Sport is a huge part of life here at Cloontuskert NS. Children are encouraged to participate in all sporting activities throughout the year. We field school teams in soccer, Gaelic football, athletics, basketball, rugby and swimming. We are very proud of the fact that we participate in both competitive and non-competitive competitions for the inclusion of all our children.
Highlights to our sporting calendar have included our recent trip to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, representing Connacht in the Aldi Play Rugby competition.
Some of our recent past pupils who have excelled on the sporting field are Stephen Ormsby – Roscommon Footballer, Jack Tucker – Ireland U18 Rugby International, Lee Kilcoyne – Captain Connacht U18 Rugby, Kevin McDonagh – Leinster U18 and Christian Donlon – U15 Irish Soccer team and has recently signed for Shamrock Rovers Youth Team.
Cloontuskert NS is in the Parish of Kilgefin. Our local church is the Holy Rosary, Ballyleague. Father Daniel is our Parish Priest. The children from Cloontuskert NS make their First Holy Communion and Confirmation in the local church.
Our local GAA club is St. Faithleach’s GAA. Many of our past pupils have carved out successful GAA careers with St. Faithleach’s and for County Roscommon. A lot of our pupils play underage for St. Faithleach’s.
Many of our children are active members of Ballyboro Football Club. Members of the club attend from both sides of the bridge, Ballyleague in Co. Roscommon and Lanesboro in Co. Longford. The children participate in many underage soccer games throughout the year.
Cloontuskert (Cluain Tuaiscirt – The Northern Meadow) is a jewel in the crown of rural county Roscommon. Lying at the foot of the Sliabh Bawn mountain, Cloontuskert holds a very interesting past. Its colloquial name, “The Abbey”, provides a valuable hint as to the ancient beginnings of our place.
Cloontuskert is situated in East county Roscommon on the R371, with the nearest town of Lanesborough, Co. Longford located 3.2 km away, and the county town of Roscommon positioned at a distance of 16 km westwards on the N63. The surrounding landscape is largely dominated by the extensive tracts of bogland located in the area. It is to this feature that the Cloontuskert housing estate owes it formation. In 1953 the estate was officially opened as one of the original Bord na Móna villages which catered for the families of workers who came from all over Ireland to gain employment on the bogs.
Cloontuskert is known for its participation in the Tidy Towns competition, in which it has been an entrant since 1965. Such participation has been a catalyst down through the years for achieving continual improvement of our village. Having amassed numerous awards down through the years, we are hoping that we can further our upward march into the future. In 2021 Cloontuskert scored the five-in-a-row of national Tidy Towns Bronze medals, as well as the National Irish Value Water Special Award in 2017.
The original Cloontuskert NS building was built by Bord na Mona as a Commercial Unit for shops in The Abbey Housing Estate in 1954.
On the 30th of September 1955 the building was converted and opened as the new school to cater for the new families arriving to the area from all over Ireland to work for Bord na Mona. It had 55 pupils enrolled in the school when it opened. The maximum number of pupils enrolled in the school at any one time was in 1969 when the roll book recorded 108 pupils.
In April 1997, the Minister for Education, Niamh Breatnach sanctioned the construction of a new school on its current site. The parents of the children raised a staggering £36,500 and it was built by local builder, Michael Kelly & Sons Building Contractors.
The first day of the new school year was on 7th September 1998. It was officially opened by Mr. Micheál Martin T.D. Minister for Education & Science. The official blessing of the school was given by Bishop Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin.
Principals of Cloontuskert NS
Our story began over 1500 years ago. The Monastery of Cloontuskert was founded around 520A.D. and soon afterwards the Monastic school would have started educating pupils. This tradition has continued down the ages. Legend says that at its’ peak the Monastic school had up to 2000 pupils. We don’t have that many students in the area anymore but the tradition of excellence remains. Bardic schools, Hedge schools, Private education, and finally national schools have all come and been part of Cloontuskerts rich heritage.
As present guardians of that heritage it is up to us to preserve the information and also the spirit of our past. We hope that in the following snippets you will feel some of that spirit and enjoy some of the 15 Centuries of life in Cloontuskert .
Cloon meaning a meadow and Tuaisceart meaning Northern combine to give the area its name. There are many northern meadows so what made our one so important? The River Shannon flows nearby and in early historic times the River was a huge barrier. No tarmacadam roads and no bridges crossed the longest River in the country. The only way across was to find a ford, a spot where the river was shallow enough to walk across and on the Shannon these are few and far between especially during the winter months. There is a ford near Cloontuskert so the area is the meadow lands to the north of the ford.
Maybe, but never forget that ford because it has dominated every development in the history of the area.
Follow us back now 2000 years or more to Celtic Ireland!
It’s a strange place to us. No paved roads and no walled fields, heavily forested and with wet dangerous bogs. Inhabited by people who believe in many Gods some very cruel like Crom Cruach who insists on human sacrifice to keep in his favour.
Crom Cruach by Jim Fitzpatrick
Ireland as a united country didn’t exist but it was a collection of small kingdoms that were often at war with each other.
The ford on the River Shannon was a weak spot on the natural defence of the province of the Connachta. Consequently the Kingdom of Hymany became very important, if the Hymany fell then the route into Connacht was open to any invaders. The political importance was demonstrated by the fact that Hymany was allied to but not subservient to the Kings of Connacht at Rathcroghan .
Celtic Hymany remained an important Kingdom, then Christianity arrived and the Monastery was established and thrived. Schools were set up and students arrived from near and far. However there was no free education then and these students paid well to acquire knowledge. And the Monastery grew richer. That was dangerous because new invaders arrived in Ireland and they were looking for loot. The early Viking raids were along the coast and the Monastery at Cloontuskert remained safe. But in time the Vikings built a fortification on Kings Island, where Limerick now stands and they began to raid up the Shannon. The fortified Town of Ruin Duin was attacked when the Vikings built a bridge of 500 longships across the lake and attacked from behind the town walls. Later they returned and attacked the Monastery at Cloontuskert .
Did they escape with great riches? Well recent sources within our school community told us that there was a long underground secret passage way from the monastery and that the Monks with their belongings escaped and that the treasure remains to this day in that lost secret passage way.
Senior Class in Cloontuskert visiting the ruins of the Monastery.
This is a medieval building so we are probably looking in the wrong place for treasure ?
The next stage in our history came with the arrival of the Normans. The remains of the Monastery that can be seen in the Graveyard are from this period in history and saw the decline and end of the Kingdom of Hymany. The Monastery too began to decline and the Monastic school waned in importance. The Irish nobility kept the tradition of learning alive by supporting the Bardic schools but to date we are short on information about any such schools in the area.
The Normans however have provided us with great local history projects. We had great fun delving into the mysteries of Heraldry. Many of us have plaques in our homes showing the Coat of Arms of our families, but do we know what the designs stand for ?