Castlemartyr Girls 1900
Castlemartyr and its schools through history
(What follows is an account of schooling in Castlemartyr. The information has been extracted from "Castlemartyr National School 100 - 1889 - 1989. This book was published by Castlemartyr Enterprise Centre "to provide a record of the Old National School Castlemartyr from its beginning in 1889..." and before that time. Page 5 shows a photo of THE NATIONAL SCHOOL CENTENARY COMMITTEE the members of which were Rick Prendergast, Tom Ahern, Fr. Micheál Ó Lionsaigh and Paul Power. )
- Records of formal schools and schooling in Castlemartyr go back to the early 1700's beginning with a movement for Charity Schools.
- Charity schools were founded by benevolent, private individuals and foundations in the early 1700's. Col. Boyle the area Landlord then living in Castlemartyr House, the building that is now the Resort Hotel and was for many years a Secondary school for boys run by the Carmelite Order, was the liberal benefactor who founded a Charity school in Castlemartyr in 1718. The school began with 20 boys of mostly Protestant extraction.
- The Charity School movement gave way to the Incorporated Society for Establishing Charter Schools in 1731. The Earl of Shannon established a Charter School in Castlemartyr in 1748. Lord Shannon presented two acres of land, believed to be close to the present Catholic Church, to the society for the school. Enquiries in the 1780's discredited the Charter School movement and exposed them as being seriously inadequate. John Howard made a report to parliament in 1788 which specifically mentioned Castlemartyr school. While reports were not good Castlemartyr Charter School it was by no means the worst. (These reports came from a growing movement to force the state, the government, to become involved in the provision of elementary schooling for the first time. This was a new idea. It is something taken for granted today but truly revolutionary at the time and took several decades to become a reality.) Charter schools became increasingly discredited over time and the Castlemartyr school was closed in 1824.
- A survey carried out 1808 - 1812 showed there were four schools in the Castlemartyr area catering for 272 pupils.
- A survey from 1834 showed there were now 7 schools in the area catering for a total population of 248 Protestants and 4,593 Roman Catholics.
- Catholic Emancipation came about in 1829 and the Education Question became entwined with the religious one. This led eventually to Denominational education which is historically long-established in our education system. Catholics became increasingly interested in founding Catholic schools. The government of the day was proposing a National Education system that would be non-denominational. Society and history would steer a different course.
- In 1831 the government , (we were then part of the British Empire), introduced the National School System and a National School was in existence in Castlemartyr by 1834. It is recorded as having been located on the Main Street opposite the Hotel, Demesne entrance and mentioned in the book as "Godsil's house".
- In a School Inspector's Observation book from 1856 the location of Castlemartyr National School premises is mentioned as being what is now the Catholic Church. It was built in the early 1850's. The records show that in 1856 and 1857 the school was mixed but divided into two separate schools, male and female, with two separate roll numbers in 1858. There was originally only one room and the roof was thatched. There are records of renovations in 1864 and of further repairs. Records show also that there were bad staff relations and hints of poor school morale. By 1884 the prospect of a new purpose-built school house was being discussed. School began at 10:00 a.m. and finished at 4:00 p.m. There was a 30 minute lunch break. The school taught the obligatory subjects of reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography and needlework. The teacher also taught and marked "Extra branch" subjects; agriculture, geometry, algebra, vocal music, mensuration and book-keeping. In a report the teacher was criticised for broadening the curriculum and instructed to "adhere to the programme". On foot of an inspector's derogatory report a new school building was recommended and sanctioned in 1889.
- The new school is now known as the Old School. Today it is the Enterprise Centre on the Mogeely Road, ( Grange is the townland), and is home to Katherine Holland's Playschool, opened in June 1890. It is a beautiful cut limestone building. It was built as a four classroom building. It was in fact two schools when it opened as it housed a two-room school for the boys and the same for the girls.The two schools were amalgamated in 1966 into a co-educational four teacher school. Numbers grew and a fifth teacher was appointed in 1978. The new curriculum was introduced in 1971. The children came on foot from within a four mile radius. There was also a Church of Ireland School in Castlemartyr at that time. That building is used today as the HSE Health Centre
- Writing in 2012 Castlemartyr National School,( St. Joseph's N.S. or Scoil Iósaf N.S.) is built in Gortnahomnamore, Castlemartyr. The school stands on a beautiful elevated site rising gently above the Village on the Killeagh Road (N25). The School was built as a six classroom school in January 1981 with a large hall attached. Many of the current parents remember the day that the pupils walked from "the Old School " on the Mogeely road to the beautiful building in Gortnahomnamore. A new classroom was added to the front of the building in 2012. This was the first major change in 32 years and a Learning Support room was cleverly built into the internal quadrangle in 2010. Today there are 194 pupils from 132 families. The teachers number 10 plus five ancillary staff.