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St. Patrick’s National School 1812-1910

By Sheila Crehan

There was a school established in 1812 in the chapel grounds at Slane. It was financed by parochial subscription. The school came under the National Board before 1835 and remained in use until the present old building was erected in 1847 on a site obtained from the Marquess Conyngham. This tastefully redecorated building beside the church is now used as a Montessori school and meeting hall. The following is a very short account of the history of that building up to 1910.

1846 (ED/2/34); – granted to build two rooms each 34’x 18’x 9’ for 200 children. – granted to furnish. Taken into connection by the board under the management of Rev. D. O’Brien, the original applicant, with the Marquis of Conyngham as patron.

    Slane School Expected Attendance 1846

No. of Schools :  Male  1,  Female 1

Expected Attendance:  100 Male,  100  Female

Aid Granted Building :    £134.00 Pounds

Fitting Up :     £15.00 Pounds

Local Contribution:     £74.50 Pounds

1848 (ED/2/119) – building was leased to the Commissioners for three lives, or 31 years. The three lives were, The Queen, Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales.

1850 Teachers – teachers names were Patrick O’Brien and Mary Brophy. Female teacher was 20 years old. Male teacher was 29 years old. Male teacher had not been to Model School. The female did attend.

Questions asked by the board of Commissioners. (1850)

Q. What is the amount of local funds towards payment of teachers’ salaries?

A. None, except the weekly contributions of the pupils.

Q. Do the scholars pay anything, and what?

A. Generally one penny per week.

The average weekly attendance in 1850 was 45 males and 40 females.

1853 (ED/2/106) – Here there is reference to the Manager being admonished because Divine Worship was celebrated in the school house on two occasions while the chapel was being repaired. Commissioners required that in future the rule should be strictly adhered to.

1855 – it was recommended that a partition wall be erected in the school grounds to separate males and females. –

1858 – £9 – 4s – 0d would be paid for dividing wall between playgrounds on expenditure of £13 – 16s – 0d.

1859 – a teacher admonished for not adhering to the arrangements of the time table.

1874 – a teacher fined £1 – 0s – 0d for not keeping the accounts of the attendance in accordance with rule. Teacher cautioned respecting the absence slate. (4th Practical Rule). – Results fees threatened.

1877 – 5% deducted from results fees for unsatisfactory proficiency and neglect of penmanship.

Report upon application for salary to assistant teacher in Slane School (Female)

 Name of teacher                          Alice Mathews

 Age                                             19 Years

 Date of appointment                1-10-1876

 School Room size                       34 x 18ft.

  No. of females on roll                   72

 Average daily attendance          50.8

 Names of other assistants/monitors     None

– granted £25-0s-0d salary with share of result fees to Alice Mathews as assistant from 1-10-1876 to 13-2-1877.

1903 (ED/9/16272) – grant towards the cost of five forms for school 4851. A grant of 15s-9d on expenditure of £1-3s-8d. Grant was approx 2/3 of total expenditure.

1903 (ED/9/15552) – grant of five pounds towards the cost of providing a press on expenditure of seven pounds ten shillings for storage of science apparatus.

1904 (ED/9/18298) The manager Rev. John O’Rafferty applied for permission to build two classrooms and also for a grant to enable him to do the work. There was quite some correspondence between the Office of Public Works, the National Board of Education, the inspector and the manager regarding this application. The following is a letter from the Office of Public Works to the National Board of Education regarding the matter. The letter has been reproduced with kind permission of the National Archives.

 “Office of Public Works


18th May 1905



Adverting to your letter of the 31st March last, relative to Slane National School, County Meath, I am directed by the Commissioners of Public Works to enclose herewith a plan showing the additional classrooms proposed. The two rooms would measure 18’ x 20’ and as will be seen from the plans access to each could be had without entering the existing schoolrooms.

The present staircase leading to the first floor is steep and dangerous, and a new staircase, as shewn, would be required. The removal of the existing staircase would increase the length of the existing schoolrooms. Vestibules for hats, coats and fuel stores might be provided as shewn.

The present buildings appear to have been erected about the year 1847. They are in fair repair, having regard to their age. The walls and roof appear to be sound. The floor in the boys’ school is good, but that of the girls’ school requires new boards. In the boys’ school a new ceiling is required. The lighting in the latter school is defective, the windows being very small and ill adapted for both light and ventilation. New windows of an improved pattern are essential, and those of the boys’ school should be raised, and the ventilation of both rooms should be improved by providing inlet and outlet ventilators. Furthermore, the walls of the girls’ school should be wainscoted.

The cost of carrying out the works mentioned is estimated at 440-10s-0d. This would include the cost of supplying ten desks, each 12’6” long, two tables and two chairs for the new rooms. If in view of the foregoing, the Commissioners of National Education consider it desirable to proceed with the scheme a new lease would be necessary, as the present lease terminates with the life of His Majesty the King. The survey map of the site, enclosed, shows that the boundary measurements do not agree with those given in the abstract of the lease. The following figures indicate the discrepancy

                                             Lease               Map of Site

     Frontage                         84’ 0”              73’ 8”

     Rere                                  96’ 0”              110’ 0”

     Front to Rere             303’ 0”             289’ 0”

                                                                     205’ 6”

The site is at present, enclosed at the front on one side by a masonry wall, and at the rere and the remaining side by a whitethorn hedge. The Board think it desirable, however to draw the attention of your department to the question as to whether, in view of the large expenditure, and the age of the buildings, their renovation and extension should be further considered, or whether it would not be better to provide an entirely new building, where all the accommodation required could be obtained on the ground floor. In this connection it may further be added that the school on the ground floor is only ten feet high and that the upper floor is twelve feet high. Part of the height of the latter is reduced by the slope of the roof there being only nine foot two inches at the side walls. The present site is sufficiently large for all apartments on the ground floor and the building could be erected in close proximity to the road.

                                                                   I am Gentlemen,

                                                                   Your obedient servant,


The Office of National Education replied to the Board of Works and stated that owing to the lack of local funds the manager would not be able either to build a new school-house or to carry out the proposed extensive scheme of improvement. There was an inquiry if the additional classroom accommodation could be provided for one hundred and eighty pounds as sixty pounds was the utmost that the manager could guarantee.

In October 1905 the Office of National Education wrote to the manager, Rev. J. O’Rafferty P.P., stating that from reports it had received from the Board of Works, it appeared the building of a whole new school would be the best course to follow, in view of the large cost involved in rendering the existing structure suitable. The letter went on to say that as the local aid required for the erection of a new building or the enlargement and improvement of the old one was not forthcoming, and that as the funds placed at the disposal of the Commissioners for grants towards the erection, improvement etc. of vested schools were fully engaged to meet existing heavy obligations in respect of such grants, it was regretted that the Manager’s application could not be further considered.

The lease of the school expired on the death of King Edward VII in 1910. The Commissioners decided to surrender the premises to the owner – the Marquess Conyngham. In December 1910 the inspector Mr. C. Bartley handed over the keys of the school in the presence of the Manager to Mr. E. G. Matchett, the landlord’s representative in Slane.

Managers – Rev. D. O’Brien was manager until 1857, when he died. He was succeeded by Rev. P. Callery P.P. He died in 1882 and Rev. P. Kelly was manager until he died in 1895. Rev. Patrick Briody was then appointed manager.

Teachers – Mr. Patrick Madden, Mr. Michael Walsh, Mr. Paddy Healy, Mrs. Shaw, Mr. Christy Welsh, Ms. Josephine Hackett ( Cooney), Miss Peg O’Connell, Miss Murphy, Miss Anne May Coyle, Miss Peggy Daly, Miss Sinead Meehan, Miss Donegan, Ms. Attracta McGoey, Miss Sugrue, Miss Finnerty, Miss Tully.

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