History of St. Brigid's

A brief history of
St. Brigid's Post Primary School

Prior to the Vocational Education Act being passed in 1930, Vocational Education was available in Athy. Technical Education, as it was then described, was provided through afternoon and evening classes in a school which was situated on the corner of the present St. Michael's Catholic Church site.

After 1922, certificates to successful examination students were issued by County Kildare Technical Instruction Committee Mr. John R. Hasall was Headmaster of the county and Mr. H. Painting was in charge of the Athy area. Mr H. Painting designed the Garda Siochana badge and this badge was cast at Dutie Large's Foundry Athy.

In 1940, the new Vocational School, now known as St. Brigid's Post Primary School, was blessed by the late Archdeacon Mc Donnell and formally opened by the Minister for Education Thomas O' Deirig. The school was built by the Carbury Family of Athy.

In 1940 there was an enrolment of forty students. Mr. T. C. Walsh was headmaster. He had previously held the appointment of Headmaster of South Kildare in the old school.

Staff members included Mr. S. Cullinane. Mr Cullinane was the prime mover in the foundation of Macra na Feirme, and the headquarters of this organisation was at first at this school.

Mr. T. C. Walsh resigned the Headmastership in 1950, and was replaced by Mr. T. Mc Donnell. The latter was a founder member of Macra na Tuaithe, and the organisations first meeting was held at this school. For many years he was actively involved in the Vocational Teachers' Association (Teachers Union of Ireland today). At various times he held every position in the Association and was President for two years.

Due to increased enrolment at the school, classrooms had to be divided and pre-fabricated rooms erected to accommodate the students. An extention was built in 1963-1964.

The school has provided a wide variety of Adult Education Courses through the years. For three consecutive years (1968 - 1971) a very successful work study course was provided. The Irish Work Study Institute congratulated the school staff and stated that the course was one of the most successful in Ireland. A boat-building class held in 1960-1961, was noted for its enthusiasm and dedication. Thirteen students attended for four hours per night, six nights a week. Three boats were launched in June 1961. The first Winter Farm School in Ireland was held in this school in 1959-1960. Fourteen students enrolled and instruction was given in all aspects of farming by members of the school staff and instructors from Co. Kildare Committe of Agriculture. Day release courses for apprentices in Motor Car Engineering, Fitting and Turning were also provided. Students sat for Department of Education examinations at Junior, Intermediate and Senior Grades.

Intermediate and Leaving Certificate courses were introduced in 1966 and 1969 respectively.

A full-time one year, Post Leaving Certificate Secretarial Course was introduced by the late Mr. P. O'Faolain, who later held the post of Head of Business Studies at Austin Waldron Regional Technical College, Carlow.

For a number of years, prior to the introduction of the Leaving Certificate course, students were successfully prepared for G.C.E. "O" level examinations.

Mr. John J. Doyle succeeded Mr.Mc Donnell as Principal in 1976 and oversaw the introduction of a very successful work-related educational project which was conducted with a group of students during 1978 - 1979. For one day each week students were released from school to gain experience in a wide variety of work situations in factories, businesses, farming, etc. As a result, they all found satisfactory positions. This type of course formed the basis of for the Vocational Preparation and Training Programmes introduced by the Department of Education in recent years in all second-level schools. Since then, this course has continued to provide a very worthwhile educational experience for up to thirty students each year.

The second extension - which provided a Library, Science Room, Home Economics Room, Art Room, Mechanical and Technical Drawing Room, Woodwork Room, Audio-Typing Room, General Classrooms, Assembly Area, Staff Room and Offices was built in the mid-1980's and opened in October 1989 by the Minister for Education Mrs Mary O'Rourke, T.D.

The provision of remedial and special education has always been a feature of the school's work.

Mr Doyle handed over the reins to the present Principal Mr Richard Daly in 1993.

There is a wide variety of recreational facilities available to students. Competitions are organised and prizes awarded to the winners in each activity. Teams compete in county and national competitions.

From its humble beginnings in 1940 with forty students, during the past decade the day school has consistantly had an enrolment in excess of three hundred and seventy five.

This school and its staff are still at the forefront of education in Ireland having been one of the first schools in the country to introduce Technology as a subject in the Junior Certificate Examinations. In 1995 we were one of eighty schools country wide to introduce the new Leaving Certificate Applied Programme of the Department of Education.

Adult education has experienced a revival in the past number of years to the point where almost three hundred students took evening courses in areas such as Computer Applications, Upholstery, Cookery, Woodwork, Typing, Councelling, etc. in the academic year 1995/1996.

A Business and Education Link has been implemented between the school, I.B.E.C.the IRISH BUSINESS and EMPLOYERS CONFEDERATION and Minch Norton Malt Ltd. Athy.

We are also providing training in Information Technology and Computer Applications to the staff of TEGRAL BUILDING PRODUCTS and TEGRAL METAL FORMING.

Thirty six people have availed of this programme to date and we view this as an on-going programme which we see expanding in the future.

September 1996 see's the introduction of the new Elementary Junior Certificate to the school which caters for students who have difficulty coping with the present Junior Certificate Programme.

Four former members of staff later became Chief Executive Officers of Vocational Education Committee's:- This brief history of St. Brigid's was compiled by Mr Eddie Tubridy Vice Principal (retired).


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