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The proposed closure of Muine Bheag Vocational School: The story so far

There have been many developments in this story, the proposed closure of Muine Bheag Vocational School in 2018. This blog will take you through those developments and the information we have to date as we look at the story so far.


Thursday, 10th March 2016: 

Councillor Denis Foley, Chairman of the board of Management at the school confirms to KCLR news that Muine Bheag Vocational School in Bagenalstown is set to close in 2018. The announcement was made during a meeting at the school earlier that afternoon. Councillor Foley spoke to KCLR News and gave his thoughts on the proposed closure.

KCLR News was the first outlet to publicly announce that the school was due to close in 2018. After breaking the news on-air and online, we discovered that parents and pupils hadn’t been informed of the plans to close “their school”.

Fianna Fail Councillor Arthur McDonald then contacted the news team to express his dissatisfaction at the proposed closure of the school. He said it simply “can’t happen” and that “something must be done” to save the school.

As the story developed, it became clear that this information was made public before teachers, pupils, staff and parents had been fully informed of the closure.

Friday, 11th March 2016

As the story progressed, lots of angry parents, pupils and members of the public contacted KCLR.

Eileen Curtis Education Officer with the Carlow Kilkenny Education and Training Board confirmed to KCLR News that that a drop in numbers is behind the decision to close Muinebheag Vocational school.

She said “that every effort had been made to boost falling enrolment numbers which has been an issue now for some time. But despite those efforts it seems just 11 students were planning to enrol next September”

Parents received a letter in the post officially informing them that the school was going to close. The letter also invited them to a meeting for junior cycle students on Monday 14th, and for parents of the senior cycle on Tuesday, 15th March. Eileen Curtis from the Education and Training Board and Principal David O Flaherty would be addressing these meetings.


Saturday, 12th March 2016

As the weekend sets in, the story continues to develop. Fine Gael TD Pat Deering contacted KCLR News and vowed to meet with “those directly involved” in an effort to keep Muine Bheag Vocational School open. He said he would meet with them on Monday.

A petition then surfaced online, encouraging those apposed to the closure to sign their name and make their feelings known. The petition has over 1,000 signatures. A Facebook page was also created by students, this has over 1,000 ‘likes’

Carlow Fianna Fail Councillor Jennifer Murnane O’Connor told KCLR news that she will be requesting a meeting with Minister Jan O’Sullivan about the closure.

Monday, 14th March:

Parents of those students in the Junior Cycle (1st and 2nd year) attend a meeting with Eileen Curtis from the ETB and Principal David O Flaherty about the proposed closure. We attended that meeting, some of the main points raised can be seen below from our live twitter feed on the night, along with pictures and videos.

The night started with students protesting outside.

The meeting got underway in the lunchroom at the school at 7:30pm.

Eileen Curtis from the Education and Training Board for Carlow/Kilkenny takes to the floor to address the gathered crowd

The meeting was then interrupted for a few minutes

Questions and comments then started coming from the floor

Principal David O Flaherty then took over from Eileen Curtis to address the crowd on behalf of the school

After some more questions, the meeting ended.

Students had gathered outside of the lunchroom, they continued to protest as Eileen Curtis left.

Tuesday, 15th March:


Carlow county councillors have called for the Chief Executive of the ETB Cynthia Deane to address a public meeting to explain the decision to close the school.

Time was set aside to discuss the matter at yesterdays council meeting with members in general agreement that they would fight to keep it open.

The second meeting at Muine Bheag Vocational School was arranged for 7:30pm.

The students turned up once again to protest against the proposed closure

Eileen Curtis from ETB opens the meeting once again by welcoming everyone to the school. Principal David O Flaherty alongside her again. They begin by explaining their decision to close the school.

A member of the gathered crowd asks “what will happen to the teachers – will they be hit with a big bang?”

The conversation quickly moves onto the ASD Unit at the school

Parents ask what can be done to save the school.

The future of the school is once again brought up

Parents then ask about the person who made this decision. They request a meeting with Cynthia Deane Chairperson of the Carlow Kilkenny Education and Training Board.

They hope it will be held the first week in April.

The conversation then moved onto the students who will be directly effected by the closure.

Someone asks “what will happen to this building and the Gym outside?”

Someone asks David O Flaherty “what have you done to attract potential students into the school”

He talks about “the successful Saturday Club”

As the crowd disperses from the meeting, students continue to protest outside

Wednesday, 16th March:

Efforts are underway to get the decision to close the school reversed.

The Chairman of the Board of management, Denis Foley, says they held a special meeting yesterday and intend to meet with the Chief executive of the Kilkenny & Carlow Education & Training board as soon as she is available.

Denis Foley says he hopes that will be the first week in April.

3 of the 5 elected TD’s John McGuinness, Kathleen Funchion & Pat Deering attended the meeting yesterday but Denis told KCLR news this morning that they have the backing of each and every TD in the constituency and local Senator Pat O’ Neill.

He says they are determined to get the decision to close the school rescinded.

Fiona, a Special Needs Assistant at the school told KCLR their students are worth fighting for.


Thursday, 17th March:

They may be on their Easter Holidays, but staff and Students from Muinebheag Vocational School in Bagenalstown took to the streets today to march against the proposed closure of their school.

They took part in the Bagenalstown St Patrick’s Day parade as a walking group.

Holding signs and placards, teachers, staff and students all marched around the town – showing they are completely against the proposed closure.


Friday, 18th March:

Students have come together to make a video highlighting why their school cannot close. The video is on their Facebook page “prevent Muine Bheag Vocational School from closing” and has been shared over 100 times.


That is the story of the proposed closure so far. Keep checking back for updates and follow our developments on Facebook and Twitter @kclr96fm

Last update: 19th March 19:00pm