The present National School, Scoil Eoin Baiste, stands in the centre of Kilbrin village, on an acre and a quarter site. At present it is a five-teacher school with 131 pupils on roll for the year 1992-93. Along with the five classrooms, it is surrounded by a large play area, comprising both a tarmacadam area and a green area. Within these bounds, also, is an enclosed basketball court and an outdoor shelter. The pupils attending the school come from all areas within the parish. The area is served by two school buses under the control of Bus Eireann.

Up to 1972, there were two schools in Kilbrin parish, Ballygraddy and Curraghs. In the late 1960’s the condition of both schools greatly deteriorated. As a consequence, both schools needed to `be replaced. The policy of the Department of Education, at the time, was to amalgamate two-teacher schools into larger groupings. Curraghs was a two-teacher school. The teachers were Mrs.Eibhlin Ryan and Miss.Margaret Dillon. Ballygraddy was a three-teacher school, the teachers being Padraig O’Riain, Mrs.Margaret Goggin and Mrs.Eileen Hannon. After consultation, it was decided by the Parish Priest, Canon O’Callaghan, to build one school at Ballygraddy. Geographically, it suited the people of Ballygraddy but, of course, the people of Curraghs felt a little hard done by the decision. It meant travelling a long distance to school.

After much consideration, a meeting was held at John Dunne’s shop. At that meeting were John J.O’Donoghue, Dan Buckley, John Dunne and the late Maurice Cashman, all of whom had children attending Ballygraddy School at the time. It was decided to approach Canon O’Callaghan to settle the dispute, and after a discussion, it was suggested by the delegation to erect the school in Kilbrin, which would be a more central location. He finally agreed to hold a vote among the people of the parish. 95% of the people were in favour of building the school in Kilbrin. It could be argued that it had the effect of uniting the parish and helping to promote and expand the village itself to its present state.

The site, in a prime location in the centre of the village, was purchased from Con Cronin and the school itself was built by Dan Buckley and Co. of Kilbrin. Among those involved in its construction were John Sheahan, David Browne, the late Con O’Connell, Tom Fitzgerald, and Bill Reidy. It was opened in September, 1972. It contained four classrooms, a staffroom, store-room, toilet facilities, cloakrooms and a kitchen area. In the centre of the building was the general purpose area. At its inception, Fr.Murnane was the school Manager with Padraig O’Riain as Principal, assisted by Mrs.Eibhlin Ryan, Mrs.Margaret Goggin and Mrs.Eileen Hannon.

Fr.Kelleher arrived in Kilbrin in 1974. When Mrs.Eileen Hannon moved to Ballyclough in 1975 she was replaced by Mrs.Marie Duane. Because of the rules governing the amalgamation of two schools, the Department had to provide transport for the school children, so two buses served the area. As the years progressed the hardcore area or the play area began to show signs of wear and tear, but I suppose, due to many projects being undertaken in the parish, its replacement was held off`. Mr.Padraig O’Riain retired as Principal of the school in 1981, to be succeeded by Mrs. Eilbhlin Ryan. The assistant position was filled by Mrs.Nora Mary O’Riordan. After ten great years of service, Fr.Finbarr Kelleher was succeeded in the parish by Fr.Eamonn Barry.

Numbers in the school had really been on the increase. On reaching 153 on roll, a fourth assistant was required. To accomodate the extra teacher, it was decided to erect a partition room within the area of the general purpose area. It was argued by the Department that these numbers would not be sustained and, as such, would not sanction a permanent structure. Mrs.Mary Cashman took up her position at the beginning of January, 1986.

During the second half of 1985, there were problems with the flat roof` and the original windows needed to be replaced. This work was carried out by Heflin Construction at a cost of around £16,000. A further £700 was spent on providing a shelter in the school yard. Much of work was done voluntarily by Denny Kearney and Co. The final phase of development was the building of the basketball court and finishing of the resurfacing of the school yard. Up to £18,000 was spent on both of these undertakings. The facilities have brought the school up to a very high standard and are being widely used by the children today.

Further changes took place in staffing along the line. In June 1988, Mrs.Eileen Ryan vacated her position as Principal to be replaced by Sean O’Gorman and in January, 1991, Mrs.Margaret Goggin was replaced by John Hannon. This was a significant milestone, in that the last link with the original staff was broken. The school, also, had its fourth Manager, when Fr.Anthony O’Brien replaced Fr.Eamonn Barry in 1990. Long may the school and its teachers continue to look after the educational needs of the children of Kilbrin. Le cúnamh Dé.


Sean O’Gorman

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