The History of Education in
Mayobridge - 1832 – 2015

(Original text Gerry Quinn, adapted 2015)

Education as we know it in Mayobridge began when a small slated cottage school was established by the National Board of Education in November 1832.

This school was intended to replace the hedge school. The new school was sited near Mayo Chapel, now the Parochial Hall.

Records show that in September 1836 the attendance at Mayo School was 103 boys and 48 girls. The master was Owen Fegan.

From 1832, up until the present school was built, the band room and, after 1862, the parochial hall served as locations for Mayo National Schools.

In the early 1920s, Masters O’Hagan and McGlinchey had classes in the band room.

Pierce Fegan and later Sr. Mary Bonaventure taught in the Parochial Hall. In 1912, the Inspectors’ report commented, regarding the Girls’ School,

“Work is carried out in this school under unfavourable conditions, as the house is very old and hardly suitable…. The tone is fairly good and on the whole, the pupils are making fair progress. Needlework shows some improvement…. Equipment for manual instruction is still inadequate.”

The Scheme of Education in the early part of the century placed great emphasis on Reading, Composition, History, Geography and Arithmetic.

For girls Needlework was an essential part of the school curriculum.

In 1923 there were 120 children attending the schools in Mayobridge and there were plenty of complaints regarding the state of the buildings.

In September of that year Canon McGinnis wrote that he hoped to get work started soon on building a new school.

Due to legal technicalities, building work on a proposed new school was delayed and, with the existing school being considered unsafe, a temporary classroom, later called the Sodality Room, was built. T

his room, along with two rooms in the Convent, were used to accommodate the pupils pending the completion of the new school.

The new school was built on the present site and was officially opened on 20th May 1927 under the auspices of the Sisters of Saint Clare. Mother Mary Evangelista was appointed assistant teacher on the 1st February 1926 replacing Mother Mary Bonaventure, who transferred to Newry to become Novice Mistress.

The premises remained unchanged until the late 1940s when a new toilet block was built outside. In 1960 following the amalgamation of the boys and girls schools two new classrooms were built.

This coincided with the arrival of a new member of staff who was to lead and inspire many generations of children, staff and parents in the years ahead – Mother Attracta.

Visionary in the wider world of Education, Mother set about enhancing the educational opportunities for all in her care in her own inimitable style, becoming a legendary figure in Mayobridge and far beyond until her recent passing in early 2020. May she enjoy everlasting rest in the celestial school of heaven.

In 1984, under Mother Attracta’s leadership as principal, the school was further enlarged and now comprised ten classrooms, two resource areas, an assembly/dining hall, two offices, a library, a play room and a large staff room, together with an extensive school meals’ kitchen. There were at this stage three playgrounds and a playing field.

In May 2007 a new purpose built Foundation Stage block, courtesy of the DE Replacement Initiative, was built. This was opened by the Minister for Education, Mrs Caitríona Ruane on 20th May 2007.

Much needed additional play space for the children was provided in 2010 by Mayobridge Parish, courtesy of Mayobridge Community Association with a new Convent yard and garden area.

In Spring 2013 builders moved on site again to commence the Nursery Conversion project.

The eagerly awaited Nursery welcomed its first entrants in September 2013 and was officially opened by the new Minister of Education, Mr John O’ Dowd in June 2014.

In September 2014 work began on the Triple Modular Accommodation Block which was needed to meet the increasing enrolment needs at this stage. The new facility was completed in December 2014 and opened its doors for the first time to Primary Three and Primary Four pupils in January 2015.

The Department of Education subsequently approved a new off road car parking scheme adjacent to the school, which became operational in 2016. Plans for the development of the school field as a further hard surface yard are presently in the final stages, the existing field provision being accommodated in the new, recently redeveloped Parish field below the Car Park.

Over the years the school has evolved consistently to keep pace with both educational and societal changes and above all to meet the pastoral needs of the children in its care.

The present curriculum has changed significantly and appropriately to include: Language & Literacy, Mathematics & Numeracy, The World Around Us, The Arts, Religious Education, ICT, Personal Development & Mutual Understanding and Physical Education – a far cry from the early days!!!! Almost a century later, since the first slated cottage school was built, St. Patrick’s P.S. & N.U. is a thriving, vibrant school with 349 pupils presently in attendance in thirteen classrooms.