macintosh units in the late 1990's followed by their replacement with 24iMacs.Sacred Heart Secondary school entered the inaugural Spin a Web national competition in 1996.This competition was run by the Computer Department in Trinity College Dublin. One of our students, Ms Sarah Murphy, under the guidance of our computer teacher, Mr. Gerard O Sullivan, won that first competition. In 1997, the Typing Room amalgamated with what was then a Leaving Cert room to create two computer labs. In 2000 the first cable based network was installed in both computer rooms on foot of grant aid from the IT 2000 School Development Plan which was started in 1997.Further development came from Schools Integration Project (SIP) in the year 2000.Sacred Heart was one of twenty schools chosen from nationwide applicants on the basis of their Information Technology project proposals. The project ran for a period of eighteen months. Sixteen new windows based PC's were acquired by virtue of participating in SIP. New computer labs were commissioned in the new pre-fab complex in 2008 and the old computer rooms were decommissioned and stripped bare of all networking cable runs and fixtures in the old school location. Sacred Heart Secondary School Computer Department is an accredited ECDL test centre since 1999.New HP multi-seat (32 work stations running from 5 computers) computer facility was installed in one of the computer labs in the pre-fab buildings in the 2011/2012 school year. As a result of a 2010 Department grant along with Board of Management funding, ICT was introduced to all classrooms .This continues to be developed ensuring that Sacred Heart remains at the forefront of education in the 21st century
Back to Education Initiative was introduced to allow adult students second chance in education. This has proven to be a significant milestone in enabling many to return to work but has also provided a social outlet for many women who were trapped in the home. Two fully accredited FETAC Level 5 Courses are available: 1.Certificate in Community and Health Care and 2.Certiificate in Youth work and Social Studies. Each course can be taken over a one or two year period and is a standalone qualification which may lead to direct employment Each course can also be used to access furtherThird Level education such as Nursing, Social Science or Social Care. All courses are run during the school day, mostly mornings, between 9.30 am and 1.25. It is an ideal setting in which to make new friends and learn new skills.
Originally the school was under the trusteeship of the Sisters of Mercy since its foundation. Inspired by the vision of Catherine McAuley, Mercy education is committed to holistic development and to the achievement of the full potential of each student, particularly those who are disadvantaged or marginalized. Mercy education is committed to on-going whole-school development in collaboration and partnership with the Board of Management, staff parents and the wider community. In 1995 the first Board of Management was appointed. This has been a very energizing and significant development for the school. The Board continues to support in every way the development of the school. The school also acknowledges the support of members of the local community who have served on the Board over the years. Up to 2008 the Sisters of Mercy of the Southern Province remained the Trustees of Sacred Heart. In February 2008 the new Trust Body- CEIST-CATHOLIC EDUCATION, AN IRISH SCHOOLS TRUST took over as Trustees. The 21st century brought new challenges which require the creation of new structures to ensure that Catholic secondary education is a viable choice in pluralist Ireland. To this end the Daughters of Charity, the Presentation Sisters, the Sisters of the Christian Retreat, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have come together to form this organisation .The CEIST Charter defines the vision, values and framework by which the new Trust, its executives and schools will operate. It sets out the Ceist Vision and Mission Statements and indicates how the values of the Charter can be lived out by all involved in Ceist and its school communities. The Charter is committed to achieving quality in teaching and learning, showing respect for every person, creating community and being just and responsible.
The Parents became actively involved in the school with the setting up of a Parent's Association in 1984. The aim was to provide a support for the parents but they also support the school and become involved in many activities and help with functions. Sacred Heart continues to work in partnership with parents. Not only do the parents support the school in many different ways the school also continue to support the families in the local community, especially in times of difficulties.
The Student Council was established in 1998. Student Council is a key feature of our school many of the activities of the school and indeed much of the atmosphere of the school are determined here. The Student Council is a democratic structure with representatives from each year and allows pupils to become actively involved in the life of the school. The Council meets regularly and is intended to give students a meaningful voice in the life of the school.
They also raise a lot of money during the school year for various charities and school equipment. The Student Council members are always available to represent their colleagues at events outside the school as the need arises; sometimes on sad occasions when their presence is always dignified and seen as a tremendous support.
Sacred Heart Secondary School has seen many changes since its foundation-retirements of many dedicated staff members along with many physical changes. Sacred Heart continues to evolve in an ever-changing and challenging world. Sacred Heart has had much success in State examinations, and has won many national and international awards in many spheres, including Young Scientist, PISA scores, YSI, Mini Company, public speaking and debating amongst others. The number of students attaining entry into Third Level courses remains high-above the national average. Our students continue to be well ahead in the areas of numeracy and literacy. What remains central to our ethos is the uniqueness of our students who are treasured and valued at all times.