Breathing life into Corraleehan’s old school

A small group of people full of enthusiasm, ideas and determination can bring about big changes. While many communities around the country are seeing the fibres that held them together slowly unwinding, Corraleehan is bucking the trend. Corraleehan Heritage and Cultural Society made up of a committee of six people, formed last year in an effort to develop the area and to harvest the traditions and cultures of the locality for the next generation.

A small group of people full of enthusiasm, ideas and determination can bring about big changes. While many communities around the country are seeing the fibres that held them together slowly unwinding, Corraleehan is bucking the trend. Corraleehan Heritage and Cultural Society made up of a committee of six people, formed last year in an effort to develop the area and to harvest the traditions and cultures of the locality for the next generation.

In a small space of time they made much progress and now they endeavour to take their biggest step: Renovate Clogher NS and host the performance of ‘The Country Boy.’

The school has been closed to pupils since 1973 and has not been used by the community for a long time, but it has been a hive of activity recently as locals have come together to fix it up, repair what is broken, paint, decorate and beautify the small school building, owned by the parish, in preparation for an audience on February 22 and 23. The leaking roof has been patched, the toilets fixed, the rooms cleaned and walls freshly painted.

The Corraleehan Heritage and Cultural Society cleaned up covered bridges last year bringing young and old with them, they brought the community together for a traditional bonfire on June 23. The recessionary bonfire included music by local people, singing, dancing, some sweets, food and tea in flasks. “We were waltzing in the fields” laughed Tracey McTague, Chairperson of the new committee.

Following the success of the bonfire, the group got together again and went on a ‘Mystery Tour’ around the North West stopping off at sites of heritage and cultural significance with a bus load of people aged 20 - 79! The parish even held a Halloween Party, they resurrected old games, songs and music, and had a get-together with a kids disco and entertainment for young and old.

Tracey who acts alongside locals Kevin McTague and Pat Rehill decided it would be great to put ‘The Country Boy’ on in Clogher NS and revive the old school with laughter and drama. “Rushing towards the finish line” on February 22 it is all hands on deck to make the school presentable enough for the production. The €10 entry fee will be used towards developing the community, putting signs up, flowers on bridges and “making the area look pretty.” The parish of Corraleehan have never had a community centre, a place for the entire people to gather together and it is a dream of the committee to have the funds and man power to turn Clogher NS into a community centre.

Tracey told the Leitrim Observer “We want to put pride back into the community and to give our young people something to come back to.” The group don’t have any funds to work with but they have decided to “enjoy what we have and make use of it.” The old school hopes to hold 60-70 patrons and is hoping that past pupils and locals from the surrounding area will support their endeavours and come on February 22 and 23 for a entertaining night. Old photos along with the school roll book will be on exhibition on both nights.

“The Country Boy” set in Mayo in the mids 1950s takes a penetrating look at the hopes and the dreams of the rural population regarding emigration and marriage in that era. The play written by John Murphy is directed by Frank Cadam and will be performed again in May this year as part of the Percy French Society weekend. The curtain raises at 8.30pm on each night, pre-booking is essential contact Joanne at 087-9233716 or Helen at 087-3130849.