Tarbert Comprehensive School is situated on the coast road a quarter of a mile west of the village of Tarbert in North Kerry. The 12 acre elevated site overlooks the catchment area to the West, East and South and has its back to the Shannon Estuary. The school was established in 1973 as an merger of the three existing schools in the area, St. Ita’s in Tarbert, Mr. Dore’s in Glin and Glin Vocational School. It was to cater for the children of the parishes of Loughill/Ballyhahill, Moyvane, Glin, Athea, Lenamore/Ballylongford and Tarbert itself.
When it opened its doors in September 1973 the school had an intake of 280 students with 18 teaching staff, 2 caretakers and one secretary. Since then numbers have continued to grow with a constant student enrollment of over 600. The school building has been extended twice to provide extra technical rooms, science laboratories, computer facilities and a stage. In spite of falling numbers in its own catchment area, the school is still growing and developing through increased enrollment from the wider North Kerry region. It is this growth, in defiance of a downward demographic trend, that has kept Tarbert Comprehensive School vibrant and in many ways unique.
The years have brought many changes but the ethos remains the same. The comprehensive ideal is inclusivity. The school is co-educational, catering for all ranges of ability, embracing all social groupings, offering the widest possible curriculum and open to all religious denominations. This ethos finds artistic expression in the school crest, a lighthouse underscored by the motto ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’ – ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’.
The lighthouse is a replication of the one which dominates the sea approach to Tarbert and is a symbol of light in darkness, a safe haven in troubled waters, ‘a solas treorach’, a guiding light.
Today, students, teachers, parents and management continue to play a significant role in shaping the future - a future that will be challenging and hopeful.