Knockrooskey NS. Image -
Knockrooskey NS. Westport, Co. Mayo
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Knockrooskey National School

I know a great many Parents who struggle every single day to ensure their children have access to the education they deserve no matter their ability. I read about their struggles every day, I hear about their struggles often as many of my own friends who have children with Special Needs have to go to unspeakable lengths to have their children’s voices heard and rights acknowledged.

I remember a time before Conor had started school. We had no idea what was the best thing to do for him. At that point in his life he was afraid to leave the house, would get physically sick if he had to go anywhere new, would have anxiety attacks going into new places so we always kept him in a Special Needs Pushchair so he felt there was a “barrier” between his personal space and where he would be  physically at that time. I just remember being extremely anxious and worried as we tried to decide on his behalf where would be best for him to go to school.Autism Awareness_04

Just like all parents I wanted what was best for Conor but I had no idea about Autism Units, Special Needs Schools, Mainstream Schools with an SNA. I felt huge pressure personally as even though Conor was not and still isn’t speaking I could see he was very intelligent but would struggle socially and with communication no matter where he went to school.


Fate brought the right answer. Conor has Special Needs but over the years has struggled with some medical issues too so we have frequently stayed in Mayo General Hospital in order for him to access treatment. He has a wonderful Consultant in the Hospital who looks after him when he stays there or attends routine out – patient visits. She has a wealth of knowledge and expertise on Autism together with related conditions. Autism AwarenessH

At one of Conor’s outpatient visits one day (close to his 4th Birthday) she asked had we plans yet for where we would send Conor to school in September. We told her we had no idea where would be best for him to help him thrive and to have the best possible chance at a progressive life. She told us about Knockrooskey National School (NS) in Westport, that it was a fantastic Primary School, headed by Principal Kieran Geraghty. She said that if Conor was her son she would not have a second thought about it, she would send him to Knockrooskey NS, as they had a superb Autism Unit with Teachers and SNAs who all had a wealth of knowledge and experience with helping children with Autism to progress. It was Fate.

Kieran Geraghty

Principal Kieran Geraghty Image Source-
Principal Kieran Geraghty
Image Source-

Shortly afterward we met with Principal Kieran Gearghty. I remember leaving that first meeting with an overwhelming sense of HOPE that had previously been diminishing in the months prior as I panicked and worried about making the right decision. After that first meeting with Kieran, I knew Conor would be happy and by enrolling him in Knockrooskey NS my mind was at peace, as I knew we had made the right decision.

Principal Kieran together with his Staff have a collective wealth of knowledge and experience that I alone will never be able to match. There have been many times since Conor started in the Autism Unit that I have not been able on my own to help Conor with new challenges he has faced. I remember at one point he was causing himself physical harm by biting aggressively on his  hands. I knew it was to do with Sensory Processing Disorder yet I had no idea at first how to help him. I called the school to ask for advice and as usual they had a handle on it already and advised me about Oral Sensory issues and had already given Conor a “Chewy” which has helped to stop him hurting himself but also provide that vital sensory relief.

Knockrooskey NS Image source-
Knockrooskey NS
Image source-

Now when new challenges come up that Conor has not faced before I don’t instinctively panic, if I can’t find a solution myself I know that the school is only a phone call away. That is one thing I love about Knockrooskey NS, it is one of the most friendly and open school’s I have ever known. You can call the school at any time if you need advice. Conor takes the bus to school every day to and from but most Fridays I pick him up so we can have some special time in town together with his Nanny. I know without even looking that Kieran will be outside the school, speaking to the parents, directing traffic to ensure everyone’s safety, even helping the children cross the road safely. There is a very real sense of Community about the school, it’s a home away from home for Conor. He waits at the door now in the morning for the school bus to come bring him off for another day of fun and learning.

Conor looking out for Baby Jack
Conor looking out for Baby Jack

Sense of Community

That sense of community is literal when you see how cohesively Knockrooskey NS works on a day to day basis. There is no divide visible or invisible between the children who have Autism and those who do not. As Conor progresses at school he will be able to attend mainstream classes sitting with children his own age who are not on the Spectrum. He will be able to partake in Mainstream lessons he is able for. I remember that first meeting with Kieran, he showed us around the rest of the school and I was taken aback by how bright it all was how beautiful all the rooms looked with all the lovely Art Work from the children displayed proudly on the walls.

Now with Jack having been diagnosed with Autism aswell I have noticed that although obviously I am upset and I have moments of devastation at what the future may hold, I haven’t lost that sense of HOPE I always cling to. I realize that is because of Knockrooskey NS. It is almost as though Conor is paving the way for Baby Jack.x 12108862_903667029710170_9075678585233652979_n

I see how Conor has changed since he started in Knockrooskey NS, I see progress in him every single day. He likes to go out more now, doesn’t mind interacting in social settings as much, he ALWAYS has a huge smile on his face when he comes off the bus in the evening after another great day at school. He is a completely different child to how he was before he started there. I think he shares the same HOPE I have, because his needs are now being met. He is learning everyday. his fabulous teacher Noelle and his SNAs challenge him to progress. They know how to work with him to make him work for himself, to become independent, to help him on his life journey.

Baby Jack with his new Bib
Baby Jack

I know now with baby Jack he will attend Knockrooskey NS, he will progress and he too will live a happy life just like his big brother Conor.x

I do realize how lucky we are to have found Knockrooskey NS, to know Principal Kieran Geraghty, to have brilliant Teachers like Noelle and Conor’s SNAs in his life. When I see how others struggle to have their children’s voices heard, to have that vital access to education for their children, to have their children’s rights acknowledged I realize how lucky my children are and I am forever thankful to Knockrooskey NS. Autism

There are many brilliant National Schools in all of Mayo but for me personally as a Mother of two boys with Special Needs I cannot recommend Knockrooskey National School’s Autism Unit highly enough. It has quiet literally changed Conor’s life for the better and I will always be thankful.xx

One of the focal points of my Blog is to help raise Awareness about Autism and related topics. I have not been asked to write this post. This is an honest opinion post I wanted to write as a Mother of two boys with Autism, to give praise where praise is due, as all too often I hear, read and see the struggles of other families who do not have that vital access to brilliant Schools just like Knockrooskey NS.

Well by now you know what my personal opinion of Knockrooskey NS is. As Conor is not able to speak just yet, I will let his most recent school photo do the talking for him, so he can tell you for himself what he thinks of his schoolxx


If you want to find out more about Knockrooskey National School you can call them on 098 35276, email them on or visit their own website here.






  • Marian Lavin November 18, 2019 at 1:05 am

    I loved finding this story. My family is from Killkelly and I live in Los Angeles and work as an SLP with autistic children.

    • Amanda Mc Guinness November 30, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you so much Marian. I cannot say enough good things about Knockrooskey. They have literally changed my sons lives. x

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