Our Ould School
Its Place in History
Children have been coming to school in Grove Road forover six five decades. The Old School was built in 1953 and the Architect was Boyd Barrett. It was in the style of many of the Boyd Barrett Schools built at that time. It is north facing. It was built that way to capture as much of the sun as possible through the huge Georgian style windows to the rear thus ensuring maximum light and heat. This school design is dotted throughout Ireland and it is considered the first of the generic designs which was used by the Department.
While the water tower to the side is still in use, the shelter in the yard was demolished to make way for the prefabs which mushroomed due to the sudden expansion in the early 1970's.
At present the Old School is devoted to the self contained Reading Classes.
The Strike of '52
"Formal" education has existed in Malahide since the hedge school days. The original Malahide Schools (Boys and Girls) were housed in Old Street, at the rear of the St. Sylvester's Parish Church. In the 1940s the Girls moved to a new purpose built building on the Dublin Road, which enjoyed a panoramic view of the Castle Grounds. This school also had a Principal's residence. Naturally this was a source of great discontent to the boys, and indeed the teachers, who had to remain on in Old Street.
One hundred years after its foundation in 1846, it appears that conditions in the school building, which was now the Boys' School were somewhat less than adequate, with two teachers and eighty children working in the same room which was heated by a single fireplace. Such was the concern at the conditions in 1952 that a large group of parents withdrew their children from attendance thus ensuring their place in the history books as one of the first pupil strikes Ireland. The "striking" children were kept at home until a guarantee was given that work would start on a green-
The strike had the desired impact and a contract for the building of "The New Boys' School" on Grove Road was put in hand. It was a proud moment for the teachers and pupils when they marched in twos from the Old Street premises to their new school on July 1st. 1953. The boys carried with them their own belongings and all the classroom equipment.
On that day, there were 105 boys on rolls.
The School stands on land which originally belonged to the Talbot Castle Estate. The land was generously donated to the Catholic Parish by the Talbot Family from Malahide Castle, but not without conditions. A letter from the then Lord Talbot suggested that the walls of 3 feet "were insufficient and would most likely result in trespass or nuisance". It further requested that "the surrounding walls should be raised to a height of 8 to10 feet high to detain the unkempt urchins of the area" and felt "that this requirement was in no way unreasonable". However a reply from the Department of Education assured The Lord that 3ft high walls would be adequate to "contain" the pupils since they would be well supervised further adding that such high walls would "give the school a depressing prison-
The original Bill of Quantities prepared for the school stipulated a price of £6254-
Voluntary Subscriptions of 6d per week were collected from each household involved to augment the Parish contribution and on May 26th, 1954 (the Marian year) the new Boys School was officially opened on Grove Road.
Back to Our Roots
With the population explosion in the early 1970s, it quickly became apparent that the existing school was inadequate in size. For some years prefabs were added and, ironically, the Parish Hall was, once again, pressed into use as a classroom. In 1975, a new 16 room building, named after the recently canonised St. Oliver Plunkett, was built. This was a fitting choice of name in view of Oliver Plunkett's commitment to education and his family connection with the local Talbot family. A further 8 room extension was added in 1984 and in 1996 the wheel came full circle with classes once again back in the "old boys school"
The School in the Community
The importance of a good relationship between the school and the community it serves has long been recognised. A community whose mores and ideologies are served by its school will respond with positive encouragement and support.
St Oliver Plunkett school has a proud record of service to the Malahide community and we are acutely aware of the need to preserve the tradition. We strive at all times to keep the community aware of the work of the school and to involve them whenever possible. No opportunity is lost to involve the children in community projects and to encourage them to take part in social and environmental undertakings locally.
The history and traditions of the locality and the role of the Talbot family are also emphasised.
Remembering Times Past
Reminiscing on his arrival in Malahide the former Principal says "I well remember my arrival for interview at St. Sylvester's School. It was Saturday May 5th. A Lovely Summer's Day. I had never been to Malahide before. I was from the country and just graduating from St. Patrick's College of Education. A friend drove me out and we approached by The Castle Road. In that way we did not see Malahide Village and being a stranger I didn't know any different. For me it was like arriving at the small country school where I had received my own Primary education, like coming home. Here was this little 3 teacher country school away from the hustle and bustle of the town and city, or so I thought. I never imagined as I stood at those gates that this school would expand so much in such a short time and that one day I would be Principal.
My first class, all boys of course, was a mixture of Second and Third, with a total of 52 in all. Strangely that did not seem wrong in those times, it was the norm. My first year there was a great experience, and, before the end of that year, two more teachers had joined the school. Such was the rate of expansion that I lost my Second class group but still finished up with 50 in Third Class. (A Small class I was often reminded by the then Principal, Mr. Ray Cunningham)
I suppose the phenomenal growth in my first year there was indicative of the growth that would follow in the years ahead. Now with 36 teachers and 845 pupils it seems a life time ago since that bright May Day and yet the school still retains that same friendly caring atmosphere that made it so special when I first came."
Basil Boyd Barrett 1908 -
Basil Boyd Barrett, was born in Dublin 1908, the son of James Charles Boyd Barrett, an electrical engineer and his mother was Mary Josephine Robinson. He was educated in Dublin. In 1925 he became an apprentice and also an extern student at the School of Architecture at University College, Dublin, for two years, and attended the School of Art for four years. After working in the office of CHARLES DUNLOP, he was appointed an assistant architect in the Office of Public Works late 1934. The rest of his career was spent with the Office of Public Works, where his particular interest was school design. In 1947 he was appointed chief schools architect and revolutionised the concept of school design with his main emphasis on light in the classroom. He held that the more light and air children were exposed to, the greater their engagement. His design for a new prototype school was exhibited in 1952 and our school was one of the first built to this design. Strangely, Rush National School was opened on the same day but it was not built under the new design, having been planned years earlier, but due to the strike of '52 our school was rushed through the various stages and so benefitted from the new design with its iconic water tower feature and southerly facing classroom windows.