Bridgetown celebration of three milestones
The AOH Hall in Bridgetown was the setting for three separate celebrations last weekend which attracted a large crowd to the venue.
A very important building at the heart of the community the hall was built by the Ancient Order of Hibernians 100 years ago and the social event, which took place on Friday night, was as much a celebration of a thriving community as it was an event to mark the milestone anniversary.
In addition to an acknowledgement of the hall being 100 years old the night also served to mark the 65th anniversary of the setting up of a technical school in the village which, in its formative years, was shared between the hall - where the girls' classes took place - and a large store building owned by Walter Doyle, where the boys were educated.
The first boy to enter school was Matt Kehoe and the first girl to walk through the door of the AOH hall and into the school for the first time was Deirdre Morrissey.
The school's first Principal was Patrick Kinsella, from Gorey, and other teachers included Bill Mulligan (Woodwork and Construction), from Co Leitrim, and Joe Heavey (also Woodwork and Construction), from Co Galway.
The first female teacher in the school was Ms Cahill, from Co Limerick.
The third celebration on Friday night was the marking of the 30th anniversary of the local Tops group winning the county title in 1968.
Those in attendance were told about the history of the hall and the school, and they were also told of the pride the people of the village had when Tops success came their way.
Cllr Jim Moore spoke of the significance of the hall for the local community and on behalf of Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board.
He said its importance in terms of enhancing the education opportunities for people in south Wexford could not be overstated.
Cllr Moore said the origins of Bridgetown Vocational College lay with the technical school in the AOH Hall and Doyle's yard. He said that without the dedication and hard work of those involved in lobbying for a school in the hall the current facility, which is synonymous with the village, might not have come about.
He acknowledged the record of excellence enjoyed by the modern-day school and said that success story began 'in very humble beginnings' within the walls of the AOH hall.
The fact the building is part of the fabric of the village and is regularly used for meetings and social events was emphasised on the night as those present were told that the intrinsic links between it and everything that goes on the village was underlined by the fact that rehearsals for the Tops took place there.
In addition to being the venue that sowed the seeds of education in the village the hall was also at the heart of the creative hub of activity that led to the Tops success 30 years ago.
Cllr Moore said it was fitting that the hall is still used a for a variety of uses today and is as important now as it was when it first opened 100 years ago.
Friday night's celebration saw former pupils of the school gathering together to renew acquaintances and friendships and recall fond memories of their time in the facility.
One of those involved with organising Friday's event, Seamus O'Keeffe, said it was nice that three separate anniversaries were marked.
'The hall was built in 1917 and opened the following year,' he said.
'It's been at the heart of the village ever since,' he added.
Mr O'Keeffe commented 'there is a lot of activity in the hall now'.
Those present were told that in winning the county title 30 years ago the Tops group had developed a special one-hour version of its full two-hour parish production.
Members of the group were also present on Friday night and they helped cut a cake, depicting the AOH hall, that was specially commissioned for the occasion.
Those in attendance were treated to slices of the cake and refreshments following the formalities and there was also music entertainment on the night. It was a great night of celebration for a thriving, successful community.