About Us

Scoil Cholmcille, better known locally as Cloughfin National School, is a three teacher school situated in Cloughfin, Ballindrait, Lifford, Co. Donegal. We currently have 36 pupils.

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Ms. Fiona Farry - Principal

Ms. Bernie McEleney -  Deputy Principal (acting)
Ms. Sarah Long - S.E.T. Teacher (for Mrs.N. Crumlish)
Ms. Sandra Stewart - Secretary (part-time)
Ms. Catriona O Neill - Cleaner
Mr. Neville Denniston - Caretaker (part-time)
Ms. Shauna Kirk - Special Needs Assistant
Ms.Mary McGranaghan - Special Needs Assistant

Board Of Management (elected 2019)

Mr. Pius Doherty Chairperson

Fr. Colm O Doherty

Ms. Fiona Farry

Ms. Bernie McEleney

Mr. Michael Hegarty

Ms. Anthea Hegarty

Mr. Patsy Donnelly

Mrs. Bernadette Woods

History of Our School:

St. Colmcille N.S., is proud of its glorious and ancient tradition. The nearby 'Beltony Stone Circle' testifies that this area was of importance in the pre-Christian period. Later during the Christian monastic period, St. Colmcille, whom the school is called after established a settlement near that pagan place of worship.as was the custom "the questhouse end". Tradition has it that on his way to Aíleach, St. Patrick blessed the holy well at Liskey. The Cistercians under Cearnach as Abbot established a monastery and focal point of learning at Ballymonaster in the  area of the old graveyard. Monks at that time probably went from house to house teaching and praying in the locality. The traditional 'stations' probably developed from their practice. In 1228 some monks were recalled to Assaroe and Ballymonaster was reduced to a grange. Those who were instructed by the monks passed on this skill and learning to the future hedge school teachers during this time of relative peace.

After the 'Flight of the Earls' 1607, religion and education was supressed. The Bardic schools were dispersed and the ensuing 'Plantation of Ulster' saw the confiscation of the monastic institutions.It was impossible to maintain a system of schooling until the 'Relief Act of 1782' relaxed the laws against education.In 1791 the old church at Murlog was built at a cost of 100 guineas. Hedgeschools encouraged by the Catholic clergy abounded and continued until 1829 when Catholic Emancipation was granted.

During this time, the local landlord, James Sinclair of Shanvalley Castle came upon such a hedge school at Cloughfin.He was impressed and offered a room in his own house for a school. In 1833 he granted a piece of land for a school "free gratis and forever" - still on the foundation stone This building still stands on Hegarty's land. The clasp of friendship may depict the excellent interdenominational spirit that always existed in this area. The school was shared by several faiths until 1965. We are proud of the areas association with Rev. James Porter, defender of tennant's rights and Rev Mc Farland Guy. 

In 1833 the building school measured 36x30 feet,one room with a fire at both ends and a porch in the middle. It was grant aided by £40 and accomadated 54 males and 39 females. Furniture was provided in 1834, a floor, shutters, toilets, and plastering in 1841. Patrick Bresland, Master of the old pay school was appointed ' the master'. He was replaced by Patrick Mc Gowan who died in 1846. Mr Lynch in 1847,during the famine had enrolment of 67 boys and 44 girls. After the famine,the enrolment was reduced to 18. John Sherdian and William Leonard taught from 1847 to 1855. James MC Kniff 1855-1857 was replaced by John Maguire until 1860. William Mc Devitt taught from 1862 for tghe following 16 years. during this time, Joseph Kelly was employed 1862-1970. A local man, Hugh Gallagher was in charge until 1898. the roll books record a large number of transfers/enrolment during this period due to employment in the local mills. In 1900 there were 65 children in the school under the headmaster John Marron who served in the school for 28 years. This free school on 01/047/1901 had 64 pupils- 64 R.C., 8 members of established church and 6 Presbyterians. During the tenure of John Harrington 1911-1943,there was no electricity, water was caried from the 'spout' across from Patsy O Hagan's and a pot bellied stove was installed in Miss Dunleavy's room.

During the war, the new school was built in 1943 and offically opened in 26/11/1944 by Bishop Farren at a cost of £3000. The first principal was Sean Brady assisted by Miss Dunleavy. The inspector on a visit wrote on 27/11/1944: "48 present, this is a release from the depressing conditions which teachers and puplis experienced in the old school built 1833".


Fr Flanagan with co-operation from the late  William Hegarty had piped water brought into the school. In 1951 Maurcie Sweeney N.T. took up mantle from S. Brady untill 1955. Danny Coyle was the next principal from 1955 until 1965 with Margaret Bonner as the Assistant Teacher.

Fr Frankie Lynch, O.P. remembers the big wall that divided the boys from the girls in 1961. Around this time, the late Clement Coghlín, T.D. served as Principal. S. Diver 1966--1973, Miss Ferry 1971-73, Sadie Mc Bride 1967 to 1971 kept the flame of learning burning. Miss Ferry became principal from 1973-77 when she became Mrs F. O'Donnell and returned home to Gweedore, N.Kelleher, nee Diver was the Assistant Teacher 1973 until 1992 with Jim Lynch, N.T., B.Ed.,as principal from 1977. There were various tempoary teachers until Níamh Crumlish arrived as Vice Principal in 2001. Both teachers have continued this ancient proud heritage and ethos since. The enrolment in 1977 was 55. Due to factors such as a smaller catchment area, family planning, close proximity to bigger school and town, lack of jobs, houses and facilities, the school suffered from falling enrolment. In fact, it became a one teacher school for a few years and fear of amalgamation was in the air. However, in 1994 the community with confidence and determination celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the new school with style,joy, confidence and determination.


A casual visit from the local inspector, Mr. Cheevers,in the year 2000 highlighted the need for better conditions and facilities for staff and pupils. the building was considered unsuitable for the new curriculum. This was the stimulus the principal , Mr Lynch needed to push for the necessary refurbishment. In May,2001 with the help from Tony Mcauley, OPW, approval of the School Board under the Chair of Rev. Ed. Kilpatrick, P.P., a plan was submitted to the Department. Approval to tender for urgent work of heatingand rewiring was given at the end of October. The campaign to refurbish and renovate began in earnest in February of 2002. The approval to tender for our extension arrived on 16th of May.

Joyful celebrations followed the Mass of Dedication celebrated by Fr. Kilpatrick on 5th of Dec 2002. Almost €13,000 the local contribution of 10% was handed over. This new extension provided a modern decorated school with larger classrooms,a staffroomcumoffice,new resource room and toilet block.The entire building had been renovated,painted,and refurbished. The grounds tarmaced,landscaped and repainted. Extra space was available to accomodate resources,a co-ordinator, ancillary staff, parents, medical personnel. The resource room will also accommodate teaching aids and in the future a computer suite. The new classroom was designed to double as community use after 3pm, a real community focal point.


Perhaps Fr.F.Lynch, O.P., in his email from Peru on 5/12/02 said it all- "Thank you for bringing Cloughfin into 21st Century. This dedication brings a bright new future for all my beloved people in Argory and surrounding townlands. It is my delight that this school will remain open for a long time to come."

Via former Principal Mr. James Lynch