September 1972: First community school in Ireland opens in Tallaght

By Mary Dennehy

DID you know that Tallaght Community School was the first community school in Ireland?

On September 6, 1972, Tallaght Community School featured on the RTE News when it opened in temporary accommodation in Tallaght village.

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Tallaght Community School opened in temporary accommodation (image: RTE Archives)

At the time there was much debate around this new type of school, with questions still remaining over how effective a community school, run by local education and training boards, could be.

The school, which opened with around 400 students, was a move away from the traditional secondary school model, with a community school focusing not only on education for the traditional exams but also a broad range of vocational subjects. 

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Some of the first students of Tallaght Community School (image: RTE Archives)

The school also offered certain services that had not been seen in Irish schools before such as a full-time counselling service and other back-up services, which then Principal Padraic Heeran believed was very important for both students and parents.

In an interview with RTE, Mr Heeran also expressed his optimism about the school’s future success, with Tallaght Community School continuing to prove itself as an innovator and leader in education over the past 46 years.

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Principal Padraic Heeran being interviewed by RTE (image: RTE Archives) 

Tallaght councillor Mick Duff, who is the Chair of the Tallaght Community School Board, told The Echo this week: “Tallaght Community School has around 800 students today and is still leading the way.

“Only recently students spoke to astronauts on an international space station from the school hall!

“The whole ethos of community is also still so important – the school is part of the community and the community is part of the school.”

For the full story and to watch the RTE News interview from September 6th 1972 click on the RTE Archives website HERE.

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