A Brief History of the College

Coláiste Abbain is situated in the village of Adamstown in the heart of Co. Wexford. It is approximately 13 miles 

from the towns of Wexford, Enniscorthy and New Ross. It is surrounded by the beautiful rolling agricultural countryside of central Wexford. The college is non-denominational and coeducational. It provides second level and third level courses. At present it has an enrolment of approximately 320 second level students. It is part of Wexford and Waterford Education and Training Board (WWETB).

Adamstown Technical School was opened to students in 1936 after a suitable site was secured by the then CEO, Mr. Sean Wilmot from local publican, Mr. Michael Fortune. The official opening took place on the 26th May 1937. The first Teacher in Charge was Mr. Sean Little of Berkley, New Ross and he had the unenviable task of recruiting pupils from the surrounding primary schools. The idea of fourteen-year-old rural children still going to school, even in the thirties, was ridiculous in the extreme as far as most parents were concerned. For many years the roll boasted of 30 pupils but in reality, particularly during the sowing and harvesting seasons, numbers often dwindled to three or four.

Night classes, however, were a different proposition and classes such Woodwork, Gaelic League, Drama, Needlework and Cookery were a regular feature during the dark dreary nights of winter. Many of these classes had been the brainchild of the second Teacher in Charge Mr. Mclnemey who, incidentally, died tragically in a turbine accident near Scark, New Ross. He was replaced be Mr. Frank Barry who was subsequently transferred to Enniscorthy.

The next Teacher in Charge was the school's Irish Teacher, Mr. Tommy Carey. These were the days of want during the Emergency of 1939-'45, when war ravaged the World, particularly Europe. Supply of essential foodstuffs was guaranteed by the rationing system. Very often the ingenuity of Tommy Carey was equally important in keeping the doors of the Technical School open. At one point when closure seemed imminent he arrived back from "god knows where' with sixteen pairs of bicycle tyres which enabled the students to continue their education and cycle to school.

The advent of free education and transport in the mid sixties revolutionised Irish Education, not least the Vocational Schools as they had now come to be known. Mr. Vincent O’Dwyer replaced the retiring Mr. Carey as Principal in 1973. Two years later the schools first Vice-Principal, Mr. Terry Nagle was appointed. They both spearheaded a massive upgrading of the school buildings, student facilities and the curriculum.

The first Leaving Cert. students sat their exams in 1979. Enrolments continued to increase and staff numbers likewise. Mr. O'Dwyer launched the school to new heights. His untimely death in 1984 was widely regretted among staff, pupils, and parents alike.

His work was continued, enhanced and even surpassed by the new principal, Mr. Nicholas Sweetman who took charge in November 1984. Staff, students and parents strove to make the school one of Wexford's finest. Adamstown Vocational School became Coláiste Abbain in 1991.

In Sept.'93, Mr. Ken Quinlivan, took over at the helm and continued the pioneering philosophy of his predecessors. The era of Coláiste Abbain as a PLC centre was about to dawn. With the help of Deputy Principal, Mr. Terry Nagle, many Further Education courses were developed including the highly acclaimed Accounting Technician course.

Mr. Joe O'Brien succeeded Mr. Nagle as Deputy Principal in February 2004. An Enniscorthy man, Mr O'Brien took over the position from his eminent predecessor.He had a long and distinguished career as a woodwork teacher and IT teacher. He was a member of staff since the time of the first principal, Mr Tommy Carey.

Leaving academic achievements aside, the college over the years has competed and taken part in several extra-curricular activities. Field sports such as hurling, football, camogie, soccer, girls' football are catered for. Whether on stage in a musical, All Ireland Slogadh or on the public speaking rostrum in TCD or UCD, pupils from Coláiste Abbain can mingle with the best. Our pupils are indoctrinated in the motto "reach for the stars", a motto which serves them well as future participants in a vibrant modern Ireland.

The future looks bright as our new school came on stream in May 2016 and was officially opened by Mr Richard Bruton, TD Minister for Education and Skills on the 26th May 2017, exactly 80 years since the inaugural opening.

Contact Us

Address: Adamstown, Co. Wexford
Phone: 053 924 0564
Fax: 053 924 0836
Email: [email protected]

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