Minister for Education Norma Foley visited MIC St Patrick’s College in Thurles, and the four second level schools of the town in a whistle stop tour on Friday, and expressed her delight at what she witnessed in the Cathedral Town.
Though the rain fell throughout most of her visit and meant that many of the schools plans had to be altered, Minister Foley brought much joy and happiness during her visit, as she showered the four schools and the third level college with much praise and admiration for the work being undertaken.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit the four schools in Thurles who deliver excellent educational opportunities to the students every day. This was an opportunity for me to acknowledge all that has been achieved in the last two years and to salute the generous manner in which education has been re-imagined over the last two years,” Minister Foley said.
Accompanied by her Fianna Fáil colleague, Deputy Jackie Cahill, and Independent TD, Deputy Michael Lowry, Minister Foley made light of the time constraints and the hectic schedule as she made time for everybody. She was delighted to stand for photographs with the likes of the very successful Junk Couture group from the Ursuline Secondary School which had just the previous evening achieved tremendous success; or the Presentation sports groups which have enjoyed unparalleled success this school year. She even met with the grand daughter twins of legendary Kerry football Manager Mick O’ Dwyer and was delighted to link up with fellow Kingdom people.
Minister Foley has made major announcements for a number of schools in Tipperary in recent times including the Ursuline Secondary School and the Presentation Secondary Schools which are to have major extensions constructed in the coming months. And, the investment is in part recognition of the wonderful ambition of the schools involved, Minister Foley said.
“There are four fantastic schools here in Thurles offering rich opportunities to our young people and students in a variety of fields and doing so with great ambition - I think that is very important in education. I can see from the schools that I visit that the ambition they have for their students is limitless and that’s exactly what we want for our students. We want to provide maximum opportunities; we want our schools to be happy and inclusive for our young people; and places where every possible ambition can be realised. It is tremendous to see all of that here in Thurles,” she said.
She added that the investment is testament to the growing needs of the schools but is also an accolade to all that is being done every day in these centres.
“I go back to ambition again and the ambition which schools have to go further and go beyond. The resources which the department and I as Minister for Education are providing, is just testament to the great work which goes on. We will continue to support and invest in education throughout the country. Education is the great leveller and when children get opportunities through education it increases so much their possibilities beyond the education sector itself,” she said.
Deputy Jackie Cahill told the Tipperary Star: “I am delighted that the Education Minister, Norma Foley accepted my invitation to visit Thurles last Friday. Since taking up office in July 2020, Minister Foley has invested tens of millions into education in this county. At primary and secondary level, we are seeing massive, large-scale investment in buildings and educational infrastructure right across Tipperary.
“In Thurles alone, both the Presentation Secondary School and the Ursuline Convent Secondary School have received approval from Minister Foley for major building works for both schools, and during our visits on Friday, it was clear that this will make a remarkable difference to secondary education in Thurles.
Deputy Cahill continued to say: “As a former CBS pupil myself, I was honoured to bring Minister Foley to the secondary school, to meet with the school community, and discuss local issues of importance to the school. Similarly, in Coláiste Mhuire, the Minister engaged with school management and Tipperary ETB in relation to existing infrastructure and the incredible expansion of enrolment numbers in recent years under school principal, Denis Quinn’s leadership.”
Finally, in relation to the commencement of a Home Economics teacher training course in Mary Immaculate College, St Patrick’s Campus, the Thurles man said: “Minister Foley is the third minister in this Government who has accepted my personal invitation to the campus and to talks on the expansion of the course there. Both Ministers Simon Harris and Niall Collins have previously met with senior management and Tipperary ETB there, and I am very pleased with how this project is progressing. We would be confident of the delivery of this course from September 2023 for incoming students.
“Thurles is an academic town. From early education right up to tertiary level, very few rural towns can rival the academic options available on our doorstep. I will continue to work with Minister Foley to deliver for the area in education and I am very grateful for her time spent in Thurles”, Cahill concluded.
Pres' girl Minister Foley had a special word for the devotee of Nano Nagle
Minister Foley was in her element in the Presentation Secondary School in Thurles.
A former Presentation primary and secondary school pupil, Minister Foley followed in the footsteps of another Minister for Education - Thurles lady Mary Hanafin - by following the teaching vocation and finding herself back in the Presentation again, before reaching high office.
Indeed, Minister Foley mentioned Thurles Presentation past pupil Mary Hanafin during her visit and told the students in the school that they too should dream big, aim for the stars and aspire to be the best they can be when their formative days of education are completed.
Minister Foley has sanctioned a new extension and Special Education Needs suite in recent times and she was congratulated and thanked by Principal Trish O’Callaghan for her support and that of the department during a very difficult two year period of Covid.
She had entered the school to a Guard of Honour and witnessed the orchestra playing traditional music and the Pres Singers performing Tell Me It’s Not True from the hit show Blood Brothers. Well, it was true - Minister Foley was in the school and she managed to sprinkle much magic as she met with various groups including a very special chat with students in the Dún Chaoin unit where she was a huge hit.
The Minister’s warmth and ease with the students was very evident and she was lavish in her praise for the work of the students, the staff, the parents, Board of Management and everyone associated with the school. “The department provides the resources but on the ground it is the goodwill of all those people pulling together which ensures that the school goes on,” she said.
Having spoken of her own time as Pres’ girl, and of the values instilled in her during her education in Kerry, Minister Foley encouraged the students to continue to be proud to carry the light of Nano Nagle with such distinction.
“Walk tall because you have the crest of the Pres’ on your uniform and always remember that once a Pres’ girl, always a Pres’ girl. You can come back any time after you have left school and the door will always be open to you,” she said.
Minister Foley very taken with MIC St Patrick's College
The Minister for Education, Norma Foley visited MIC St Patrick’s College as part of her whistle stop tour of Thurles on Friday and she confessed to the Tipperary Star of being in awe of the magnificent building and the sense of history associated with the former seminary.
The college authorities have made no secret of their desire to expand the current curriculum in the college with a very firm drive on to establish a Home Economics teaching course in the facility which has substantially increased its student population in recent years.
The Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harris, TD has already visited the facility on a number of occasions and has taken on board the college proposal to establish the new education module as part of its curriculum. And, while Minister Foley does not have a direct brief in relation to the college, she was, nonetheless, anxious to pay a visit to witness first hand what the Thurles facility has to offer.
“This is an example of excellence in education and delivery of education,” she told us after her meeting with the college authorities which also included a tour of the building including the historic library, with which she was very taken.
“ I had a very good and progressive meeting there and I had an opportunity to hear of their ambition for the future. I was very happy to hear that and I engaged with the management and learned of their plans for the future. I will take that away with me now and we’ll see where it will go,” Minister Foley said.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.