Maryborough National School – a short history
The school on the Stradbally Road Portlaoise was built in 1897, as is commemorated by a plaque on the front wall. In 1889, the Rector, the Rev Mr Eves, had mentioned at a Select Vestry meeting “the state of decay” of the parochial school on the same site and suggested building a new one. It was hoped to build the new school on the Abbeyleix Road but in 1892 there were difficulties with the “military authorities”. Plans here did not work out, and in 1894 the land on the Stradbally Road was granted by Dr David Jacob and Mr Coote.
The school was built at a cost of £381.7.0, with a grant of £254.4.8 sanctioned by the Commissioners of National Education on 23 January 1898. A wall to enclose the school grounds was built at a cost of £51.7.0, for which a grant of £34.4.8 was received. The two-room building was vested in the Commissioners for 999 years from 24 January 1896, and was erected for 100 children according to Plan III. There was a fireplace in each room, and the smaller room had a “gallery” – three steps at the back of the room for the pupils’ desks. The roof was of slates, and the floor was wooden boards. A residence for the school teacher was built at the same time at the rear of the school.
In 1897 there were 61 pupils in the school, 35 boys and 26 girls. The Principal was Mr Archibald Kane, who came from Co Derry. In 1898 he received special commendation from the Commissioners for “five years of highly efficient service” over the previous seven years. He was assisted by his wife Jane as Workmistress and his two daughters Elizabeth and Mary as Monitresses. In 1899 Mr Kane had an annual salary of £70, Mrs Kane £12, Eliza £27 and Mary £16. By 1901, Elizabeth was the Junior Assistant Mistress and received £49; Harriet Kane was also a Monitress but Mrs Kane had given up her position. Mr Kane moved to another school in 1907.
School was open from 10am to 3pm, with 30 minutes break for lunch at 12pm. There were five desks or forms, 10 feet and 7 inches in length each, for the 61 pupils. The same desks were still there in 1917, when concern was expressed by the inspector that they were too big for the very small children. Coal was burned in the fireplaces, and later, turf. Eventually, a grant arrived for fireguards for the fireplaces. In 1904, it was suggested that water closets might replace the privies, but there was uncertainty as to who would pay for the water to flush these.
Over the early years, various “epidemics” of whooping cough, measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever and flu closed the school for weeks at a time.
The school building remained much the same over the next 90 years, although indoor toilets and central heating were installed. In 1964 there were renovations and in 1989, an extension added a third classroom. In 2004 a prefab was placed in the playground.
Finally, in 2015 we were lucky enough to move to a brand new school in Summerhill! We are so lucky!