Gorey duo are the face of new €1 anniversary stamp
TWO Gorey Community School students are the face of the new €1 commemorative stamp from An Post celebrating 50 years of second level education in Ireland.
Last Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the then Minister for Education, Donogh O’Malley, announcing plans for second-level education throughout Ireland and to mark the milestone An Post issued a commemorative stamp on the anniversary.
The stamp, designed by leading designer Ger Garland with photography by Alan Betson, features Lauren Dench and Michael Duke two students of Gorey Community school, the largest second level school in the country.
A First day Cover, designed to accompany the stamp, includes a portrait of O’Malley who served as Minister for Education from 1966 until his death in 1968.
Lauren and Michael are both sixth year students at Gorey Community School and principal Michael Finn said that the duo were chosen randomly over the summer.
‘The news that two students from GCS would feature on the commemorative stamp was relayed to us during the summer and obviously there were no students here at the time as they were all on holidays.
‘We then chose two students from the school whom we felt were good ambassadors of the school. We wanted to pick sixth year students to signify that their education with us was coming to a close.
‘Lauren and Michael are both good upstanding role models for students and very good ambassadors for the school. They were delighted to be picked to represent the school and know it is a huge honour.’
Lauren who hails from Ballygarrett and Michael who comes from Mount Alexander in Gorey were a popular choice for the stamp.
Mr Finn said that in addition to being a great honour for Michael and Lauren it was a great honour for Gorey Community School.
‘We were really happy to be chosen. It is a great recognition for the school as both the largest second level school in the country and also the diversification that is seen here.
‘As a community school there is a diverse student population here which embodies the importance aspect of education and the importance of diversification. We have students here of all abilities and social backgrounds and there is a wonderful mix of people.
‘Being such a large school enables us to support that diversification’, he said.
With just under 1,600 students enrolled in the school Gorey Community School is the largest community school in the country.
Donogh O’Malley joined the Fianna Fail cabinet as Minister for Health following the General Election of 1966. He replaced Patrick Hillery as Minister for Education one year later and acted immediately to introduce the recommendations of an official Department report of the education system.
Shortly after his appointment he announced that from 1969 education to Intermediate Certificate level would be free.
It is widely accepted that the introduction of free second level education changed the face of modern Ireland fundamentally. Reports of the time indicate that about a third of all children finished primary school were dropping out of education altogether. At fifteen years of age fewer than 50 per cent were still in full time education. By age sixteen, only 36 per cent were still at school.
Another reforms initiated by Minister O’Malley was the extension of the school transport scheme. The commemorative stamp and First day Cover (FDC) are available from main post offices, from the stamp counters at Dublin’s GPO or online at www.irishstamps.ie
Lauren Dench and Michael Duke, pupils of Gorey Community School who feature on a stamp.