Ahane, a seemingly insignificant townland in the parish of Castleconnell in east Limerick, which does not appear on any ordinance survey map, has made significant contributions to the development of cultural, educational and sporting life. Ahane became synonymous with hurling not only throughout the entire country but also as far afield as the Americas and Australia in a time when telecommunications was as far removed as a shuttle to the moon.
The economic circumstances in the early 1900s were such that the majority of people did not have a lot going for them. The G.A.A. and hurling games in particular, at both local and inter-county levels, helped raise their spirits. The cry “Come on Ahane the spuds are boilin’ ” which could be heard on many a hurling pitch was synonymous with raising the spirit. Formal education in Ahane took over from Mr. Patsy Collins hedge school in 1823. Sir Richard Bourke, born in 1778, was the philanthropist who paid for and built Ahane School before the Famine occurred and prior to the repeal of the Penal Laws in Ireland. As a result of the generosity of Sir Richard Bourke, a stone building was erected by him on his estate, Thornfields, Ahane in 1823. This school commenced with 79 pupils, boys and girls attending and was in situ until 1933 when the new school was built down the road at the Cross of Laught. Sir Richard Bourke, who subsequently became Governor in New South Wales, was guided by his experience gleaned in Ahane, when he set up and developed the educational system in that part of Australia (1831-1835). The 1933 school served the community well over the years and an extension was built in 2002 with Principal Margaret Hannon at the helm. Tracing the school’s progression, in 1823 there were 79 pupils enrolled in Ahane school, there were 88 in 1933 and now in 2008 there are 122 attending Ahane N.S.
Each century has brought huge improvements and Ahane N.S. is now a high tech school complete with fully networked computers. The commitment to being a green school is illustrated by the school being twice winners of the Tidy Towns School Awards in the Mid West Region and complete with a solar panelled road sign, vegetable garden, flower garden and nature trails. This work is overseen by Mr. Michael O’Shea, who won first prize this year for ‘Best Environmental Educator 2008’. The love and nurturing nature continues to be embedded in the children’s minds.
As winners of Limerick County Council Environment Awards and Discovery Science Awards over the past four years, the accomplishments of the school continue to grow. Changes continue to take place in Ahane N.S. This year we saw the opening of a new extension in Ahane N.S., with the addition of two new classrooms. Bishop Willie Walsh visited the school on June 19th to bless the new facilities. Parents, pupils and neighbours were invited to join in this celebratory occasion. The school’s commitment to a green planet was endorsed by the planting of a Chestnut tree by Bishop Willie Walsh in the school grounds. The Board, Principal and Staff can look forward with confidence to meeting the requirements of the community but in so doing must not forget the efforts and achievements of those who have gone before us.
Submitted by Staff of Ahane N.S. circa 2009