Our School

Scoil Choluim, Ballyheerin 

Ballyheerin NS is a small rural primary school located on the west side of the Fanad Peninsula in North Donegal. The school opened in 1913. The school celebrated its 100th birthday in 2013.

Ballyheerin NS caters for children from Ballyheerin and its surrounding area, better known as “In between the waters”.  The school is under Catholic Patronage but has a large population of the Church of Ireland community attending the school and the school caters for both religions.

Ballyheerin NS has a current enrolment of 24 children and two classroom teachers. Children from Junior Infants to 2nd class are educated in the junior classroom. Children from 3rd to 6th class are educated in the senior classroom.  Múinteoir Roisín, provides special  education to our pupils on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The three teachers of our school hold Bachelor of Education degrees and are highly experienced in delivering the National Curriculum of Ireland for primary aged pupils.

Ballyheerin NS has a supportive Board of Management and a very active Parents’ Association. The school is also supported by the local community.


Ms. Leanne Duffy: Principal & Senior Class Teacher

Mrs. Gráinne Corry: Deputy Principal & Junior Class Teacher

Mrs. Roisín McCauley: Special Education Teacher 

Ms. Hazel Alexander : Special Needs Assistant 
Mrs. Fidelma Heraghty: School Secretary
Mr. Damien O’ Doherty: Caretaker
Fr. Pat Mc Garvey: Chairperson




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Leanne Duffy

-Designated Liasion Person (DLP)

-Principal & Senior Class Teacher

Leanne Duffy graduated from Marino Institute of Education & Trinity College, Dublin after four years of study. Leanne began her career in Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua, Kiltiernan and was heavily involved in the opening and establishment of this new school. She then moved to Scoil an Duinnínigh in North County Dublin where she taught various class levels and worked as a Special Education Teacher. Leanne also worked overseas teaching English as a foreign language. She spent a year teaching fifth class in Gaelscoil Bhun Cranncha  before becoming principal of Ballyheerin National School in September 2019.  Leanne is passionate about helping children to discover and develop their own skills and interests as well as instilling a sense of resilience and well-being in her pupils.



Gráinne Corry
-Deputy Designated Liaison Person (DDLP)
– Assistant  Principal  & Junior Class Teacher
Gráinne Corry trained in the Froebel College of Education & Trinity College Dublin. She took up her position as Junior Class Teacher in Ballyheerin NS in September 2005. She spent three years teaching in Australia from September 2011 – August 2014. Gráinne returned to Ballyheerin NS in September 2014 and is currently working as Junior Class Teacher. Gráinne is a fantastic visual artist and leads our choir and music performances. Gráinne’s  beautiful singing voice can be heard in the corridors of our school every day and would make you stop in your tracks!






Fidelma Heraghty– School Secretary
Fidelma Heraghty grew up in the Ballyheerin area. She attended Ballyheerin NS as a child. Fidelma has had many jobs over the years.  She started work as our school cleaner in our school. Fidelma took up the position of School Secretary    in Ballyheerin in January 2013. Fidelma’s organisation and effiency is second to none and  she ensures the smooth running of our school office.                                                                                  






Roisín McCauley-Special Education Teacher                                                 

Roisín graduated with a B.Ed from St. Patrick’s College in Dublin in 2003. She started her teaching career in a senior boys school in Ballyfermot and moved onto Our Lady of Mercy in Kells in 2006, followed by two years in Ballyjamesduff in Cavan.
She moved home to Donegal with her family in 2010 where she taught in a variety of settings. She has taught at all class levels including SEN, Speech and Language and the junior and senior Autism classes. She started her SET position in Ballyheerin in 2017 where her hours were shared between three other local schools. She is now spends every Tuesday and Thursday with us where she believes in nurturing each individual child so that they can reach their full potential.
Múinteoir Roisín has enjoyed the variety of teaching environments she has taught in and credits all this experience to making her into the teacher she is today.





Our school uniform

Wine Round Neck Sweatshirt
White Polo Shirt
Plain Navy Tracksuit Bottoms (no logos) or knee length Navy shorts (summer term)
Comfortable flat shoes

Wine Round Neck Sweatshirt
White Polo Shirt
Plain Navy Tracksuit Bottoms (no logos) or Navy skirt knee length Navy shorts (summer term)
Comfortable flat shoes

Senior classes: Homework is given out on Monday and should be handed up by Friday. We have assessments on Friday mornings
Junior classes: homework is given out on Monday and should be handed up on Friday. Children have different reading every night.
The children do not have homework for the weekend.

School Books
Junior Infants – 2nd class €50 per child
3rd – 6th class €55 per child
Child Protection contacts:
Designated Liaison Person (DLP) : Leanne Duffy
Deputy DLP : Gráinne Corry
Local Garda Station: Milford: 074 9153060
HSE Emergency call: 1850 24 1850
Social Work Dept,
Millenium Court,
Pearse Rd.
074 91 23672
074 9123770

Green Flag




Our Green Flag journey began in April 2012. The teachers and children decided to take more responsibility for our rubbish and waste.

We started by inviting the whole school community to our school one Saturday morning to give the school a spring clean, inside and out. Teachers, children, parents and locals worked hard and tidied up the school. This was followed by lemonade and biscuits!Our next task was to bring our Spring Clean Up outside of the school grounds. Again, we invited the whole school community and we headed towards the local shore, Ballyheerin Shore , on the banks of Mulroy Bay. This time, we had tractors and trailors to help with clearing the rubbish from the shore. It was a very successful day. The children even made some No Dumping notices for the shore, to encourage the locals to take care of their environment. This was a very successful day, both for the environment and socially for all “In between the waters”.

Up until this time, the children brought all of their lunch rubbish home with them. All other rubbish was bagged as general waste. In September 2012, we started to focus and evaluate the rubbish within the school. A Green school committee was established. The committee was made up of children with one teacher monitoring, directing and acting as facilitator. We purchased a compost bin. We purchased small bins for each classroom – one bin for general waste, one bin for recycling and one bin for composting.

A Green school rota was created, which included all of the children in the school. This rota included many jobs which the children had to complete each day before going home. These jobs included – collecting general waste, collecting recycling, collecting compost & depositing into compost bin outside, wash & squash of recycling, litter monitoring outside and inside, closing blinds, shutting down computers, turning off all switches, ensuring all water taps turned off, ensuring all lights turned off.

The children showed great inititive and worked very well everyday completing their tasks. They had monthly meetings, completed surveys, recorded their findings, made recommendations and monitored our recycling, reducing and reusing.

After working very hard for almost two years , Ballyheerin NS was granted its Green Flag for Litter and Waste in May 2014. We proudly raised our Green Flag in June 2014.

We continue our Recycling, Reducing, Reusing ethos.

Kid's Corner



When Ballyheerin N.S. opened in 1913, it replaced the existing school, Ballyhurke N.S. (Coshia). This school was opened in January 1866, on the estate of Burton Irwin, with Neil Mc Bride appointed teacher. Although the school transferred (beside John and Mary O’Doherty’s house) in 1879, it retained its original name. the walls of the original school can still be seen near Cashelmore.
James Mc Gonigle was appointed teacher in 1879, followed by Margaret Blaney in December 1888. Hugh O’Doherty from Glenvar (John O’Doherty’s grandfather) was appointed Principal in July 1903. The school was located upstairs and the teacher and his family lived downstairs.
Across the road in the same townland, Ballyheerin (2) school was in operation until grants were withdrawn in March 1916. Miss Rebecca peoples, Doocarrick, was the last teacher in the school. This building was originallythe home of the Wilson sisters, who had a Soup Kitchen during the Famine, handing out rations of meat and bowls of soup to the hungry and needy in the area.With the closure of Ballyheerin (2) school in 1916, the building operated as a kindergarten school called the Coast and Island School. Teachers here included Annie and Margaret Mc Kemey, Milltown and Beth Morrow for four years until its closure in 1944.
With the opening of Ballyheerin NS in 1913, Hugh O’ Doherty, son of the above Hugh, was appointed its first Principal.
Other members of the Teaching staff in Ballyheerin NS include:
• Mrs. Elizabeth McLaughlin
• Master Reilly from Co. Longford – lodged in McLaughlin’s upper house
• Master Crawley from Co. Cork – also lodged in McLaughlin’s
• Master Cunningham from South Donegal
• Miss. Bridget McLaughlin was employed as Works Mistress – teaching sewing, knitting and embroidery
• Master Gallagher
• Master Hugh Friel
• Mrs. Roisin O’Doherty
• Master Eddie McGee
• Mrs. Peggy McElwaine, 1960 – 1964
• Mrs. Mary McClafferty, 1962 – 1965 – lodged in Gallaghers, Tully
• Mrs. Maire Friel, 1965 – 1993
• Mrs. Maria McElwaine
• Mrs. Bridie Doherty
• Miss. Niamh Connolly
• Master Noel Rodden
• Miss. Mairead McLaughlin
• Mrs. Ann Marie Duffy
• Miss. Sheila Galway
• Mrs. Brighidin Hawke
• Miss. Grainne Doherty
• Miss. Aoife McElwaine
The school was an important meeting place in the community, with bazaars and dances being held in the winter months. During Lent, Master Eddie McGee had ‘pictures’ in the school. All that was required was a white sheet on the wall to act as a screen, while Phonsie McElwee, Milford, provided the Projector.
Before the Church of the Immaculate Conception opened in August 1955, the parishioners Between the Waters had to make the journey ‘Over the Boat’ to attend Mass and other religious services in St. Columba’s Church, Massmount. It was a great relief therefore when Bishop McNeely granted permission for Mass to be celebrated in the school in Ballyheerin from December 1950. Fr. McDaid was driven round to the school by Hugh O’Donnell, Ballykinard.
John Griffin, Seamount, was the contractor for the building of Ballyheerin NS. The cost was £560-16-6, and materials for this project would have been shipped from Scotland to Leatbeg Pier on the Ganiamore. John also built schools in Leatbeg, Doaghbeg, Drumhalla and on Arranmore Island. His grandson, John, wife Evelyn and family Michael, Lorraine, John Thomas and Emma, live in the family home in Seamount, where John, who has inherited the talent and skills of his grandfather, is a willing contributor to his community when expertise is required.

The Good Old Days written by Mary O’Donnell
In the year 1913 Ballyheerin National School was opened. It was built on land donated by my late father, Michael O’ Doherty. Prior to that the schoolchildren attended upstairs in the house of my father’s parents, and were taught by my Grandad while the family lived downstairs.
Hugh O’ Doherty, my uncle, was the first teacher in Ballyheerin NS. He died quite young. Other teachers included Mrs. Elizabeth Mc Laughlin, Róisín O’ Doherty (Ned), Master Hugh Friel, Mary Mc Clafferty, now Mrs. Mc Gettigan, Peggy Mc Elwaine, Maria Mc Elwaine, Máire Friel, Bridie O’ Doherty, Sheila Galway and Master Eddie Mc Gee. Róisín O’Doherty taught the junior pupils and also taught sewing and knitting to the girls.
We had Medical Examinations once a year, eyes tested, throats – open your mouth and say 99! We also had Religious Examinations which we dreaded. Fr. Boyle left no stone unturned. I remember Master Friel having charts on the wall relating to the Commandments.
We had open fires for heat. ‘’Sally’’ rods acted as canes and they were to be had in Dad’s garden. The boys who cut them put a ‘’wee nick’’ with the pen-knife, and when the hands had to be held out the cane would break. Some would even disappear up the chimney – then it was off to the garden again! I was sent out to Kate’s (the shop) every day for the daily newspaper for Master Friel.
For a few years, Mass was said in the school until the new Church of the Immaculate Conception was completed in August 1955. Bazaars were held in the school in the winter, sand bags, wheel of fortune, ping pong etc., articles for the sale and 7 raffles. After the bazaar there would be a dance and some of the dancers were expert at Shoe the Donkey, and the old wooden floor got some tramping! There were also concerts staged with a stage erected at the fireplace in the Master’s side and the partition pulled over. The school would be packed. Everyone enjoyed the concerts immensely. Master Friel made a poster advertising the concert – this one comes to mind –
On Easter Sunday full of eggs
See and get upon your legs
Come and see us in the school
Otherwise you’d be a fool.
We open up at eight o’ clock
And through the doors all to us flock.

The schoolyard was divided in two by a high wall. The half nearest the Chapel was the boys side, and the other half was the girls. The boys played football and the girls played rounders in a much bigger space then than now. Sometimes the boys would not give the girls back their ball and vice versa.
Water from the well was fetched daily for drinking, no water on tap. Toilets were at the top of the yard. Trees were growing inside the wall on the ‘’Old Lane’’ side. I well remember jumping from the wall and aiming for a branch in order to swing from it.

Sadly, the population of Between the Waters is dwindling and there are now just nineteen pupils. I remember up to 90 – 100 pupils when I was there. Some had to walk from Glinsk, Umricam etc. (four miles to school and four home), some in the bare feet, and with no cars to take them to school and home again. They had to walk should it be raining, snowing or stormy.
Today we have a beautiful bright and remodelled school. Many years ago it was just a two roomed structure with a folding partition, and entrance to both senior and junior side via a porch. To graduate from the Primary school we had to do the sixth class exam, which is now done away with. Anyone going to Secondary school was given grinds in algebra and maths by Master Friel.
Memories of Ballyheerin NS written by Gertrude McGee

Ballyheerin school – as you sat on your spacious, grassy playground, surrounded by leafy trees – that is how I will remember you. Your tall, square paned windows, gave ample light to our classrooms. In summer, we filled your two large coal-burning grates with fresh fern and in winter these same grates provided us with a glowing fire.
To help supplement the heating grant, a céilí was a frequent event during the winter months. On Friday evening, the desks were lined up neatly against the walls, and the partition was folded back. A chair was placed on one of the tables as a suitable seat for the musician, and of course all books and copies were tidied away. The senior pupils were given a free pass for their services, so everything was now in readiness.
As darkness fell, the oil lamps were alight and the young men and women began to arrive. Every man wore a suit with a crisp, freshly-ironed shirt – there were no sloppy t-shirts or baggy jeans in those days. The girls’ pretty dresses of course added lustre to the scene. The boards soon echoed to the Waves of Tory, the Siege of Ennis and one or two old-time waltzes, thrown in for good measure. We, the pupils rendered a little chorus while the dancers rested, or a local singer sometimes entertained. If those old walls could speak, they would surely tell of romance that began at a céilí in Ballyheerin NS and ended in happy marriage.
However, the time arrived to pack my case for boarding school, so it was some years before I sat in one of the old familiar desks again. In later years, as a member of the committee to raise funds for the erection of our church, I found myself back in Ballyheerin NS at our weekly meetings. This was just a few years before our school was modernised.
I hope that you enjoyed my little reminiscences, and that all pupils will leave Ballyheerin NS with many golden memories.
Early Days at Ballyheerin NS written by Eunan Kerr

I was taught by Mrs. Elizabeth Mc Laughlin, and I was often sent to Lowertown to get the teacher’s lunch. I had a tin flask with a handle, and Katie and Maggie Mc Laughlin would have the tea ready in the Upper House. I always got something for taking up the tea. Other jobs at school included gathering sticks for lighting the fire, and going to John Den’s well for water.
We played football in Mc Gee’s field behind the school, and a few other fields. We would happily kick a ball till it got dark.
When my elder sisters were going away, I would accompany them to the Moross Ferry and leave them at the bus in Ballina. Cattle too were brought across the Mulroy on the way to the Fair in Kerrykeel. They had a mark on them and were left in a field overnight. The following morning they were walked to the Fair in Kerrykeel – and if, unfortunately, they were not sold, they had to be walked home again!

They sing of Fanad’s bonny hills
It’s fields and valleys green,
It’s lovely vales and misty dales
It’s lakes and winding streams.
There’s one spot there none can compare
By the lovely Mulroy shore,
It stands so blessed in Fanad west
The hill called Cashelmore.

From that hill so steep,600 feet
Above Mulroys sparkling tide,
The angler finds with hook and line
The fish that gently glide.
On its craggy crest the wild birds nest,
The lark above doth soar.
Search Ireland round, none can be found
To equal Cashelmore.

Then westwood gaze through the morning haze
At lovely Tory Isle,
Where the last long look was often took
By many a poor exile,
When forced to roam across the foam
To far Columbia shore,
They gazed with pride on the green hillside
Of lovely Cashelmore.

Then rising high against the sky
Lough Salt and dark Glenveagh,
Doe Castle grand by Sheephaven strand
Where Mc Sweeney once held sway.
Tall Muckish blue and Errigal too,
The Forelands and Gweedore.
Search Ireland round none can be found
To equal Cashelmore.

On the eastern side over Mulroy tide
Knockalla hill you’ll see,
The lovely peaks of Inishowen,
The fort at old Dunree.
Portsalon grand by Stocker strand,
Along Lough Swilly shore.
Those sights so gay on a summers day
You will see from Cashelmore.

Now to conclude and finish
I now lay down my pen.
But one request I humbly ask
Of many a faithful friend,
If ‘ere your wandering footsteps trot
The lovely Mulroy shore,
Then make your way on a summers day
To the top of Cashelmore.

No sight’s so grand throughout the land
Like lovely Cashelmore.