A Brief History of St. Brigid’s National School

St. Brigid’s School is mentioned in the 1821 Census. A local man named Matthew Kelly, aged 40, taught 60 scholars. He was the only teacher in the school at the time. The school itself took its name from the nearby Catholic Church. The 1837 Ordnance Survey map shows that the school was on the site of the parish GAA centre. The school was a pay school as parents had to pay the wages of the school teachers. The school became St. Brigid’s National School in 1840 as a result of Fr. Patrick Gibney P.P. successfully applying to the board of National Education. At the time there were in fact two schools, Male and Female, both within the same building.

Pat Mahon, 21, who was principal in 1840 prior to the changeover, was replaced by Par Carolan in July 1841. Marcella Grimes, 20, was replaced by Margaret Gibney who served until 1850.
Pat Carolan died in the year 1842. In the following 33 years up to the year 1875 there was a long line of principals in the Male School. These men included Owen Rogers,John Coyle, Peter Rourke, Denis Gallagher, Bernard McEnerney, Edward Rooney, Thomas Mooney, Patrick Farrell, Patrick Norris, John Nulty and Joseph Tully.

Catherine Coyle of Balrathboyne also succeeded Margaret Gibney as principal of the Femal School and taught there from the years 1851 until 1875.

At some time between 1856 and 1868 a new school was built. This is now the parish G.A.A. Centre.

In the year 1875 both the Male and Female School amalgamated with Catherine Coyle becoming the principal of the school and James McDonnell, from Ballinlough, becoming the assistant.

Catherine Coyle was replaced in the year 1880 as principal due to retirement She was replaced by Mary Moore of Fordstown until 1895 when she married James McDonnell and the pair reversed roles.

James McDonnell died in the year 1905 and his wife became Principal once again until she later retired twelve years later in 1917. Her daughter, Ellen Reynolds, was assistant from 1905 until 1958.

James Cuffe from Navan served as Principal of St. Brigid’s National School until 1930. Andrew Smith took over then from the years 1930 until 1934, when he himself was succeeded by Peter Smith, a resident of Martry.

The school later moved to its present location in the year 1937 when Fr. O’Keefe had a new building constructed.

In 1958 Peter Smith’s sister, Mary Duignan, became assistant. The present principal, Tony Coogan, commenced duties in 1972 while Mrs. Duignan retired in 1982 to be replaced by the current Deputy Principal, Maureen Burke.

The Board of Management under the chairmanship of Fr. John Conlon C.C. oversaw the construction of a school extension which was officially opened and blessed by Bishop Smith in 2005.

Colin Quigley, Ruth Conaty and Jason Coffey all joined the present teaching staff in the years 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively.