A Brief history of Borris Vocational School
Borris Vocational School was opened in 1939 and it was staffed by a Headmaster Mr. J. McDwyer who taught Rural Science; a Woodwork Instructor; a Domestic Science Instructress and an Irish/Commerce teacher. There were some twenty five students, boys and girls enrolled.
The school had no set courses but followed a programme which was considered most suitable to the needs of the environment. There was no prescribed examination at the end of what was intended to be a two-year course and the only certificate awarded was one formulated by the V.E.C.
In 1944 Mr. Jim Hennessy was appointed Principal. The school then consisted of a two-roomed L-shaped building containing the Cookery room and the Woodwork /Science room. The Woodwork room was well equipped with ten benches and tools. In Winter adult night classes were held, where a wide variety of items were made ranging from wheelbarrows to mahogany sideboards depending on the ambition, dexterity and skill of the individual.
The Cookery room was similarly furnished but most of the utensils were second hand and in very poor shape. Adult night classes were also held in Cookery, Crafts and Dressmaking.
When not used for the primary purpose both rooms served as class rooms for French and German. By now the school had become recognised as a centre of culture and education and attendances increased so much that accommodation became a problem and a new Woodwork room was built in 1954, relieving the pressure for the time being, and also serving as a Hall for social functions.
With the advent of free education and free transport in 1967, the attendance exploded and the Intermediate Certificate was embodied in the curriculum in 1969 as well as a Secretarial course. Major alterations had to be made in the school structure and a new Science room and Metalwork room were added in 1967; Metalwork being an entirely new subject. The Leaving Certificate was the next objective. Shortage of teachers was the problem and until this crisis was solved students who wanted to advance to Leaving Certificate level were obliged to go to Carlow and later to Bagenalstown Vocational Schools to study for it.
In 1975, after thirty one years of unbroken service, the stewardship was handed over to Ms. Breda Nolan.
In 1978, the Leaving Certificate was introduced to the school and at last, that reserve of energy so long subdued was now released and the full potential of the teaching staff became evident. Progress gathered a new momentum. Results were fabulous. Over the years garden, orchard and plantation had to make way for 10 prefabs. Enrolment continued to avalanche. Accommodation became so untenable that a new extension was sought. Permission to build was finally granted in June 1991 and work began immediately.
The extension consists of seven general classrooms, a Home Economics room, a Lunch area, Staff room, Offices, Toilets, and a fully equipped Sports Hall.
Students and teachers moved into the new building in September and an Open Day was held for the public on 19th October 1992.
Since 1992 the school has continued to grow and develop. With the help and support of a very active Parents Association, the school Sports Hall was extended and the pitches further developed. Prefabricated classrooms were added and much-needed storage space was created from existing structures in the school.
In January 2005 the Department of Education and Science sanctioned the building of a further permanent extension to the school. This fine extension consists of new classrooms, Science Laboratories, Computer, Home Economics, Art and Metalwork rooms and an extension to the Sports Hall.
Borris Vocational School has had many notable achievements over the years; sporting achievements include All-Ireland successes in Hurling, Leinster champions in Hurling and Camogie, academic successes, debating, public speaking, art, music, chess, equestrian competitions, basketball and rowing. The school produced the Irish Young Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2005. The school has received numerous awards including Special awards for outstanding sporting achievements. The school hosted the All-Ireland Inter-Schools Hunter Trials in 2008 in which over 600 students from all around the country participated
Ms. Nolan retired in 2006 after 31 years as Principal, she left the school in fantastic shape for Mr. Kieran Lucas the current Principal.
August and September of 2007 will be remembered forever amongst the school community as the time when the completed Borris Vocational School, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, became a new landmark in South County Carlow.
The old school has been incorporated into the new design and architecturally it has worked very well. The new accommodation includes fully equipped science labs., computer room plus multimedia room, new subject teaching rooms (most of which have their own computers also), an amazing art room over looking one of the three courtyard spaces, music performance area and a brand new home economics and dress design rooms. The technical subjects also have their own suite of rooms complete with “state of the art” equipment. The sports hall has been totally refurbished and now boasts a new fully equipped fitness centre.
The atmosphere within the school is purposeful and calm, reflecting maybe the architects’ vision of what a school should be like in use. Borris Vocational school has come a long way since its inception in 1939; the past and present Principals and all associated with this fine school are justifiably proud of it, as can the community which it serves.