The Old National School

Lawrencetown National School

by John Downey

It took quite a while for the national education system to become established in Lawrencetown. The first application was made on the 10/12/1850 by Rev. John Usher. He had a room 31 x 16 x 8 ft. built from stone and mortar with a thatch roof. The teacher at the time was one Thomas Murphy. It would appear that the school was moved to another premises and a Pat Bligh is recorded as teaching here in 1855. He was succeeded by Honoria Lyons. As the number of boys in attendance grew, pressure was put on the manager to replace her with a school master. The Rev. Manager resisted this for some time requesting a while longer to find a replacement.

The school was struck off the register on 30/10/'57. Capt. Walter Lawrence who signed himself a gentleman and Roman Catholic wrote to the commissioners on the 24th April, 1859. He proposed a school for 80 pupils on a site which he would donate and that he would also pay for the building of the school.

The site proposed was that of the old Fairgreen where the Ballinasloe and Banagher roads meet. The junction of these reads formed an apex. Capt. Lawrence proposed cutting off this apex making portion of it part of the high road with the remainder as a plot of 100 x 80 ft. forming the school site.

Archdeacon Butler had at the time 26 children mainly those of Scotch labourers of Mr. Allan Pollock, Lismany in a school at the Episcopal Chapel of Ease in Lawrencetown under the auspices of the Church Education Society. The Rev. Patrick Duane held a school at this time in his own residence for 60 - 80 children.

In 1861 the Board of Commissioners grant of 150 was offered to build a one room school total cost 225 on the site previously offered by Capt. Lawrence. Reluctance to build on the part of the local priest caused Lawrencetown to be struck of again on 24/4/1863 and the lease put in a safe. A further application was made by Rev. T. Coen in 1865. The school at the time was being run in two dwelling houses, the boys' school was in a room on the ground floor of the Rev. Manager's house while the girls' school was conducted in the ground floor of an unoccupied adjoining house. These were located between Cogavins and Connollys of today. The teachers were Thomas Kilkenny and Bridget Farrelly who received between 1 and 2 shillings weekly. There were 98 pupils in attendance when inspected but 149 were on the rolls. Religion was taught from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day and from 10 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday.

Above, a stone can be seen on the wall....

The old school, on left, is now used as a community hall after been refurbished in 1995

Lawrencetown National Schools

1867 - 1940

This application would appear to have been unsuccessful because yet another application was made in 1867. As was normal with such applications applicants were asked if they would allow other religious persuasions to attend their school and allow visits by their pastors, or even invite the latter to become involved in the establishment of such a school. The Rev. T. Coen was agreeable to all these proposals, He wrote to the Rev. Mr. Butson and received the following reply:

"I have every possible objection to the establishment of a National School for to sanction it would be decidedly contrary to my conscience and wholly opposed to the oath which I have taken which renders it imperative on me to drive out popery by every means I can."

On reading this Inspector P. Quinlan recommended immediate acceptance of the application. A new school house presently the old school hall was built at this time, It consisted of two rooms 24 by 18 ft. each. The inspector considered it a well-built house   with three large windows in each room, boarded floors and ceilings and plastered walls. The first teachers in this school were John Kelleher and Bridget Farrelly. The attendance was listed as 62 but 100 were present at time of inspection. Protestant children retired at 3:06 p.m. when Religious instruction began. Rent to Capt. Lawrence was 2 annually. There were 10 children attending Kylemore school at this time.

The present National School was built in 1940 to replace the old school and this year it turns the millennium.   Click here to see the Millennium 6th class

There are three registers which refer to the old schools. The first is for "Lawrencetown Male National School, Parish of Lawrencetown, County Galway" and covers the period 1870 to 1898.  The second is "Lawrencetown Female National School, Parish of Lawrencetown, County Galway" and covers the period 1880 to 1923. The third is for "Lawrencetown National School - Male 1887 to 1923 and Mixed 1924 to 1936. The first two are in the Database and are searchable using the form on the menu (left).