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Drumshanbo Vocational School

Drumshanbo Vocational School first opened its doors in October 1964.  It's hard to imagine that before a huge area of Leitrim and North Roscommon had no second level education facilities.  When it first opened, the school was only allowed provide a two year Group Certificate course followed by a one year trade or commercial course.  This did not stop pupils from coming and within a short time the school was full.  Pupils from this era were often forced to emigrate for financial reasons and they acquited themselves excellently wherever they went.  In some cases they were in a position to return to Ireland many years later.

Donagh O'Malley, Minister for Education, changed the face of education in Ireland by offering free eduaction and free school transport at both primary and post-primary level.  This immediately broadened the scope and range of Drumshanbo Vocational School with pupils now being offered the Group, Intermediate and Leaving Certificate courses.  1972/73 was a landmark year in which the entire future of the school was placed in jeopardy, as was the future of all medium sized schools in Ireland.  The Department of Education announced that Leaving Cert courses would only be offered in certain designated schools.  Teachers, parents and pupils all united in a major campaign which had a successful outcome and soon after all post-primary schools were offering Leaving Cert courses.  Drumshanbo led the country in achieving this.

The school never looked back and numbers again greatly increased, resulting in the appearance of numerous prefabs.  Strangely many former pupils look back on the prefab era with nostalgia.  1984 saw the opening of a magnificent new extension but as usual more prefabs appeared within a few years.  The school offers a wide range and option of subjects at all levels.  Former pupils are to be found in the fields of law, medicine, nursing, science, arts, teaching and many other professions.

The religious education of the pupils was never negected.  Initially and for several years afterwards, the local priests took religion classes but as numbers increased the work load became impossible and a catechetics teacher was employed on a full time basis and continues to be so employed.  The local minister also came in to look after the religious needs of the pupils of other denominations.

Concurrent with normal class development the school was always involved in adult and further education.  This took many forms, the simplest being the night class format which took place every Autumn and Winter with each course running for set periods and advertised in the local papers.  The commercial sector, which started out as typewriting, shorthand and related subject developed over the years into an integral part of the school, adapting to the latest technology.

The setting up of Drumshanbo Commercial College in the early 1990's marked the beginning of a period of considerable change for the Secretarial course.  The growth of the IT industry and the increased interest and need for adult education became obvious and the college was quick to realise the potential for development.It became one of the first centres in the country to introduce examinations under the National Council for Vocational Awards Scheme.  This national award gave a new status to the whole area of further education and was availed of by both the Post Leaving Cert student and the adult student who wished to retrain.  The college was to the forefront in introducing a range of computer modules and a broad range of modern office skills, which included teleservices training.  Both the technology and the training were constantly changed and updated to suit the needs of industry.  Students from the college were gainfully employed both locally and nationally and a large percentage of students moved effortlessly on to third level education with a firm range of computer skills.

To embrace the growth of other disciplines, the Commercial College became Drumshanbo College of Further Education and a second Post Leaving cert course was introduced.  The college joined with Moorlands Equestrian Centre in the establishment of a course in horsemanship.  Students were given the qualifications needed to pursue a career in the equestrian world and the riding skills which would allow them to participate in competitive events.  The great local interest in music was recognised with the establishment of a performing Art and Music course.  This course provided a thorough introduction to the world of music and music industry studies and proved highly popular. Latter a very specialised course in Media Engineering was introduced.  This course offered a practical introduction to Media Engineering and was designed to meet the needs of students following media oriented courses.  Finally in later years a course in Art, Craft and Design was introduced.  From small beginnings, Drumshanbo College of Further Education has become one of the largest centres for PLC and education in the West.

No school is complete without it's extra curricular activities and teachers and pupils were active participants in all forms of activities, plays, debates, quizzes and a series of musicals.  In sport, not many schools can boast of two All-Ireland volleyball finals and Connacht finals in football.  Basketball and handball are also popular.  The parish and surrounding area can be jusifiably proud of their post-primary school.

For further information on Drumshanbo Vocational School visit their website at: http://www.dvs.ie/