Four Church-owned primary schools are switching to non-denominational patronage models ahead of the new school year.
The schools in Kerry, Wexford and Roscommon had all been facing closure due to declining enrolments, with one in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry having just 14 pupils.
Although dioceses have previously transferred empty school buildings to non-denominational or multi-denominational patron bodies, this is the first time existing Catholic schools have been so transferred.
The schools changing to non-denominational models are Kilmanagh NS in Oulart, Co. Wexford, Lecarrow NS in Co. Roscommon and Tahilla NS and Scoil An Ghleanna in Co. Kerry, which will reopen under the patronage of the local Education and Training Board. The decision to hand over the Ballinskelligs school followed a suggestion from local parishioners, Fr Patsy Lynch PP said.