Light of Christ National School is the local school for girl’s education in the maritime village of Dunmore East. There is a long history of education for girls in Dunmore going way back long before the current school.
A little over one hundred years ago, Dunmore East was a breath-taking resort and an important fishing centre with a fine harbour. The harbour was built on land that used to belong to the Marquis of Waterford. Now, as back then, Dunmore has many facilities. In the 1800s a large summer house was built by the aforementioned Marquis which later became the ‘Bay Hotel’.
However, we have to say that life wasn’t easy for everyone because the surrounding countryside and nearby villages were home to many poor farmers and struggling fishermen. In 1831, Catherine McCauley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, an organization which would have a massive impact on the girls in Dunmore East.
In 1883, the Sisters of Mercy were invited to Dunmore East. At first, it was thought that the convent and school would be built on land close to the Parish Church in Killea. This never happened. Business had been bad in the ‘Bay Hotel’ for some years before the sisters arrived and the building was in a bad state. Fr. Crotty agreed to buy it but agreed to pay only half of the asking price! The hotel where wealthy people used to stay was changed into a centre for the spiritual, educational and social needs of the people.
When Fr. Crotty died the sisters were going to move to Waterford because they could not afford to keep on paying for the house. The people were upset so they offered to help with the remaining debt. The sisters increased in numbers and soon a school opened. In the early 1900s, a lace-making industry was set up to help young school leavers earn some money but the First World War put an end to demand and it closed. A new bigger school opened in 1945.
Time passed but the next big change didn’t happen until 1991 when the school left the old convent in favour of a nice and modern school building on a large site on Cuckaloo Hill. The new school was opened by the Minister for Education Mary O’Rourke in May of that year.
Over the years there have been many changes including prefabs and in 2014 a lovely new extension was built to include an assembly hall, library and computer room, sports equipment room and a general office. Sr. Kathleen Fitzgerald was the last Mercy sister as Principal, she retired in 2004 and Mrs Rose Avitabile held the position until 2017 when Mr Damien Diver took on the role.
The current principal Ciara McSweeney joined the school in 2019.