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School History

St Patrick’s National Schools


The National Schools Board was founded in 1831 and St Patrick’s School opened to pupils in 1865.  Very Rev. Patrick Meehan was appointed Parish Priest to St Patrick’s / Monaleen Parish in 1865.  Fr Meehan remains as Parish Priest until 1890 when he was transferred to Kilmallock.

The school was located in the townland of Monamucka in the Barony of Clanwilliam in the Electoral Division of Poor Law Union, Abbey Ward. The school was built from local funds as was customary nationally.  Pennywell was a local name for the area around St Patrick’s.

Fr Meehan was succeeded as Parish Priest by Fr Denis Shanahan who was Parish Priest until 1898. Fr Cornelius Conway was Parish Priest until 1907.  Then in 1907 Canon David O’Driscoll was appointed Parish Priest.  Canon O’Driscoll would have been a granduncle to Mrs Lily Liddy, wife of Mr Cormac Liddy, Sports Editor to the Limerick Leader.  Lily has in her home a beautiful grandfather clock which belonged to her mother’s uncle Canon O’Driscoll.  Canon O’Driscoll was transferred to St Munchin’s Parish in 1914 where he died, and he is buried in the ground of St Munchin’s Church.


St Patrick’s Girls’ School

It was situated at the rear of the church. Access was gained by entering the main gate of the church and proceeding to the right. The school was comprised of one big room. The senior classes were taught at the other end of this room while the junior girls and boys were taught at the other end where there was a gallery which was reached by climbing five or six steps.  The children in the gallery had no desks in front of them so they kept their book on their laps.  The teachers occupied a square in the centre of the room.

At a later stage the school was extended with the addition of a new room to the back of the existing building. The new room was occupied by the junior classes who went home at 2pm.  The senior classes were taught cookery in the new room on Thursday afternoon. The cooking was done on a range.

The cleaning of the school was done by the girls who formed a rota, two or three remaining back after classes every day to dust and clean for the next day. The school was heated with an open fire, the turf for which was supplied by the pupils.  In the mornings they cleaned out and set the fire when in use.

The teachers who taught there during my school days were Miss Cathy O’Sullivan, who transferred to the new Girls’ School in 1915; Miss Lil Gilligan from St Mary’s Parish, who resigned from her teaching post to join The Mercy Order in Tipperary Town where she was known as St M. Cecilia. Sr M. Cecilia died in 1961; Miss McDonnell who left teaching to take up employment in Maguires’ Bakery, Francis Street (Sarsfield House is located there now); Miss Molly Kileen who later taught in the new school.  Molly Killeen married George Clancy, the patriot, a native of Grange, Co. Limerick, after whom Clancy’s Strand is called.  George Clancy was Mayor of Limerick in 1921 and was murdered at his own front door on the night of March 7th, 1921, by the Black and Tans.  Mrs. Clancy’s father was buried that day even though he was ‘on the run’ he came home that night.  Mrs Clancy was shot in the hand.  The same night the Black and Tans murdered Michael O’Callaghan who was Mayor of Limerick in 1920.  That night also the Tans took Joseph O’Donoghue from the Liddy home, “Tig na Fáinne”, in Janesboro, tied him to a gas lamp, tortured him, i.e. removed his nails, etc, and murdered him.  He was only 19 years old and was working with The River Plate Meat Company in William Street.  He was native of Ballinacarrigy, County Westmeath.  There is a beautiful monument to their memory on O’Callaghan Strand, which was unveiled in 1968 by Councillor Rory Liddy, Mayor of Limerick.  The Monument also commemorates Sean Wall, chairman of Limerick County Council, killed in action on May 6th, 1921, and all the men of Limerick County Council and County who fell in the War of Independence.  Sean Wall’s son was the Parish Priest of Kilmallock Parish.

Mrs. Julia Sheehan (nee Kelliher), who was Principal for many years of St Patrick’s Girls’ School, ‘the new school’ near ‘The Pound; was also a pupil of this school.  Mrs. Sheehan was a very fair and highly respected teacher.  She was a member of the well-known republican family, The Kellihers, who were very active during the War of Independence, some of whom spent many a cold night ‘on the run’.  Mrs. Sheehan continued to live in the parish after her marriage and had five children.  Mary who is Sr M. Michael, a member of the Little Company of Mary Congregation.  Sr. Michael Sheehan had a huge involvement in the setting-up of Milford Hospice, Castletroy.  She also spent six years in the Missions in Pretoria, Africa.  She ministered to the sick in Mount Carmel Hospital, Dublin.  Fr Joe Sheehan was a member of the Holy Order and became a Missionary in Australia.  Fr Joe spent ten years on the Missions in Nigeria and while home on holidays here had his passport withdrawn and could not return to Biafra.  He and his confreres then went to California and Arkansas on Mission Work.  He now hopes to be transferred to Ghana, Africa to continue his missionary, Brian, who was a Detective Garda for many years later became Assistant Manager of the Garda Credit Union in Dublin.  Noreen (Mrs.Clancy) is living in Limerick and Jack is a very active parishioner and is exceptionally well-known in GAA circles both locally and throughout the country.



St. Patrick’s Girls’ School

Staff History – 1915 – 1994



1915 saw a new stone 5-teacher school built on the main Dublin Road to replace the old St Patrick’s boys’ and girls’ schools which had been behind St Patrick’s Church.  The children marched up the road from the old to the new school in 1915, but it was officially opened on 1st February 1916.

The school was built with a Treasury Grant, local contributions and voluntary labour by local men.  In the school, the rooms were heated by fires in raised grates used for teaching cookery.  It was customary to heat the children’s bottles of milk around the fires and on top of the range.

The teachers in the girls’ school in 1915 were Mrs. Molly Clancy, Miss Cathy O’Sullivan and Mrs. Julia Sheehan and in the boys’ school were Mr McMahon and Mr Coleman.

The first pupils enrolled in the “new” school after the official opening were Patrick McMahon and May Brennan from the Canal Bank, Mary Ryan, William Koyce, James Sweetland, New Road, Singland, Paddy McMahon and Ester Slattery of Singland, Michael Daly, John Hayes and William dunne of Pennywell, Alphonsus Kirby of Patrick Street, James Ryan of Singland Cottage, Nellie and Mary Mulqueen from Groody, Michael Shanny and Annie Shanny of Lower Park, Michael Mack and Michael Lawlor from Rhebogue and Annie McDonagh and Robert Gloster from Clare Street.

The Principal in the Girls’ School was Mr. Clancy and Mr McMahon was Principal of the Boys’ School.

St Patrick’s Girls’ National School, in the Townland of Monamucka in the Barony of Clanwilliam in the Electoral Division of the Poor Law Union, Abbey Ward, continued its existence in the new building.

The Daily Report Book of 1916 shows: –

July – The salary of Principal:  £15/12/9) for the month.

The salary of 1st Asst:  £10/7/9)

The salary of 2nd Asst: £10/7/9)

The fee for teaching cooking and Irish was: £7/10/0 for the year.


At one stage in her teaching career Cathy O’Sullivan became ill and was advised to go to the Channel Islands to recover.  This she did and afterwards returned to St Patrick’s Girls’ to continue her teaching career until her retirement in 1962.  In Cathy’s last few years in St Patrick’s Girls, there was a 3 o’clock bus run each evening leaving directly across the road from the school into town.  Often there was only one passenger in it, Cathy.  After her retirement the 3 o’clock bus run was discontinued.


Nora O’Sullivan joined the teaching staff in St Patrick’s Girls’ in 1941 from St Mary’s Girls’ School.  Mrs Molly Clancy retired and Miss O’Sullivan filled the vacancy.  On her first day in 1941, Nora O’Sullivan was wearing a new blue coat with pink check (which she had bought in Ambrose’s in Patrick Street), as she set out for St Patrick’s Girls’.  She decided to walk rather that cycle as she thought it was more proper on her first day.  Her classes were 4th, 5th and 6th.  Nora married Tadhg Kelly from the boy’s school the following year and became Mrs. Nora Kelly.


During Mrs. Kelly’s time in the school, as well as using the range for cookery lessons, any visiting inspector was treated to fried rashers cooked on the same range by the teachers and served in another room on Mrs. Sheehan best china.  Both Mrs. Sheehan and Cathy O’Sullivan had been pupils in Laurel Hill secondary School.


The new Garryowen houses gave a large influx of pupils to the school so in 1954 two extra classrooms, two cloakrooms and two teachers’ toilets were added to the building.  The outdoor toilets at the back wall (Rhebogue side) were replaced by flush toilets.


On May 1st, 1955, Nora Heenan (later Mrs. Nora Murphy) joined the staff from St John’s Convent.  She was very involved in the Irish National Teachers Organisation all during her teaching years.  She became Principal in 1973 and retired in 1990.  Nora had the greatest regard for the appreciative parents of the parish.  Mrs. Sheehan died in 1957 and the vacancy was filled by Maureen O’Sullivan who left in 1962 to marry Donal Ryan of St John the Baptist School and later of the Model School.  Maureen later returned to teaching in St Gabriel’s School.


On November 7th, 1960 Miss Ann Ryan Lacken (later Mrs.Marrinan) arrived at the long one storied school which was St Patrick’s Girls’ National School – an extra appointment due to the increase in numbers.  The tiny cloakroom inside the front door had been fitted with desks for my 40 children in third and fourth.  A storage heater had been installed and a small blackboard attached to the wall.  On the staff at the time, were Nora Bean ύi Chellaigh (Principal), Mrs. Nora Murphy (Vice Principal), Cathy O’Sullivan and Maureen O’Sullivan.  To Ann Ryan Lacken after two years in St John’s Convent, teaching in a lay school was a new experience.  Mr. Galvin, the school inspector arrived and wished me well.  In October 1961, Canon Cowpar, P.P. of Park House (near the Ark in Corbally) interviewed Ann for the position of 4th assistant for St Patrick’s Girls National School.  As the marriage ban for women teachers was not long removed, young lady teachers were unsure of their welcome on permanent staffs – so I wore gloves over my engagement ring and kept my hands under the table ‘till the interview was over.  Then Dr Cowpar said “You can remove your gloves now and show me the ring.  It’s one of the reasons I’m giving you the job I know you’ll stay”.  He also told me that I would be the first assistant in a new school in the parish being planned for Corbally, but the parish was divided shortly afterwards, and that new school went to St Mary’ Parish.


Break times were busy times because those teachers not on “duty” were boiling a kettle on a primus stove in a timber butter-box to make the cup of tea or coffee.  Last is on staff in the Girls’ School was to take the Church Choir with Benediction on Sundays and Quarant Ore in summertime.  Practicing was done at night, so I then inherited charge of the choir.


On the Boys staff at the time was Tadhg Kelly, Principal, his brother Denis and Paddy Johnston.  Paddy Johnston went to teach in Dublin and was replaced by Ger Tierney.  Pat Kearney then joined the staff and after him Frank Davis, who stayed a short while before transferring to the JFK.  Tim Lehane (of RTE radio) joined the Boys School as the fifth teacher.  All five stayed on staff and moved across the road to the “New Boys School” in 1966.


Kitty Kevane, 1961 – 1967, has very pleasant memories of the quality of girls in the school and of their lovely mental poise.  Mrs. Kevane went to Meelick N.S. from St Patrick’s.


Other additions to the Girls Staff were Elsie Wallace who came from St Mary’s Convent in 1962.  She later married Pat Kearney of the Boys School who became Principal in St Brigid’s.  For many years Elsie’s girls won the medals in singing at Fėile Luimnί.  Norah Gleeson joined the staff in 1962 also.


Prior to 1966, both boys’ and girls’ schools were bursting at the seams.  Classes were held in both cloakrooms and the boys also were using the scout-hall on the hill.  1966 saw the new boys’ school built but the classes crossed the road as each room was ready.


Norah Gleeson and Ann Marrinan shared one room (now our hall and TV. room).  Ann had Junior Infants and Norah had 1st Class.  They shared the classroom for about half a year, as some classes from the boys’ school were using the building.  By 1967, the entire boys’ and girls’ were occupied by girls.


In 1967 Carmel McCarthy with a Monaghan connection came but stayed for a very short time.


1968 Mary Brew from Kilkee came and she later moved to St Brigid’s School.


In 1970 Angela Osbourne from Galbally joined us in the Girls’ School and also transferred to St Brigid’s Staff.  Mrs. Dolores Costello from Lower Park (married to Joe Costello of St Brigid’s) came in 1973 and taught the infant classes.  Indoor toilets and a teachers’ room were added to the school in 1974.


Then in 1975 came Margaret Johnston and Anne O’Gorman, Anne followed Mary Brew and Angela Osbourne to St Brigid’s School.


Our first remedial teacher was Liz McAuley (nee Wallace). Liz joined in 1979 and was replaced by Roseanne Moore (nee Cregan) from Ballyhahill when Liz left to work in Dublin in 1983.


In 1990 Deirdre Breathnach who is married to a parishioner and past pupil (Joe Walsh) joined the staff.


1994 gave us Angela Carmody, a past pupil and parishioner, as our very newest remedial teacher.


Music and drama have always formed a large part of the heritage of the Girl’s School.  Plain Chant, Fėile Luimnί, Cόr Fhėile and Fėile Scoildramaίochta were intertwined with our school life.  What would the girls of 1915 think of today’s girls in their blue and white uniforms?  The timber floors are covered by carpet.  The grates are gone and storage heaters have taken their place.  The ink-well holes in the old desks are empty, and a computer, television and video are now the trend and our school has a secretary (Rόisίn) and a caretaker (Mr Molloy).  Time marches through the corridor in St Patrick’s Girls’ but our school traditions stay untouched from generation to generation.


The little girl (Hannie Cross) who learned “The Croppy Boy” under the plaque in 1915 would have felt very much a part of the school listening to Mrs.Gleeson’s class singing “The Dear Little Shamrock” or “ The Sally Garden” many, many years later.  Koyce’s shop, where the little girls bought their sweets, is long gone and Winnie’s and Maggie’s place in now a concrete triangle beside McGrath’s Pub.


Cross, Shanny, Quilligan, Clancy, McNamara, Troy, Kelliher, Bourke, Doyle, Hannan, Hannon, Manning, O’Brien, Clancy, Dawson, Power, Flood, O’Callaghan, Anslow, Madden, O’Hanlon, McDermot, Cunneen and Benson are surnames in the school for a number of years.



St. Patrick’s Girls’ School

Staff History 1994 – 2016


Dόnal O’Gorman


The present St Patrick’s Girls’ school is celebrating its 100th year of Education and this was one of the main motivational factors in deciding to write a commemorative book.  In this part we wished to continue the article first formulated by Ann Marrinan (RIP) in the book Patrick’s People.   With this in mind we have continued by starting where her account of the staff of St Patrick’s Girls’ School ended, after the appointment of Angela Carmody, past pupil and former parishioner in 1994.


In October of 1994 Mairėad Morgan joined the staff, a native of Clarecastle.  She came to us from Limerick Supply Panel in the brand-new position as Resource Teacher for Traveller pupils shared between the Girls’ and the Boys’ schools.  The last of the cloak rooms was converted to provide a room for this new position.


The intervening years saw changes to the school.  No longer was the primus stove needed to boil the kettle.  An Electric kettle, toaster, microwave and dishwasher were added to the staff room for the convenience and comfort of staff who were not “on duty” supervising the students in the split level concrete yard.


In December 1999 Clare Collins a former parishioner (now Clare Farrell) joined the staff.  She was appointed on the retirement of the then Principal Ann Marrinan, a position made available as Angela Carmody took up the post of School Principal.  Also in 1999 Lorraine took up the position as school secretary on the departure of Louise.


2001 saw the permanent appointment of Sinėad Clancy from Corbally.  She replaced Deirdre Breathnach as staff member.  Later that same year Regina Coleman with ties to Roscommon and Mayo joined the staff.  She left in 2008 to return to her native county.  Cora Collins also joined the staff as our first Special Needs Assistant, she left at the end of 2002.


2003 saw another change to staff.  Angela Carmody stepped down as Principal but remains as a member of staff.  Dόnal O’Gorman, our current Principal, was appointed.  Dόnal arrived from Corpus Christi School in Moyross on January 7th, a native of Aughalin, Knockaderry, Co. Limerick.  This was the start of a lot of changes in the school staff with a number of retirements and a steady increase in pupil numbers.  This increase is attributed to both the steady development of new housing estates in the parish and an influx of international pupils.


Presently, in 2016 there are 14 different nationalities in the school.  The increase in numbers necessitated the installation of 3 prefabricated classrooms at the rear of the building.


Coinciding with the arrival of Dόnal, the school went through not only a lot of changes in staff, pupil enrolment but physical changes.  At this time the Celtic Tiger was roaring and money in the form of many grants became available to schools.  Capital grants allowed the school to make the rear yard more pupil friendly and it was levelled and newly surfaced in 2005.  The wall down the middle of the yard was removed also and a wheelchair friendly entrance was built.  Toilets were upgraded and all classrooms were re-floored.  Furniture grants saw the old desks (ink wells and all) exchanged for new ones in 2006 (to the delight of the cleaning staff).  Information and Technology grants lead to all classrooms getting new computers and Interactive Whiteboards in 2008.


2004 saw the retirement of Elsie Kearney and Margaret Johnston which led to both Christopher McNamara and Antoinette McNamara (husband and wife) joining the staff from Corpus Christi, Moyross.  Our Special Needs Assistant Betty O’Sullivan took up employment in this year also.


In 2005 Dolores Costello retired.


2006 saw the appointment of Sandra Geary a native of Feenagh and Catherine O’Shea a native of Ennistymon as permanent members of staff.  An increase in school numbers and the retirement of Dolores Costello made the appointments necessary.


2007 saw the appointment of Evelyn Hartigan from Ahane.


2009 Caroline Campbell a Limerick native and Sinėad Coloe hailing from Mullingar both joined the school staff.  Due to a fall in numbers Sinėad left us in 2011 and went to join the staff of Meelick NS. In 2012 Miriam Gillman joined our staff followed by Orla McKee in 2017.


We also need to mention some of our long-term temporary staff who spent some memorable time with us, Eimear O’Reilly who is currently teaching in Salesians Fernbank, Mary O’Connor now making her mark in Abu Dhabi and Jessica Madden, a former pupil of St Patrick’s teaching in St Michael’s Infant School.  Our current temporary staff includes Thomas Grimes and Jennifer O’Brien.  There are just a few of the very many teachers (too many to mention) that have passed some time with us her in St Patrick’s.


Time continues to march on.  Our school changes as new technology is introduced and assimilated – the television and video cassette recorder are long replace by our interactive whiteboards and laptops.  Wi-Fi is in all the classes giving instant access to the internet.


Our books are both online and in the classroom.  We can only imagine how the class will change again in another 20 years.  Virtual reality would be a part of daily teaching with places only once read about, or displayed in pictures, visited through augmented reality glasses.  This begs the question will there even be a school and classroom to go in 2116?  Will teachers still be required?