The Foundation of the School
The founding of Old Bawn Community School (OBCS) in 1978 was part of what was called the ‘Myles Wright Plan’ in 1967, which focused on the creation of four new towns to the west of Dublin City, Blanchardstown, Lucan, Clondalkin and Tallaght. There were no development corporations created to develop the Irish new towns, so instead, South Dublin County Council combined with private investment contributed towards local housing, retail, a national hospital and education. Tallaght Community School (founded in 1972) situated in Balrothery was the only other post-primary school located in Tallaght before Old Bawn Community School was founded, so the need for investment in education in the area was required to match with the fast growing population.
The majority of post-primary schools located in the Tallaght area have the term of ‘community’ within its title. Old Bawn Community School since its foundation has found itself partnering with the community in terms of youth development, family support, health and social services. The term ‘community’ is essential to its founding. Since 1982, the school has been familiar with the tradition of hosting non-school uniform days in order to allow students to donate to local charities such as St. Vincent De Paul and the Dominican charities to give the community a helping hand when in need.
The idea of aiding those areas of need is heavily associated with the founders of Old Bawn Community School, The Dominican Fathers and Sisters. The establishment of the Dominican Order was in response to an ever changing society during the thirteenth century; towns and cities were growing in a way not known before in terms of communication, technology, social conditions etc. Similarly, we can compare this to the transformation of Tallaght from an urban village to an urban city within a matter of years allowing the Dominican trust to take advantage and set up three primary schools (St. Marys, St. Dominic’s & St. Martin De Porres) and of course Old Bawn Community School as its feeder post-primary school.
The Old Bawn crest symbolizes deep historic roots within the Dominican ethos. The image shown in the school crest symbolizes the first sighting staff and students can see from the school grounds, which is the St. Marys Priory in Tallaght Village, also known as the settlement for Dominicans during the 19th Century. The Priory was originally a settlement by Saint Maelruan in the eight century who was a prominent figure during the reform movement in Celtic Monasticism and Tallaght was the epicentre of his ordeals. The monastery survived a number of attacks especially during Norman and Viking invasions, except in 1729 when Archbishop Hoadly decided to demolish all of the friary except one tower, and this tower still exists today as part of the Priory. The land was sold to the Dominicans in 1856, and since then the priory has been used as a centre for religious educational purposes and a headquarters for distance learning programmes.
The ‘Experience’ of the School
In a small booklet published in 1988 to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the school, one of the first sentences reads the following: (The schools philosophy in relation to staff) “Endeavour to attract the very best available and through encouragement, involvement, leadership and motivation build a team that would be capable to meet the challenges a new school invariably throws out.” Approaching the 30 years since this quote was written and 40 years since the school opened, many of the teaching staff in OBCS are ex-pupils of the school. Indeed, the ‘very best available’ are those that understand the ethos of the school more than others; of course hiring ex-pupils is not a unique approach, but it is a very sensible one in that ex-pupils understand the holistic Dominican ethos more wholly than other interviewees eyeing up a position.
Since OBCS was founded it has always been the policy to cater for the sporting interests and needs of the majority of the students at both competitive and recreational level. To this end students have been encouraged to participate and become competent in more than one sport. While the school has a rich history of being successful in GAA and hurling competitions at both local and national level, they have the local teams in Thomas Davis & St. Annes to thank for such talent. The two are nationally renowned and institutionalised to the community and one would be shocked to walk around the area and not see one of them club jackets on either a child or a parent; the rivalry can be quite bitter sometimes, but they come together as one on the field representing OBCS with great pride. The school also uses both club pitches as their own home turf to familiarize the students with the playing field which again suggests the devoted commitment OBCS has for the community. There are quite a handful of ex-pupils who have made it into the world of sport; the most well-known would be Stephen Kenny who is an ex-professional footballer and the current Dundalk Football Club manager. Next down the ladder would be Keith Fahey who is a recently retired professional footballer and had cup success with Birmingham City in England. Others include Daniel and Richard Purdy who are also currently professional and semi-professional footballers. Those ex-pupils who have become sports stars are present on the schools ‘wall of fame’ that students walk by every day and it is this that paves the way for inspiration and lays down traditions for the present students and those of the future.
By Sean Loughney
PME Student 2017