In offically opening Mohill's p10m Community College last Friday, February 5, the Minister for Education & Science, Batt O'Keeffe TD declared the development as a "beacon of light" for other schools to follow.
The opening was formally celebrated in the school's large and impressive sports hall and was attended by a large crowd of past and present students and staff, along with local representative and members of the local community.
The "state of the art" school was laid out for all to see as one of the best schools currently operating in the country and visitors were greeted by finely turned out students to a school that is setting the standards for education not only in the county but also across the country.
The new school which opened last March was formed following the amalgamation of the Marian College and Mohill Vocational School in September 2008.
Chairperson of Mohill Community College Board of Management, Cllr Enda Stenson said the official opening of Mohill Community College was an "historic occasion," a "day of great pride for the school and the community." He said the p10m investment "will make a significant return in the academic lives of the young people in the area."
Speaking about his own children's education in Mohill he said, "Nowhere in Ireland would they have been offered a better education than here."
Cllr Stenson praised the work of the Mercy Sisters, Leitrim VEC, Leitrim County Council, students, teachers and Principal Una Duffy for their dedication and commitment to the school.
CEO of Co Leitrim VEC, John Blunnie said it was a "joyous day" and a new beginning for teachers and pupils after a culmination of 7-8 years of work on the amalgamation of the two schools.
He paid tribute to the Sisters of Mercy who agreed to the amalgamation without delay and to the "mothers of Mohill" for the value they place on education and their support for every project in the area.
Former Principal of Marian College, Sr Goretti McDermott representing the Mercy Sisters explained the history of Marian College and "the struggle" they had to secure buildings large enough to teach the growing number of students.
She said "We are confident that the Mercy ethos is finding its place through the values that underpin your new college: a quality holistic education provided in an atmosphere of love, care and respect for all."
Chairperson of Leitrim VEC, Damien Brennan said it was an "important and memorable day for all of South Leitrim." He said Marian College and the Vocational College had an "outstanding tradition." Mr Brennan said the new school will prepare students "for all aspects of life" adding, "the best is yet to come."
Student Council Representative Deirdre Reynolds said the day was "an historic and landmark occasion." She said the students were grateful for the opportunities they have been given.
Minister Batt O'Keeffe said the Mohill Community College is the "gelling of two histories and a product of good will." He quoted Henry Kissinger saying, "History is not written about those who do not achieve." He said the new school will "exact and demand high standards" from it's pupils.
Minister O'Keeffe said Mohill Community College was "an important flag-bearer for the Government's school building programme which is revolutionising student campuses across the country."
He noted the school will be a "beacon of light" - "a landmark development" and "a prize possession" with future plans to develop it's role in education into the wider community.
Last September, the school opened the first second-level autism unit in Leitrim and the Minister praised the foresight of this development.
"As well as that, my Department recently approved €14,000 for the development of basketball courts and I know that the board of management is anxious to move ahead with this work during the mid-term break," he said.
The Minister concluded saying the new college is a "treasure trove to be appreciated by the whole community" before unveiling the commemorative plaque in the Sports Hall.
Principal Una Duffy said the celebration of the new school was a "continuation from the 1930s second level education in Mohill and surrounding areas."
She said the ideals of the Vocational School were no different to those of the Mercy Sisters and "thus a merger was not difficult."
She said although the area has a small population they have "one of the highest population at third level colleges." She said Mohill Community College wishes to "develop the vision of our predecessors and hope that nothing is lost."
An ecumenical blessing by Canon Bill Atkins and Fr Bernard Hogan PP was accompanied by a student choir and readings.
Enda Stenson closed the opening by inviting all present to look around the school and enjoy a light lunch. He said the opening day will be one that will be "long etched in our memories."
The 22 classroom school with a competition-sized gym, three science laboratories, technology suite, three computer rooms, language room and canteen currently caters for 331 students.