History of School

Scoil Naomh Mhuire NS, 1833 – 2015

imageWhile the stone plaques erected over the present school buildings show the years, 1927 and 2006, the school itself dates back to the early 19th century. It was founded in 1833 by Reverend Maurice Kearney, who was the parish priest of  the Parish of Staplestown from 1824 – 1842.  Reverend Kearney, who was also Parish Priest of Rathcoffey and Clane had invested in cattle dealing in order to supplement the income of the parish and had succeeded in making substantial sums of money from these activities (Comerford’s “Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin”).  He used some of this money to renovate the three churches and to improve the schools within his parishes. (Seamus Cullen).

The early 1800s had seen a huge increase in the population of Ireland, with the population rising from approximately 4 million in 1800 to over 8 million by 1840.  The countryside around Staplestown, shared in this growth. Reports submitted by Reverend Kearney, to Dr. Doyle (J.K.L.) in 1829, show that church at Staplestown has been “enlarged”  to accommodate the increasing population.  (Leinster Leader, 1939).  Conditions were very poor in the parish.  British House of Common papers (Vol 32) show that the families of the parish lived in mud cabins with poorly thatched roofs.  Poorer families on the bog lived in hovels constructed from turf.  Dwellings were typically eight foot wide and generally divided into two, or sometimes three apartments.  The family huddled together in one section while the second housed pigs or poultry and the third was used to store potatoes.  These families had no beds or bedding and slept in the rags which they wore during the day.

It was at this time that a two-storey school house was erected in the grounds of St Benignus Church “for the Education of the Poor Children in the Parish of Staplestown”.  The school house, which is now used as a community hall, has a separate entrance to the first floor level.  This conformed to the norms of the time, when boys and girls were not only educated in separate classrooms but also entered and exited schools through different doors. Ordnance Survey maps which were completed between 1829 and 1841 show the location of the original school house in the church grounds.

Old school house in the grounds of St Benignus church.

Old school house in the grounds of St Benignus church.

SchoolsignA new two room school was built in 1929.  At the time Sean O’Farrell was the school master and his wife [name] was the school mistress. An article in the Leinster Leader of 30th May, 1936 describes the singing of the children of Staplestown school, under the training of Mr. and Mrs. O’Farrell, stating that “the rendering of the sung parts of the High Mass reflects credit on both teachers and pupils”.  Sean O’Farrell’s years in Staplestown are vividly described in the book “Tell me Sean O’Farrell: Story of an Irish Schoolmaster”, written in 1986 by his son Padraic O’Farrell (1932-2003).

The school was further extended in 2006, when two new classrooms were added.  The school was still a two-teacher school, however the new extension allowed the wall between the two older classrooms to be removed to form a general purpose or PE hall.  In recent years, enrolment numbers in the school have increased and the school is now a four-teacher school.  In 2012 the school received funding from the Department of Education and Science to build a bright and modern classroom block to the rear of the school.

With the help of various fund-raising activities we are continuously developing are school grounds to provide the best possible educational experience for all our pupils.

If you have any further knowledge of the history of the school, we would love to hear from you. Please use the contact form. http://www.staplestownns.ie/contact

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