School History







History_of Castlebar

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Scoil Naomh Pádraig, Caisleán a' Bharraigh


History of Our School

Arrival of the Brothers



Burning of the Old School

Interesting Facts


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Photo Design - John R. (Sixth Class)                                     

History of our School

Compiled by Aisling Grier

The arrival of the Brothers to Castlebar

The reputation of the De La Salle Brothers spread far and wide through out the world.
In 1888 Canon Patrick Lyons P.P. V.F. of Castlebar invited the De La Salle Brothers to
come and educate the children of the town. The Brothers accepted this offer and the
Canon secured a site from Lord Lucan for the new school building. St. Patrick’s National
School was built on Chapel Street and opened on the 3rd September 1888.

The first principal was Brother Michael who was reputed to be a cultured
gentleman of wide experience.
He was accompanied by five other Brothers:

Brother John
Brother Anastatuis
Brother Henry
Brother Vincent
Brother ?


When the school doors opened on the 4th September 1888 there was 189 students present.
There was a growing interest about the Brothers through out the parish and within the first
few months they had numerous Episcopal visits including one from the Archbishop of Tuam
Dr. McEvilly on the 26th September 1888. It is also recorded that the Earl of Lucan and his
son the honourable Francis Bingham visited the school in 1889.



Subjects                                                                                 TOP


There was quite a few surprises in the subjects covered in those days.
Here is a snippet of just a few:









In August 1889 St. Patrick’s School had their first visit from the inspector
of the National School Board. This inspection lasted four days and every single
subject was examined. One of the Brothers teaching in the school at that time
noted down the questions asked by the Inspector.

The children had to know: Geography:

6th Class 5th Class 4th Class 3rd Class


Geography of Ireland in detail Geography of Ireland Asked to point out principal towns, mountains and rivers on the map of the world
Scotland All the Counties and their principal towns and industries Islands


Chief towns




Ü Parsing

Ü Spelling

Ü Meanings of words

Agriculture (4th,5th,6th)

They were examined about agriculture orally and in writing

It is important to note that the teachers were paid according to the results
of their class and if a pupil failed any of the subjects then the teacher’s salary
was lowered accordingly. The first record of salaries is from April 1889, six months
after the Brothers started in the school. The entry indicated that the salaries of 5
Brothers amounted to £105:9:10 for the period 4th September 1888 to 31st March


Problems encountered in the early days                                 TOP


An interesting fact to note is that when the school first opened in 1888, it was
not compulsory and parents were not obliged to send their children there. There
was a reduction in attendance of pupils in 1896 which coincided with the introduction
of "The Compulsory Education Act" parents kept pupils at home in protest of this new Act.
It is said that this lasted nearly a year because in October 1897 one of the Brothers wrote
" The Compulsory Education Act is a Complete and signal failure". By 1898 everything went
back to normal and classes were once again full.

School Closures

The school had to close on a few occasions and for a variety of reasons:

Outbreak of typhoid - Closed January 1934

The Big Frost- Closed for two weeks in 1947

The school fire- Closed from 28/2/57 to 3/4/57



 Burning of the old school                                                                           TOP

The alarm was raised at around 3a.m. during the night of the 28th February 1957,
a fire was raging through the building burning the contents of the school. It was not
until the following day that the true impact of the inferno could be assessed. The
building was destroyed and much to the delight of the pupils classes did not resume
until the 3rd April 1957. There are, however, accounts of some pupils who went back
to school the following week in another building up by Pavillion Rd.

One of the few surviving items was the school bell (pictured below) it was slightly
damaged and was repaired and used again up until the 1990’s.

The exact cause of the fire was never officially known but speculation suggested an
electrical fault.

A new site had to be found for the school and on the 3rd April 1957, the school
was temporarily transferred to the Military Barracks, Blocks G and H.

In 1959, building commenced on the new school located on a sight overlooking
the remains of the old and it was officially opened on the 9th November 1961.


The Old School Bell

Interesting facts                                                                 TOP

One Brother who attended the school in 1922 shared a few memories that really show
how things have changed throughout the years.

  • They had the less fortunate lads seated near the fire and the well heeled on the
  • The average contribution for the turf was 2/6 for the poorer lads and £1
    for the better off.
  • In 2nd Class the classroom was heated by means of a stove and when the wind blew
    from a certain direction they were
    smoked out and the classroom had to be vacated.
  • When the school first opened they mainly used slates for writing.

 Previous Principals                                                    TOP

There were numerous principals throughout the last 111 years
and it is only in the last years that a lay principal was employed.

Brother Michael 1888-1896 8 years
Brother Stanislaus 1896-1900 4 years
Brother Joseph 1900-1915 15 years
Brother Felix 1915-1916 1 year
Brother Michael 1916-1921 5 years
Brother Albeus 1921-1927 6 years
Brother Florence 1927-1933 6 years
Brother Patrick 1933-1937 4 years
Brother Thomas 1937-1941 4 years
Brother Nicholas 1941-1950 9 years
Brother Cassian 1950-1957 7 years
Brother Augustine 1957-1969 12 years
Brother David 1969-1975 6 years
Brother Ailbe 1975-1989 14 years
Brother Stanislaus 1989-1995 6 years
Dr. Vincent McHale 1995-  



In 1988, the town celebrated the Centenary of the de La Salle Brothers arrival to Castlebar.
The people from the town thanked the Brothers for their hard work and dedication in the
education of the young people.

The school has since bulit on an extension to accommodate the rising numbers of pupils
attending. At present, there are 450 pupils and 23 teachers in the school.
The first lay principal Dr. Vincent McHale was appointed in 1995 and is still principal