Former staff and pupils gathered at St. Anthony’s PS outside Limavady on Friday to say a “fond farewell” ahead of the school’s closure on June 30th.
The ‘celebration evening’ included a mass celebrated by Magilligan Parish Priest Fr. Frank O’Hagan, assisted by seminarian for the Derry Diocese Conan McGonagle from Limavady.
“It’s the end of 59 years of education at St Anthony’s and I’ve been privileged to be a part of that for 36 years,” Principal Marie Bradley said. “Everyone is sad the school is closing, but we’ve taken this opportunity to come together and reminisce and see people we haven’t seen in years. It’s the end of an era, but a new beginning for everyone.”
Fr. O’Hagan has been involved in the school for more than 20 years, and has watched enrolment fall from more than 100 to 13.
“The school has been a landmark in the parish and we want it to survive, one way or another. It’s sad it is closing, but this is a happy night because of all the success achieved at the school through the years,” said Fr Frank.
Among those studying old school photos was former Limavady mayor and St Anthony’s pupil, Cathal McLaughlin, who said: “This is where we made our best friends. It will be missed greatly.”
June Smyth (née Hazlett), who attended St Anthony’s in the 1970s, said: “I’d like to see the school stay open for the community to use. It’s a sad night, but a celebration night too. It will be missed because it was a brilliant school. It’s the end of the era for the whole community.”
Former pupil Trevor Doherty said: “It’s sad to see the school close, it’s unfortunate, but we have to do these things.”
Current pupil Aaron, said: “I’ll miss having fun and my friends. St. Anthony’s is one of the best schools ever.”