The History of Education in Mayobridge 1832 – 2015
(Original text Gerry Quinn, adapted 2015)
A small slated cottage school was established by the National Board of Education in November 1832. This school was intended to replace the hedge school. The new school was sited near Mayo Chapel, now the Parochial Hall. Records show that in September 1836 the attendance at Mayo School was 103 boys and 48 girls. The master was Owen Fegan.
From 1832, up until the present school was built, the band room and, after 1862, the parochial hall served as locations for Mayo National Schools.
In the early 1920s, Masters O’Hagan and McGlinchey had classes in the band room. Pierce Fegan and later Sr. Mary Bonaventure taught in the Parochial Hall. In 1912, the Inspectors’ report commented, regarding the Girls’ School,
“Work is carried out in this school under unfavourable conditions, as the house is very old and hardly suitable…. The tone is fairly good and on the whole, the pupils are making fair progress. Needlework shows some improvement…. Equipment for manual instruction is still inadequate.”
The Scheme of Education in the early part of the century placed great emphasis on Reading, Composition, History, Geography and Arithmetic. For girls Needlework was an essential part of the school curriculum.
In 1923 there were 120 children attending the schools in Mayobridge and there were plenty of complaints regarding the state of the buildings. In September of that year Canon McGinnis wrote that he hoped to get work started soon on building a new school.
Due to legal technicalities, building work on a proposed new school was delayed and, with the existing school being considered unsafe, a temporary classroom, later called the Sodality Room, was built. This room, along with two rooms in the Convent, were used to accommodate the pupils pending the completion of the new school.
The new school was built on the present site and was officially opened on 20th May 1927 under the auspices of the Sisters of Saint Clare. Mother Mary Evangelista was appointed assistant teacher on the 1st February 1926 replacing Mother Mary Bonaventure, who transferred to Newry to become Novice Mistress.
The premises remained unchanged until the late 1940s when a new toilet block was built outside. In 1960 following the amalgamation of the boys and girls schools two new classrooms were built.
In 1984, the school was further enlarged and comprised of ten classrooms, two resource areas, an assembly/dining hall, two offices, a library, a play room and a large staff room, together with an extensive school meals’ kitchen. There were three playgrounds and a playing field.
In May 2007 a new purpose built Foundation Stage block, courtesy of the DE Replacement Initiative, was built. This was opened by the Minister for Education on 20th May 2007.
In Spring 2013 builders moved on-site to commence the nursery conversion project. The nursery class welcomed its first pupils in September 2014 and was officially opened by the Minister of Education Mr John O’ Dowd in June 2014.
In September 2014 work began on the triple mobile accommodation. This facility was completed in December 2014 and opened its doors for the first time to Primary Three and Primary Four pupils in January 2015.
The Department of Education has recently approved a new off road car parking scheme adjacent to the school, this is due to roll out in 2014/15.
Almost a century later, since the first slated cottage school was built, St. Patrick’s P.S. & N.U. is a thriving, vibrant school. There are 347 pupils in attendance. Over the years the school has developed to keep up with changing times. The present curriculum has evolved significantly to include: Language and Literacy, Mathematics and Numeracy, The World Around Us, The Arts, Religious Education, ICT, Personal Development and Mutual Understanding and Physical Education – a far cry from the early days.
The first written record of school in the Mayobridge area is from the 1824 Report on Education, which mentions a `Hedge School’, a ‘cabin of the worst description’, in Aughnagun;
Teacher: Charles Carr, salary about £5. School: a costing £3. The Catholic return was 21 Catholics and 3 Protestants, 16 boys and 8 girls. The Protestant return was 18 Catholics and 4 Protestants, 12 boys and 10 girls. Both versions of the Bible were read.
In Aughnagun there was another school;
Teacher: Terence McAleavey, salary £2.10.0, with house and 31/2 acres of land rent free. School: a cabin (poor), costing £4.0.0. Both Catholic and Protestant returns record 16 Catholics on the rolls, 10 boys and 6 girls. Authorised Version of the Scriptures were read. Roger Hall, of Narrow Water, had given land rent-free and tithe free.
In Croan, the teacher was Hugh Grant; his salary was £16. The school was “a badly-thatched cabin,” costing about £3. Both Catholic and Protestant returns record 41 Catholics, 10 Presbyterians and 2 others on rolls, 36 boys and 17 girls.
In Mayo, the teacher was Edward Grant; his salary was £12. The school was a “wretched cabin,” costing about £3.0.0. Catholic and Protestant return 37 Catholics 32 boys and 5 girls. No Bible was read.
The Ordnance Survey Memoirs mention that, in 1834, there was in the townland of Ballydulaney: “One small school, average 40 scholars,” with a footnote: “The inhabitants would be very willing to send their children if they could get any encouragement from the government.”