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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Ballinkillen National School

1904 & 1909

Co. Carlow

Ballinkillen School 1904
Teachers and Pupils of Ballinkillen School in 1909

Ballinkillen National School

1850's map of Ballinkillen National School and RC Church.The Parish Priest of Dunleckney, Rev. M. Prendergast, built the school in Ballinkillen in 1810 with subscriptions of the Catholics, he contributed 50. The cost of building and furnishing the school was approximately 200. It is one of the oldest schools in continuous use in the country. A lease of the ground was given for ever by David La Touche to trustees for the use of the public. He also donated the rents of the two annual fairs of Slyguff for the support of the school where all the poor children of his estate and the vicinity could be educated. David La Touche was a member of the La Touche Bank in Dublin and his father was first Governor of the Bank of Ireland. It is recorded that during the Irish famine his father allowed what money might be needed to buy meal for the poor to be drawn from his bank, his sons carried on this tradition of charity.

Ballinkillen National School

Our school is one of the oldest working schools in Ireland. The school was built in 1810 on a site of one acre, given to the parish by Mr. C. LaTouche to serve as a chapel yard and a site for a Free School. The building cost of the school in 1810 was 200, a handsome sum in the early 1800s. The school was a two storey building – the ground floor room was a classroom and upstairs was where the Master lived. At the end of the 18th century the great majority of children were receiving their education in hedge schools. These schools derived their name from the habit of holding classes in the open air, often near hedges (for protection and shelter) during the summer. During the winter a landlord might provide a barn in which classes could be held. The curriculum of the hedge school was based, for the most part, on the "three Rs". By the mid-1820s it was estimated that close to a half-million children, four-fifths of whom were Catholics, were being taught in hedge schools. Due to a relaxation of the Penal Laws, in 1782, Catholics were enabled to establish schools and to educate their youth in literature and religion. The national school system was introduced in 1831. Ballinkillen N.S. appears to have been part of the national school system in 1861. In 1960 the extension called the "Masters Room" was added . The school was refurbished in 1988 at a cost of 56,000.

John Brennan was appointed Master in 1816. He was 39 years of age and is described as being of good character. There was no fixed salary for the school; the master received 10 annually for his attention both to the school and the chapel adjoining. School was held every day throughout the year except Sundays and holidays. Children were charged quarterly fees for the subjects they took - spelling cost 2s. 2d., writing 3s. 3d. and arithmetic 5s. 5d.

 In 1868, Patrick Brenan was appointed Principal. His son, Michael, joined the staff in 1908 and in 1911, Mai Griffin - later to become Mrs. Michael Brenan - was appointed. She taught in the school until 1955. Patrick Brenan died in 1914 and was succeeded by Michael who died in 1922. In 1922, Michael Lawler was appointed Principal. He was succeeded in 1929 by John McDonnell who retired in 1975. The new housing development close to the school was named McDonnell Park in his memory. In 1975, following the retirement of Mr Mc Donnell, Mr Kevin Cuddy was appointed Principal until he retired in 2008. He was succeeded by the present Principal, Ms Michelle Doorley.

 Changes to the School Building

In 1960, the extension which is now the principal' s room was added. The school was a three-teacher school at that time. In 1981 a fourth teacher was appointed. The cloakroom upstairs was used as a classroom until the first pre-fab room was built in 1983. When the fifth teacher was appointed in 1985, the play shed was used as a classroom pending the building of a new school. However, this plan was abandoned due to Government cutbacks. In 1986 the second pre-fab was installed. Further renovations were carried out in 1990 which improved conditions for both teachers and pupils. The main building was re-roofed and all interior and exterior walls were painted. The work was carried out by Eamon Lalor, Garryhill, with heating contractors McCarthy/Blanchfield of Gowran and Byrne Electrical of Carlow at a cost of 56,000.

In 1999 the number of pupils on roll decreased and the number of teachers again returned to four. The classroom downstairs in the old part of the building became a general – purpose room for P.E., drama and storage and library facilities. The Learning Support teacher also used it. In 2002 the DES gave sanction for a resource teacher to visit the school for eight hours a week. In the absence of any suitable place for the resource teacher to work it was decided to divide the general- purpose room so that both the Learning Support and Resource teachers would have a room each and the remaining section of the room could still be used for meetings, speech and drama etc. although it is now rather small. While this is not ideal as space here is limited it was agreed that it was the best solution available.


Ballinkillen CHURCH

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