This was an important development for the area because it was the only 2nd level school except for the secondary top established by the Mercy Sisters in 1950 which provided education for girls only.
The original school was small by today’s standards. It consisted of 3 classrooms – kitchen, general class room and woodwork room with store attached. Beside the school a very ornate bicycle shed was built. The original buildings still stand and are currently in use as classrooms but the bicycle shed has found another use. At first the students (boys and girls) were prepared for the Day Vocational Certificate (Group Cert) and achieved excellent results. The range of subjects was limited to General subjects, Woodwork, Domestic Science and Typing. Following Group Cert, students left to take up employment, go into trades and farming.
Adult education classes at night were a very important element of education for people whose full time education finished at primary school. Many practical skills were thought at night.
At that time teachers had to be very versatile as many new teachers moved to “Greener Pastures” as soon as career opportunities arose elsewhere. These were difficult days but staff and students accepted the conditions and the school flourished.
Despite these difficulties, new subjects were added to the curriculum and students sat 2 exams, Group Cert in 2nd year and Intermediate Certificate in 3rd year. This continued until the 2 exams were amalgamated into the Junior Certificate in 1993.
The school has always been to the forefront in developing new courses and meeting new challenges. Under Mr Murtagh it was one of the first schools to develop a Transition year programme in 1967 in conjunction with the Dept. of Education. This was then called a Work Experience class because of the introduction of Work Experience into the curriculum which was unheard of at that time.
Under Mr Timothy O Mahony the school developed a gardening course – a joint venture between the college and Kilkenny Co Council. The practical work of the course is undertaken in Woodstock Gardens, Inistioge which are being restored. These PLC courses are to this day very important areas of education.
The Equestrian course and the Craft course brought students from all over Ireland and even from abroad to Thomastown which was a boost to the local economy because these students went into accommodation in the town.
Unfortunately this new school has proved too small already and pre-fabs are still in use where there is a sacred space, a library, a learning support room.
The school underwent a major refurbishment programme in 2005 which means that the facilities now are the most updated and modernised. These refurbished rooms were officially opened by Ms Mary Hanafin Minister for Education and Science in May 2005.
The school changed its name to Grennan College in 1996.
It’s a school which hasn’t stood still, it has always adapted and changed to meet the needs of the students of the changing world of work and, with its principal Mr William Norton and staff, faces the 21st century with the optimism and the enthusiasm to meet any new challenges.