Primay Education in the Artane & Coolock area  
 


The first mention of an educational 'institution' in the Artane region is gleaned from the calendar of Christ Church Deeds under the year 1630. In a report of a visitation by Archbishop Berkely we read from an entry under Santry :-
"James Drake, a mass priest, resident at Tartaine, and commonly sayeth mass there. There is likewise his brother, Patrick Drake, a Popishe schoolmaster, to whome the children thereabouts goes to schoole".
This is a reference to a hedge school in the grounds of the then Artaine Castle and is possibly the earliest school known to exist in the Artane area.

The earliest mention of a school in the Coolock area is recorded in 1726 in the will of a Dr. Nicholas Forster, who was then Bishop of Raphoe. He made an indenture on 3rd November 1726 giving about two acres of land to the "English school at Coolock". The schoolhouse built on the land was for a lease of 75 years and was to be used by a "Protestant Schoolmaster to teach the english tongue to eight poor boys of the said town of Coolock".

When the National School system was being set up in 1831, this school opted to remain outside the system. The founder of the famous St. Jame's Gate Brewery of Guinness, Arthur Guinness, supported this school during his life and bequeathed £600 in this will, the interest to be divided equally between this school and the poor of the parish. The site of this school, which is no longer in existence, would roughly coincide with the site of the Bank of Ireland in Coolock Village.

In a report in the Catholic Directory of 1821, we read that there was a Catholic school in Coolock for 100 pupils. In an 1826 Government Report, we read that a Mr. Brennan was paid £12 18's Od as teacher of 30 pupils in the Catholic chapel of Coolock.

When St. David's B.N.S. opened its doors in 1968, there was a vacated schoolhouse on the Kilmore Road, a short distance from its junction with the Malahide Road. This school was built in 1831 by Matthew Boyle of Artaine Castle at a cost of £600 with accommodation for a schoolmaster and schoolmistress. Not only did it serve the Artane population, but it also acted as the Catholic school for Coolock as well. John and Margaret Leahy were the first "superintendents" of this school and by 1837, there were 116 boys and 107 girls enrolled. The Leahy's were succeeded by James and Jane McGonigle and in the History of Coolock Parish by Rev. James Kenny, we read that Mrs. Callaghan of Artaine Castle often visited the school and took classes there. In 1845, Mr & Mrs. Harding were teachers in the school.

In the 1850's, John Hanlon was the Principal Teacher in Artane and he was succeeded in 1862 by John Darcy. From 1866 until 1880 Edward Darcy and his wife were the listed teachers and they in turn were succeeded in 1881 by a Neal McGettigan and later by a Simon Nolan. In 1884, Joseph O Neill and his wife were teachers and they were succeeded by a James Coyle and a Mrs. Kennedy. In the 1890's we read of R. Healy and Mary J. Healy as teachers followed by a Miss Kate Hill. In the early 1900's a Brigid Flanagan is listed as teacher and she was often visited in the school by her sister, Sinead Flanagan. This Sinead Flanagan, who was a teacher in Dorset Street was later to marry Eamonn de Valera, one of the country's founding fathers, Taoiseach and third President of Ireland.

From 1913 - 1915, S.A. Jackson is listed as teacher and he left to join the British Army during the First World War. Between 1916 and 1918, the teachers at Artane are listed as Gerald J. Coyne, Edward Cody and John Cullen. Miss Elizabeth Finn, who attended the school as a pupil, became a teacher there and another teacher listed is a Miss Donoghue. The last Principal of the school was Peter Keane from Skerries who commenced teaching at Artane in 1919.


Artane National School c. 1919, now demolished.
The school was opposite Joe's Hardware
at the start of the Kilmore Road.
The pupils are with their principal, Mr. Peter Keane from Skerries.

Deed Map of Bishop Nicholas Foster's gift
of a Charity School to Coolock, 1726.

 

Mention of education in the Artane area could not exclude the Artane Industrial School complex and associated school, which was founded by the Irish Christian Brothers in 1870. The then Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Cullen, invited the Irish Christian Brothers to set up a school for orphan and destitute children following the passing of the Industrial School Act of 1868. The property chosen was the Artane Castle Demense, then in the possession of a Mr. Callaghan (c.f. article on History of Artaine). Within a few months of their arrival at Artane the Brothers, under the leadership of Br. Alphonsus Hoope, were looking after 150 boys. A sum of £60,000 was used to buy the property and build a school, workshops, dormitories, a chapel and an infirmary. This work continued for the next 99 years.

The original land comprised of 56 acres and, soon, Bro. Hoope realised that hundreds of more acres would be needed. As time went on, the adjoining estates of Kilmore, Rockfield and Whitethorn were acquired and these helped to cater for the needs of 800 growing boys. Many of the boys, at this time, along with acquiring a basic education, were also trained as farmers and gardeners. Many boys also trained in music and as a result the famous Artane Boys Band came into existence. Bro. Hoope left Artane in 1890 and a Bro. Butler succeeded him. He was responsible for the building of the Concert Hall and Band Room in 1894. He also was instrumental in setting up a model farm by which, Artane, with its 800 pupils, became self sufficient in food.

In 1914, under a Bro. Ryan, electricity generators were installed in a well appointed Power House. Bro. Ryan also established a section where the boys were taught the rudiments of motor mechanics. He later established a woolen and weaving industry and this opened up more trades for those interested in such occupations. Other trades catered for within Artane included Cabinet-making; painting; carpentry; cart and wheel-wrighting; copper and tin plate working; plumbing; tailoring; fitting; iron-turning and wire working; boot and shoe making; baking and milling; harness making; blacksmith and general smith working and printing. Music was catered for under three bands - (i) string band (ii) brass and reel band (iii) fife and drum band.

Public opinion re orphanages and institutions, like Artane, began to change in the fifties and sixties. Within some years, most institutions phased out their pupil intake and Artane decided to do likewise. So on the 30 June 1969 the Artane Industrial School closed its doors after ninety nine years service to the orphaned and the destitute.

With the opening of the school at Killester in 1929, this building fell into disuse as a school and was used instead as a Parish Hall. Many locals remember it being used for concerts and the late great uileann piper, Leo Rowsome, often performed to packed audiences there in the 1930's.

Amateur dramatic groups used the former schoolhouse frequently and plays such as 'The Shadow of a Gunman' and the 'Coleen Ban' were regularly performed there.

In the forties and fifties the Parnell Boxing Club used the old school house for training under the direction of a Jack Teeling and Jimmy Ingle. For a number of years also it was used as the Head Quarters of the Artane Company, North County Dublin Battalion, F.C.A. The O.C. of this company was the former Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey.

For a short period of a year or two in the 1950's, it was again pressed into service as a school because of overcrowding in Killester. It was finally closed in 1959 when the present St. Brendan's N.S. was opened.

For a few years around the 1920's, a special party was held here for the children from Coolock. It was called the Christmas Tree, and this unpublished poem, written along time ago, helps to give some idea of the atmosphere at the 1924 event.

"Oh, steady my head and my hands. Oh, shut out every noise,
Till I try to concentrate on Coolock's girls and boys.
I see them now in my mind's eye, 300 grouped and small;
All packed up tight as sardines in Artane Parochial Hall.
I used to ask them to sit down, and with orders drive them crazy,
While Tom O Farrell played foxtrots, the kids sang 'Daisy, Daisy'.
The Christmas Tree was all lit up, and there stood Santa Claus,
All fixed with sweets and toys, to place in grubby paws.
The children filed up to the tree, each boy and girl in turn
And Santa shook each little hand, just like our Alfie Byrne.
At tea, each tummy soon became a very full one
For what they got each kid gave thanks, to God and Lily Cullen."


And so to the present day. In 1967, Scoil Eanna opened its doors as a school catering for junior and senior infants and first classes, boys and girls. On the 1st July 1968, St. John of God's and St. David's B.N.S. opened their doors on the Kilmore Road to cater for girls and boys respectively from 2nd to 6th classes. On the 1st July 1988, Scoil Eanna closed down and was amalgamated into St. David's and St. John of God's.