A portrait of Holycross - the schools

Old Schools in Holycross
A letter written by Edward Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, to the Duke of Leinster became the basis for Primary Education in Ireland in 1831.

A letter written by Edward Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, to the Duke of Leinster became the basis for Primary Education in Ireland in 1831.

Following the Stanley Letter a Board of Commission of National Education was established. Under its direction the first school was built in Holycross in 1836. It was a two-teacher school.

The girls were taught in the top storey and the boys below. Later it became co-ed. Enormous classes and very poor resourses were the order of the day. It served as a school until the early 1960ʼs when the ʻnew ʼschool was built. Today it is a private residence but the footprint of the original school

is apparent.

At the height of the Famine in 1847 there were 150 pupils in Holycross School. The total number of pupils in the Parish was 490. Today it is about half that!

The quarry at the back of the old school is supposed to be the source of the stone for the reconstruction of the Abbey in the 1400ʼs. The Butlers of Ormond were the wealthy patrons of that major restoration and was necessitated by the stream of pilgrims to the Abbey to venerate the Relic of the Holy Rood. The top masons of the day were engaged to carve the blue limestone from the local quarry.

The ʻNew Schoolʼ was built in the early 1960ʼs and was officially opened on 6th April 1964. It had 140 pupils back then. The principal at that time was Mr. Paddy McSweeney. There were two assistants: Mrs. Roger Dwan and Miss Mary Gould. This meant that they had an average of 47 pupils per teacher. Today the principal is Mr Gerard Corbett. He and his staff cater for the education of about 200 children. Attached to the school is Gort na nÓg, a

modern childcare facility. It caters for children of preschool age up to 5 years and the Afterschool Club is for 4 to 12 year olds. Education in Holycross has moved forward a long way since 1836.Any group that would like to take ʻA Village Walkʼthrough Holycross should contact 086

1665869 or email holycrossabbeytours@gmail.com.