On Wednesday 6th September 1972 Tallaght Community School opened it’s doors for the first time and RTE were on hand to cover the story (please click on link below)
The new school, which was the first community school to open in Ireland and hence the big media interest, was located at the time in what was the Vocational School at Main Road.
The launch of community schools came six years after the introduction of free post primary education when second level schools experienced an unprecedented demand for places.
Before 1972, apart from a small number of comprehensive schools, second level education was clearly divided into two sectors.
The private second level schools, most of them owned by religious orders, offered academic studies up to Leaving Cert level while the vocational schools offered courses which prepared students for the world of work.
The idea behind the community school system was the amalgamation of existing small second level and vocational schools and the setting up of single schools on greenfield sites to provide a wide ranging curriculum under one roof.
Unlike most second level schools 45 years ago, the community schools were co educational, multi denominational and non selective.
They were designed to cater for students of all levels and abilities. Equality of opportunity was an important aspect of the system – there were no boys only or girls only subjects.
Padraig Heeran, the first principle of the school, who sadly passed away last year, also gave an interview to the Irish Times dated 1st September following his appointment.
In it he’s described as a “red haired, young looking, 44 year old Longford man, who confesses to an inability to help his 10 year old daughter with the new maths!”
Mr Heeran goes on to say that he had not accepted the job when it was first offered to him “without a lot of hesitation” but now was looking forward to the school’s opening with “a mixture of exhilaration and apprehension” and he hoped “the schools first major expansion will be in the fields of art, music and drama.”
Padraig, who was very popular among both students and fellow staff, held the position of headmaster at TCS until his retirement in 1988.