Local History by Seán Beattie

Carndonagh, Carndonagh Community School, Education, Inishowen

Carndonagh Teachers 1972

Image of Staff Photo in Inish Duinn Carndonagh Community School


The two pictures show staff members of Carndonagh College in the Colgan Hall, top, and Convent of Mercy, below. The photos first appeared in INIS DÚINN, 1972, when the second edition of the school magazine was published. It ran to 52 pages and included contributions by students called Paul Fiorentini (Moville) and Paddy Doherty (Dunaff ) among others. Paul is the current Principal and Paddy taught Irish for many years. John O’Kane, (Culdaff) wrote a poem called TRAMP and Deirdre McGrory (Culdaff) wrote a poem called VOCATION. Carmel Lynott provided make-up tips. By 1972, both schools had amalgamated with a total school population of about 400. In September 1973, the two schools joined the Technical School to form Carndonagh Community School, one of the first ten established in Ireland and funded by the World Bank.

Of the college staff, four have passed away – Fr Gallagher, Fr McKenna, John O’Leary and Evelyn Beattie. Of the Convent staff, four are deceased – Helen O’Reilly, Sean McDevitt, Sister Margaret Mary McKinney and Mrs Farren.

The idea for the school magazine came from Fr McKenna in 1971. He had been a teacher in Maghera before he came to Carn College as Headmaster in 1971. Maghera had a magazine also and they included photos of all pupils and staff. Thanks to Fr McKenna, photos were published of all students thereafter except for a break in the 1980s. They can be seen today in the school corridors.

Of the College staff, Veronica McLaughlin is currently School Secretary and Fr McGoldrick is PP of Fahan. Fr Lagan became a Bishop, and was the first Guidance Counsellor in the school. John O’Leary had a great knowledge of History and English and never used text books. He came from Cork and his brother was Professor of Political Science in Queen’s University, Belfast and a published author. Jim Quigley taught Geography and was mentioned in a poem by one of his pupils who became a famous dramatist, Frank McGuinness. Andy McNelis taught mainly Irish as did Evelyn Beattie, who also taught English and Religion. Brian Gormley taught Maths and Colm Toland taught Science and Maths (and Gaelic football outside class time). I taught English, History and French (the latter for one year). In 1984, I was appointed Guidance Counsellor. Fr McKenna taught Latin for a short time before he became Principal. Fr Gallagher taught Irish.

When the two schools amalgamated in 1972, teachers had to travel between the Convent and the Colgan Hall. Fortunately, speed cameras had not been invented. In 1973, the Community School was not ready for students, so classes were still held in the old buildings. Overcrowding was so bad that some classes were taught in a Lough Swilly bus parked outside the Tech. That experiment was not a success.

In 2023, CCS will celebrate 50 years.

Image of Staff Photo in Inish Duinn Carndonagh Community School


  1. Fiona Dodd

    Good memories

  2. paddy simpson

    great stuff it would great to see a copy of inis duinn

    There are a few copies around and I am sure you are in them

  3. John Mc Laughlin

    Thanks for putting up the info. Only know of you by reputation, all good !!! I was in, I believe, the second intake of pupils ( ie the second lot of Leaving Cert examinees) in the original College, in the Colgan Hall. I believe the first Class/es made the news as being unusual in completing the leaving cycle in 4 years. Rev “Big Art” O Reilly was principal at the outset.

    As an aside, while agreeing that Mr O’Leary did not generally use textbooks, he did occasionally have the odd one in his case— e.g. he was likely to, while elaborating on some aspect of literature say something along the lines “as xyz says, in his book on the subject, on page 154………I think” and then take out the book from his bag and say ” sorry it was page 156″ !! . He was the proverbial font of knowledge. Some of us smart alecs (excluding myself, of course) , occasionally used to deliberately raise an issue which necessitated him rush next door into the “library ” (Fr Campbells room) to check in Encyclopaeia Brittanica— to discover that the particular volume in question had been secreted in advance by one of us. We knew that he would invariably be proven right, as he always was.

    Father Lagan was generally the favourite, as apart from anything he used to take us on our “free classes” in the Wesleyan Hall on Bridge Street and treat us to the gangster stories of Damon Runyon. Fr Lagan appeared to us to be very “Normal”– for a teacher/ priest.

    John Mc Laughlin

  4. Padraic HARVEY

    I was on the staff from 1977 to 1998, so I can remember at least fifteen from these two photographs.Having been a school inspector from Nov 1998 to March 2003, I then spent the rest of my career with the State Exams Commission. I only just retired on March 31 this year, after 41.5 years in education and exams. PS: I love Anne Harris’s boots!

  5. Patsy Toland

    Nice piece of history but it leaves out the appalling violence that was part of the daily routine for students during the late 60s in the school. The scars left by priests in particular are still reverberating through the lives of former students. I survived the school – certainly didn’t enjoy or grow through the education there.

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