North / South Schools Link - An Historical Perspective

The Technology used in the recent schools link up during the visit of the Prime Minister and Taoiseach to St Aidans brings to mind a technological break through which occurred on the site of this school in the early part of the 20th century.

Both St Aidans and Dublin City University were built on the site of the old Albert College, Glasnevin. Originally the college was an Agricultural Model School and eventually it became part of the Agriculture Faculty of University College, Dublin. In the early 20th century Professor Paul Murphy made a significant scientific breakthrough in the study of Phytophthera infestans, the fungus which causes blight in potatoes. In the definitive work on the Irish Famine - The Great Hunger - the author Cecil Woodham Smith states that in view of the fact that Ireland suffered so much from the blight it was 'by a stroke of poetic justice that it was in Ireland that much of the final research was carried out… at the Albert College in Glasnevin, Dublin".

Potato Famine 1847


In the 6th Century St Mobhi founded a monastery at Glasnevin (just behind the present Meteorological Office). He numbed among his students the Saints Columba (also known as Columcille) Canice, Kieron and Comgoll.

Since then, the area around St Aidans has become noted for the number of academic establishments. Beside us on Collins Avenue is Dublin City University (1989) which developed from the National Institute for Higher Education (NIHE, 1980). DCU was built on the grounds of the Albert College. Nearby St Patrick's College Drumcondra which was founded in 1875 moved to its present location 1883. St Mary's College, Marino (1904) was founded by the Christian Brothers to train its members as primary school teachers. Both of these institutions are linked with universities and offer degree courses. All Hallows College (1842) was founded by the Vincentian Fathers as a seminary and has become a third level institution in recent years offering degree courses. The Mater Dei Institute was founded in the 1970s to train teacher of religion to degree level. In addition to these academic institutions, the Meteorological Office and the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards offer high level scientific information for the benefit of the country.

The Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern was the first pupil on the roll book when St Aidans CBS first opened its doors in 1964. Since then Bertie has returned to the school on a number of occasions. In 1982,when he was Chief Whip to the Government, he returned to his old school to plant a tree in the school grounds (the tree is alive and well!!). Bertie was leader of the Fianna Fáil opposition when St Aidans new school building was officially opened by the Minister for Education Ms Niamh Bhreatnach and Archbishop of Dublin, Most Reverend Desmond Connell in October 1996.

In November 1997,Mr Ahern as Taoiseach launched Schools IT 2000 which opened up the Internet to schools nation-wide. The North-South Schools Link in November 1998 gave the Taoiseach a chance to show off his old school to the British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair.

T.P. Ward










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Copyright © 1998 St Aidans CBS
Last modified: February 25, 1999