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Photography : Ken Wright Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

St Anthony's Fifty Years
By Ken Wright
13, Jan 2018 - 18:09

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Wonderful Celebrations at the 50th Anniversary of St. Anthony's School, Castlebar.

St. Anthony's Special School celebrated a momentous milestone when they reached their 50-year anniversary of the founding of the school in 1967. To mark this event a very special and moving mass was celebrated in the school hall by Archbishop Michael Neary who was assisted by Fr. Conal Eustace P.P. Castlebar and chaplain to the school as well as Fr. Paddy Gilligan P.P. Cong who served for many years on the Board of Management, and Fr. Fergal Cunnane P.P. Dunmore who also acted as Chaplain to the school in the past.

Students from St. Joseph’s Secondary School who provided welcoming music for guests as they arrived for the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

The attractive poster for St. Anthony’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

The warm welcoming atmosphere was set immediately as past pupils, staff, present parents, and special guests arrived to hear wonderful music being played in the Reception area of the school by students from St. Joseph's Secondary School. Guests were greeted with smiles and given a warm welcome from staff and all were given a beautiful commemorative booklet with articles written by the school's founders Johnny Mee and Tom Fallon as well as past Principals Michael Flanagan, Hilda Kavanagh, and current Principal Fiona Byrnes.

Pupil Emma McDonagh during the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography


As guests were escorted to the beautifully decorated Hall they passed by the historical Timeline of photos, articles, and records of names of all those who have attended or worked in the school from 1967 to 2017. Old Roll books were available for past pupils to read and maybe find their name from long ago. On arrival into the hall a large poster drew the eye to the celebration of the 50th Anniversary and declaring "From Future"

Pupils of St. Anthony’s School choir (junior section) . Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

Pupil David Niland during the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017

SNA Caroline Whelehan and pupil Emilija Ignotaite signing with ISL during the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017

The special mass was celebrated in a very meaningful and atmospheric way with fantastic singing by the wonderful pupils' choir, joyous music from music teacher Gill Cotter, SNA Caroline Cresham, SNA Mary Murray, pupils Tina Browne, Shakira Reilly, and Emma McDonagh, and illuminating sign language from SNA Caroline Whelehan with pupil Emilija Ignotaite. Past Principal Hilda Kavanagh did a reading while the very first Principal Michael Flanagan travelled from his home in Dublin to take part in the mass alongside Micheline, Geraldine and Meleesa Egan representing one of the Founders the late Michael Joe Egan. Current staff and pupils also played significant roles in the special mass with gifts for the offertory presented from Deputy Principal Anna Sweeney who brought the old school bell, from caretaker Michael Kelly who brought a lit Remembrance Candle to remember all those past pupils, staff, founders and friends who are deceased, from Mary Mee one of the first pupils of the school who brought the first Roll Book, to Cian Coughlan a current pupil who brought the new curriculum, as well as gifts brought by Michael Flanagan and Micheline Egan.

Fr. Fergal Cunnane looks on as Archbishop Michael Neary blesses special St. Anthony medals during the 50th Anniversary Mass at St. Anthony’s School. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

Past Pupil Mary Mee with current pupil Cian Coughlan presenting offertory gifts at the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017

A special mention must be made of how Archbishop Neary blessed a St. Anthony medal for everyone present at the mass and they were given out by teacher Helena Brady and pupil Maya Bullard to all afterwards.

Pupil William Ralph during the 50th Anniversary Mass. Photo © Ken Wright Photography

Meleesa Egan one of the first pupils in St. Anthony’s School in 1967 receives a bouquet of flowers from Principal Fiona Byrnes on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017

Past staff members of St. Anthony’s School who enjoyed the reunion at the 50th Anniversary Mass from left to right: Gemma Clerkin, Ena Sheridan, Teresa Lydon, Kathleen Flynn, Maureen Molloy and Patricia Walsh. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

One of the founders and current Chairperson Johnny Mee recounted to the large audience of guests how St. Anthony's started from the efforts of a few determined parents back in 1966 when they established what is now Western Care Association and how only a short year later a brand-new school had been set up to cater for children with disabilities. His daughter Mary Mee was one of the first pupils in the school and Mary was present at the mass along with Meleesa Egan another first pupil of the school.

Hilda Kavanagh Looking at some of the name in the old Roll Book. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.


Founder of the school and Chairperson Johnny Mee giving a speech at the 50th Celebrations. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017


Party treats for pupils Martha McDonagh, Daniel Lawrence, Matilda Sweeney, Cian Coughlan, Conor Loughnane and James Connor. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.


Enjoying a well deserved cup of tea at St. Anthony’s School 50th celebrations are SNA Alacoque Gavin and Work Placement Student Orla McLoughlin. Photo © Ken Wright Photography 2017.

Past pupil Patsy Hopkins finding her name and photo on the historical Timeline during the 50th celebrations at St. Anthony’s School

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