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St Malachy's Glencull Primary School, Ballygawley

Investment at Glencull

20th May 2019

Investment at Glencull

A New Look for one of Ireland’s oldest National School buildings.

The children at St Malachy’s Primary School Glencull were excited to learn that their school will see a major investment in the school building over the summer.

The investment will provide much needed facilities to improve and extend the school environment which has served their community for over 185 years.

With an investment of over half a million pounds, the new building will house state-of-the-art facilities that will help accommodate the growing population at St Malachy’s. Over the last ten years the school population has tripled in size.

The project will include the addition of a new entrance lobby and foyer as well as the replacement of two existing classrooms. The addition of a new front entrance will ensure a warm welcome for all visitors. A new toilet block and cloakroom area will provide for the extra classes at Glencull, which has grown from a two teacher school in 2013, to a four teacher school in September 19.

Finally, the children at St Malachy’s were delighted to learn that the project will also see the installation of a brand new ‘Ball Wall’ beside their schools football pitch, another improvement to their top class play facilities.

The project will also see the total refurbishment of one of the oldest National School buildings in Ireland. The room that will now house a refurbished classroom was originally built in 1833 as part of a ‘The national system of education’ established by the state in 1831. This meant that children no longer had to attend fee paying schools or charity schools. Instead they could attend a local primary school. The government gave a grant which paid for almost all of the building costs of new national school in Glencull in 1833.

The original school building was described as being 30ft x 19ft (outside dimensions). This was a two-story building with external stairs outside where the kitchen is now housed. This building accommodated 88 pupils when it was first opened. It seems that there were only boys attending the school at this point, so all 88 were male.

Upon inspection in March 31st 1835 by the Education authorities, who had supplied some of the money for the building, the building was deemed unfinished. However, by 25th of September of the same year the authorities reported, “The portion of the building left unfinished by the late Patron (Rev. Mulgrew who had passed away) is now completed.”

It is also noted that in November of 1835 a girls’ school had now opened. The inspectors pointing out the girls were being taught upstairs saying that “The upper room is badly lighted and too low”.

During the period of the 1920s when The Government of Ireland Act introduced partition to Ireland and gave control of northern schools to Belfast, ‘Glencull National School’ became ‘Glencull Elementary School’.

The school building remained unchanged for around 90 years until the late 1920s when the then ‘manager’ Fr MacCann applied for a grant for the refurbishment of the older building and the building of a new classroom and a boundary wall to create an enclosed playground. This meant the school was no longer two storeys. One wall from the original 1833 build was demolished and the second room added in its place. The wooden partition being added later making separate teaching areas. The new chimney that serviced the two solid fuel burning stoves can be seen in the photograph of the school taken after the death of Cardinal MacRory.

By 1954 another extension was needed and another classroom was added. By 1965 a new indoor toilet was completed. An additional mobile classroom was acquired in 1982 and a second one was installed on 14th October 1991. During the 1980s, Glencull Primary School changed its name and became St. Malachy’s Primary School Glencull.

The governors of St Malachy’s are delighted with the support from the Department of Education regarding the imminent improvements to the school estate at St Malachy’s. This is part of the Board of Governors wider strategy to continue providing top quality education in the wider Ballygawley area, in light of the growing population.

This new addition to the building will be another stage in the evolution at St Malachy’s as it’s pupils look to the future. Sarah in P4 thinks, “Our new classrooms will be amazing, and we can’t wait to see what they will look like when they are finished”.

Representing the student council, Daíthí in P5 said, “We are looking forward to having our say on what will be in our classrooms and the new entrance will make arriving at school totally different. The new Ball Wall is really going to help us with our skills in lots of different sports”