Although the National Schools Board was founded in 1831 to provide primary education in Ireland it was not until 1865 that the first national school opened in St. Patrick’s Parish. The school was located to the rear of St. Patrick’s Church, a church that had been raised with funds given by the Harrold Family, a local hotelier. In 1865 the parish priest was Patrick Meehan, he remained in the parish until 1890.
The school itself comprised of three large rooms in which both boys and girls were taught. The boys and girl entered the school for different sides of the church. The boys had two classrooms even though it was only boys from first class upwards that were taught separately to the girls. While the girls shared their one large room with the mixed juniors students at one end of the room and the older girls at the other end. The two groups being separated by a square in the centre of the room which the teachers occupied.. There were no desks in the school and the children kept their book on their laps. Later a second classroom was added which the junior students who went home at two were taught. The senior girl students were taught basic cooking skills on a range on a Thursday afternoon. The school was heated by an open fire, the turf was supplied by the students.
The new school was built further up the Dublin Road in an area known The Pound as in 1915, though it was not officially opened until 1st February 1916. It was built to the same blueprint as the majority of national schools of that era. It was also split into a boys and girls school with separate named entrances for each.
In 1916 teachers in the girls school were: Mrs. Seoirse Clancy (Principal), Miss McCarthy O’Sullivan and Mrs. Sheehan. The boys teachers were Mr. McMahon (Principal) and Mr.Coleman.
Mrs Seoirse Clancy (Molly Killeen) was the wife of George Clancy who was Mayor of Limerick in 1921, after whom Clancy Strand is named. He was shot and killed at his front door by the Black and Tans on the 7th March 1921. The bullet holes can still be seen today in the walls of his house on Clanccy Strand. Molly Clancy was shot in the hand during the incident.
The girls who transferred to the new school to enter 6th Class in 1915 were:
- Sarah “Sissie” Barrett (Mrs. Costelloe), 31 Clare Street. She was about 11 in 1915. Her parents were Patrick and Bridget Barrett, her father worked as a railway porter which he had done so from at least 1901 until 1911. She had at least 9 siblings, most of whom were older than her.
- Margaret “May” Byrnes (Mrs. Edwards), Old Singland Road. Her parents were Francis Byrnes and Mary Kate Lawlor, her father worked as a Pork Butcher and Farmer. She had at least 3 siblings. She was about 11 in 1915
- Bridget “Bridgie” Clancy, Lower Park, she was about 13 in 1915. Her parents were Edward and Nora Clancy, her father worked as a farmer. She has at least 3 siblings.
- Margaret “Madge” O’Connor (Mrs Dooley), Pennywell. Married James Dooley in 1925.
- Johanne “Hannie” Cross (Mrs.Hannan), Rhebogue, Lower Park. she was about 13 in 1915. Her parents were John and Kate Cross, her father worked as Farmer and Mill Labourer. She had at least 10 siblings.
- Lillian “Lil” Dalton, 5 Clare Street (Mrs McDermott), she was about 14 in 1915. Her parents were James and Annie Dalton, her father worked as a Clerk Electricity Works. She had at least 10 siblings.
- Maire Danagher, Pennywell (Mrs McNamara), she was about 12 in 1915. In 1911 she was staying with her uncle in Chapel Lane.
- Josephine “Josie” Foley, Cassidy Lane, Back Clare Street. She was about 13 in 1915. Her parents were Christopher and Ellen Foley, her father worked as a Corporation Labourer. She had at least 7 siblings.
- Frances Holland, Clare Street. She was about 11 in 1915. Her parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Holland, her father worked as a Clerk. She had one sister Mary.
- May Kirby, Rutland Street. She was about 11 in 1915. Her parents were Timothy Kirby and Agnes McNamara, her father worked as a Yarn Maker. She had at least two siblings.
- Hanora “Nora” Laffan (Mrs HcHugh), Dublin Road. She was about 12 in 1915. Her parents were Patrick and Margaret Laffan, her father was a General Labourer. She has at least 7 siblings.
- Sarah McNamara (Mrs. McNamara), Lower Park. Shae was about 13 in 1915. Her parents were Michael and Mary McNamara, her father worked as Small Farmer and Agricultural Labourer. She had at least 8 siblings.
- Annie Doherty, Pennywell. She was about 11 in 1915. Her parents were Michael and Mary Doherty, her father worked as a Carman. She had at least 12 siblings.
- Kitty Ryan (Mrs.Doherty), Clare Street. She was about 13 in 1915. Her parents were Martin and Mary Ryan, her father was a Publican. She was an only child.
- Bridget Shanny (Mrs.Doyle), Lower Park. She was about 14 in 1915. Her parents were John and Mary Shanny, her father worked as a Farmer. She had at least 4 siblings.
The first junior students, these would have been children aged about 5 year, into the new school were:
May Brennan, Canal Bank – Michael Daly, Pennywell – William Dunne, Pennywell – Robert Glouster, Clare Street – John Hayes, Pennywell – Alphonsus Kirby, Patrick Street – William Koyce, New Road Singland – Michael Lawlor, Rhebogue – Annie McDonagh, Clare Street – Michael Mack, Rhebogue – Patrick McMahon, Canal Bank – Paddy McMahon, Singland – Mary Mulqueen, Groody – Nellie Mulqueen, Groody – Mary Ryan, New Road Singland – James Ryan, Singland – Annie Shanny, Lower Park – Michael Shanny, Lower Park – Esther Slattery, Singland
In 1954 with the development of Garryowen and the influx of new pupils two extra classrooms, tow cloakrooms and two teachers toilets were added. At this time the outside toilet was also removed. By 1960 the school had become increaingly overcrowded and even the cloakrooms were decked out with desks to accommodate students. Some of the boys classes were also being held in the scout hall on the hill behind the school.
Today the girls only use this school and the boys have a newer school located across the road which was built in 1965. The new school cost £57,200 to build and consisted of eight classrooms, a principals office and a staff room, as well as a full assembly hall and stage area.
On 30 November 1966 the teachers role and their student number for the new boys school was as follows:
6th Class – Taghg O’Ceallaigh (Principal) – 31 pupils
5th Class – Denis Kelly – 49 pupils
4th Class – Gearóid O’Tiarniagh – 50 pupils
3rd Class – Pat Kearney – 54 pupils
2nd Class – Tim Lehane – 51 pupils
1st Class – Helen Guinan – 46 pupils
Seniors – Siobhan Bn Uí Chriagáin – 42 pupils
Juniors – Helen Nolan – 38 Pupils.
Many of the students were Shanny‘s from Park.