01 847 3522
Donahies Community School

Testimonials

08-December-20

Audrey Boland

" Fantastic school, great Teachers and a lovely athmosphere. I did my Leaving Certificate in 1991 and attended the 40th Anniversary dinner. Peter and co. you are doing an amazing job. The friendships that have been formed between past, present and retired teachers and pupils will last a lifetime. Great memories I will treasure, thanks. Class of 1991."

Armod Bjorn

"Brilliant school. I wasn't always the easiest to deal with and with age, I have come to realise they were only doing their best for me. Great years, great memories, great friends. I miss it to be honest."

Brendan Geoghegan @ The Donahies Community School 1994-2000

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Like most young kids, leaving primary school at 12 years old and embarking onto the next stage of the education and life journey and into secondary school was a daunting event, terrifying in fact. It was a real unknown, your first step to becoming a teenager, a new school, new subjects, new teachers, new friends, it was all a bit too new for me and for anyone of 12 years of age I guess it must be a very overwhelming experience at first.
I distinctly recall our first assembly, gathered outside the library of the Donahies, just beyond the hallway leading to ‘the back gate’ (is that still there?). Freshly pressed uniforms, complete with trouser crease down the centre and shiny new black shoes. Our school bags weighed down with so many books, it felt like we were carrying the entirety of our little lives and had been shipped off by our parents to explore a vast new world. I lined up in my assigned area, nervously looking around, afraid to catch the eye of a new teacher, got our new timetable, our class number, which was 1E and the traditional welcome speech from our year head Mr. Kelly and the school principle at the time Mr. Hickey.
Double English on a Monday...sigh…. double Maths on a Thursday...snore… what kind of torture-table is this? I’m sure I exclaimed, quietly and to myself obviously. My only saving grace at that age was our half day on Wednesday afternoons. Finally, something new I could get onboard with! Getting to know my new school, finding my way around the square layout, which sounds easy right! Being instructed to only ever walk on the left was an interesting rule, rarely one to abide by, unless of course you spotted a teacher coming toward you. I settled into the routine eventually and watched out for customary ‘first year baitings’ (I sincerely hope they are thing of the past) as I walked from class to class, every 40 mins packing up and moving on to the next room, almost like speed dating for students and their favourite subjects.
Like everyone, I naturally gravitated towards the subjects and the teachers I enjoyed. I have fond memories of all my teachers at the Donahies, I recall very fondly people like, Mr. Griffin, our English teacher in 1st to 3rd year, who literally banned the use of the words ‘Just’ and ‘Only’. “Sir, I was just..” …or ..”Sir I was only” became sentences we rarely uttered in that class, under the threat of death by lines. Mr. Madden, our Italian teacher whom I will always remember trying his utmost, in his own very animated and enthusiastic style, to teach us irregular verbs and past tense in Italian. Mr. Shorten, our science teacher, whom I am sure to this day remembers trying to extinguish my school jumper when it caught fire from a Bunsen burner and smoke mysteriously billowed from my elbow, whilst at the same time trying to put out a fire when some phosphorus he was demonstrating, combusted in his hands and sent a bright orange flame over our heads. Looking back now, through rose tinted glasses of course and 20 plus years later, all of my teachers were great characters and exceptional people in their own right as educators. Their primary focus and concern was to help me make the transition from primary to secondary and onwards into the world of work.
The Junior cert went well, the results weren’t spectacular, I was never an A or even a B student, I was reasonably happy with them given the work I had put in across the 3 years to the exam. To paraphrase my woodwork teacher at the time, Mr. Doyle, words which still resonate with me, “…you get out what you put in” I tend to live by those even today and they stood me well all those years and into today. Needless to say, when I returned after Junior and the summer break to an almost unanimous chorus from my teachers that the Junior cert ‘doesn’t really matter’, and how it was all about preparing for the leaving cert now, I felt a little bit let down that they were being so laissez-faire about it and for keeping it a big secret until after the event ! (If Mr. Madden knew I was using French in this piece and not Italian he would be molto furioso)
4th year, or transition year as it was known then, became what was to be my most enjoyable year at the Donahies overall. That year, for me, was filled with new opportunities to showcase my talents, typically fewer academic activities, which allowed me to be somewhat creative. Things like, having the chance to produce our yearbook, demonstrating by abilities in areas like computing and business were more important this year than our traditional English, Irish and Maths. I got to know my teachers in a different dynamic and setting and before long, I was winning awards to beat the band at our transition year graduation ceremony. One award, in particular, that stands out in my mind, was winning the DCU, North Dublin Access Achievement award in ‘recognition of personal achievement and contribution to school life’. That is one I am particularly proud of, being a young man from Darndale, that sort of recognition and reward could not have happened if it wasn’t for transition year at the Donahies and the teachers who offered us those opportunities and gave us that space to explore different ideas.
When I was preparing to write this short piece about my time at the Donahies, I went back to my 4th and 6th year yearbooks and exam test reports from my first exams in the school in 1st year to my easter exams, mock exams, junior cert, leaving cert and post leaving cert results. (Yes, my Mam kept them all, thankfully). It was interesting to trace the transformation from young naïve and frightened schoolboy through to young adult preparing for the workforce. Immediately after transition year, I changed how I engaged at school and how I worked with my teachers. I became more involved in areas I wouldn’t have before, more outgoing generally and my exam results changed too as we got closer and closer to leaving cert. It was time to ‘knuckle down’ as Mr. Fahy would often remind us as he marched across the board in front of us, carrying a T-square or threatening to take away our computer trolley privileges. In those days, we had one computer that was wheeled around on a trolley from class to class, almost like the TV and Video was at the time.
Our final year at the school, often wished away back then, suddenly became a reality. Here we were, now grown, responsible adults. Or so we thought, most of us were barely 18 years old. We had completed our leaving cert and it was time to leave the school and move onto bigger and better things. College, jobs, courses, travelling the world, all our hopes and dreams beckoned. I wasn’t ready for any of that, not even close. To this day, I regret turning down a scholarship programme that was offered to me as part of the DCU award from the Donahies transition year. (see that storyline was going somewhere). I didn’t go to college to earn a degree or a masters. Instead, I found the PLC programme at the Donahies was offering a course I was genuinely interested in and that I wanted to explore. So, I opted to do a PLC in Information Technology. That went well and I continued to attend the Donahies for another year or so, before I dropped out of that course, and found work in the big bad world.
At the risk of sounding like a futuristic novel, the year is 2021…. and despite me thinking otherwise 21 odd years before, I am now a fully grown and responsible adult. Surprisingly, with so much still to learn, but thankfully, gainfully employed in a job I truly love at AXA and doing what the Donahies taught me to do, all those years ago and now working in technology. I can’t express enough; how thankful I am to the teachers that brought me on the incredible journey across my 7 years at the Donahies. Many of those wonderful people have since moved on of course, but others remain and I am sure they are as committed to the current students and their education as they were to mine and I am proud to say to some of my own family. I can’t begin to thank them enough for giving me the lifelong gift of education and instilling in me, the Donahies core values to undertake and accomplish.

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Donahies Community School
Streamville Road
Dublin 13
Ireland

01 847 3522

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