There should have been tears and anger from the teachers and pupils of Monreagh National School as their beloved school shut today after 158 years.
The tiny Carrigans school has been home to generation after generation families in the village.
But although there was sadness, there were not too many tears as Principal Kerry Harris locked the door on the school one last time.
That’s because the staff and the 25 pupils at the school can look forward to moving into a brand new building – just across the road in September.
Ms Harris, her fellow teacher Ms Laura Lane and the school’s special needs assistant Michelle Cullen as well as the pupils have watched happily as the new school was built over the past year.
“The old school was a bit of a health hazard and it has been tremendous to see the new school come up out of the ground.
“It is the start of a new chapter and it was sad locking the door one last time on the old school. It has been a great place for so many generations of people in Carrigans,” she said.
The Department of Education had tried to close the school on many occasions and also tried to amalgamate it with other local schools.
However Principal Harris said the new building if proof that the right decision was taken to keep the school open.
“I think it proves the fact that local people want to have a school of their own locally.
“They tried to close us down on many occasions but we fought against it. I think the new school and the demand of it has proven us right,” she said.
Enrollment at the new school will increase to 28 in September.
Among those who will be attending the school for the first time will be little Merlin Reece-Duncan, 4. who is the fourth generation of a local family to be educated at Monreagh National School.
Merlin’s sister Jessica is also a pupil at the school and was their father Melvin, grand-father Geoffrey and great grandmother Isobel Duncan, 83 who is the oldest surviving pupil from the school.
Merlin’s mother Josephine, the treasurer of the school, said she was very sad to see the old school close but is delighted that a new chapter is beginning in the little village.
“It’s wonderful that we managed to keep the school open and build a new school. Everyone pulls together and there is a great emphasis on education.
“It shows what can be done if people are willing to fight for what they believe in.
“All you hear these days is cutbacks in education but this shows things can happen if you fight for what you believe in,” she said.