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Another national school closes in Achill


ANOTHER CLOSURE Bunnacurry National School on Achill Island is to close next week.

Anton McNulty

Only six national schools will reopen in the parish of Achill for the new school term in September, with Bunnacurry National School to close its doors for the final time this week.
The school in the centre of the island has been earmarked for closure for a number of years due to dwindling pupil numbers with only three pupils remaining for the final school year.
To mark the closure of Bunnacurry NS, a special end of year Mass took place in the local church on Saturday night with refreshments taking place afterwards in the school.
The current school building was opened in 1964 following the amalgamation of the old boys national school located on the grounds of the Franciscan monastery and the old girls national school in the village.
The school was once one of the largest in the parish with a large catchment area with pupils  from the villages of Dooega, Mweelan, Cashel, Askill and Bunnacurry attending the school. It also went under extensive refurbishment in recent years and was the only school on the island with a specialised autism spectrum disorder (ASD) room.
However, in the last 20 years the number of pupils attending the school gradually started to fall in a trend which is familiar in many rural communities. Ten years ago there was 35 pupils enrolled in the school but as the number of pupils started to decline, many parents in the traditional catchment areas choose to send their children to national schools with healthier pupil numbers, which accelerated the decline in numbers.
Bunnacurry National School will be the third national school in the parish of Achill to close in the last ten years following the closure of Currane NS in 2015 and Bullsmouth NS in 2019. The remaining national schools in the parish are Tonragee NS, Achill Sound NS, Saula NS, The Valley NS, Dookinella NS and Dooagh NS.