History of the School - Sallins National School

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History of the School

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St. Laurence’s National School, Sallins.
(Scoil Naomh Lorcain, Na Sollain.)

St Laurence’s N.S., Sallins  opened its doors in early September 1978. It was designed as an eight classroom school with G. P. room, principal’s office, bookroom, staffroom, medical room, teachers’ toilets, kitchen and storeroom. The Department of Education, which supervised the building, would only allow six of the eight classrooms to be built for 1978 even though we had projected figures to show that the eight rooms would be needed within four years of construction. There were five teachers in the school in 1978, P.  Cunningham, M. Hogan, R. Mc Mahon (now R.  Murphy), M.  Brennan  and E. Mc Evoy.  D. Boyle joined the staff in September 1979 so our six rooms were fully occupied from then on.

The cost of construction was £150,750 of which the parish contribution was £16,750. Mc Goughs of Naas built it and Thompson & Partners, Limerick were the architects. It was officially blessed and opened on October 23rd 1978 by Bishop Lennon.  Dept Officials, builders, architects, staff and other guests and parishioners attended. There was a dinner and celebration in Lawlors Hotel, Naas afterwards.

What a change it was for children and school staff to have, at long last, a state of the art new school. Each room was carpeted and had its own toilets for pupils and there was no intrusive noise from other rooms as each classroom was separated from the next. It was a big change from the old school with its outdoor toilets, timber floors where every noise in any room was a disturbance to all the others. From the teachers point of view it was wonderful to have a staff room where they could go for breaks, to have their own private staff toilets and to have an office with a phone.

The old National school in Sallins; which is now the Community centre, was in the two story stone building beside the Church. This building was first an old police barracks according to stories before it became the school around the beginning of the 1900s or even earlier.

There were two separate schools there - a boys and a girls - with separate principals until they were amalgamated in 1972. The last principal of the boys’ school was M. O Connor and Miss Doyle was the last principal of the girls’ school. M. O Connor retired in 1972 and Miss Doyle became the first principal of the amalgamated schools.  Peadar Cunningham took over when Miss Doyle retired in 1974 and was principal until he retired in 2004. Noel Lanigan is now principal.

What is now the parochial house was the principal’s residence and M.  O Connor was the last principal to live there. It then became the parochial house when Sallins became a parish in 1972. Up to 1972 Sallins Church was the second church in Naas parish – there was no church in Ballycane then. All parts of Sallins as far as the canal  were then in Naas parish.

When Sallins became a parish areas of Naas, Caragh, Clane and Kill parishes were combined to form the parish of Sallins. Father Laurence Newman was the first P.P. of Sallins and he was responsible for getting the new school built. It is called St. Laurence’s N. S. because of  this. He was P.P. until 1981 when Father Colum Swan took over. Fr Newman became P.P. of Newbridge and later moved to Mountrath. Father Swan retired in 2004 and Father Tom McDonnell became parish priest. A couple of years after this the Parish priest of Naas, Fr Lennon, retired and Fr McDonnell then became parish priest of the combined parishes of Naas, Sallins  and Two Mile House.

The two rooms in the original plans, bringing the school up to eight classrooms, were finally sanctioned for building in late 1981 but due to shortage of Government money were not actually added until 1984. It was ready for September of that year and cost £75,600 of which the parish had to find £9,000.

A ninth classroom was added in 1993. Funding for a prefab  was only granted on this occasion but Parish funds plus some fundraising enabled us to build a permanent classroom which was ready for September 1993.

Due to large housing development in the parish in the mid to late 90s school came under great pressure to accommodate the numbers of pupils expecting places. Two prefab classrooms were added for September 1997 and two more for Sept 1998.

Another problem arose round about 1997 or 1998 as well. The roof of the original school building began leaking in places. Board of Management requested that the Board of Works carry out a survey of the roof and the outcome was that a new roof was required for the whole building. This was to cost £118,000 of which parish was expected to provide £17,000. Parish and Board of Management were not pleased that the roof should fail in a school that was only built in 1978 and they were even less pleased at having to find £17,000 to repair it. In subsequent negotiations the parish contribution was reduced to £13, 900. Kane and Smyth were given the work and it was completed in July and August 1999.

With the increase in numbers expecting accommodation in our school the Board of Management had put in an urgent request for a 7 room extension to bring our school to 16 mainstream classrooms. We were already accepting two Junior infant classes each September by this time. With the development of Special Education and appointment of resource and remedial teachers there was also a need to accommodate these. A amall prefab was sited in front of the school for this in 2001 and we got an even smaller extension to this prefab in 2002.
Department of Education granted permission for the extension in Autumn 1999 and Paul Quilligan, Architects were given the job of drawing the plans. The parish contribution towards this extension was set at £25,000 but as £13,900 had already been paid when the roof was repaired only another £11,100 was required. This was great relief for the parish which had done tremendous work in the previous few years at fundraising. An annual barbecue was run with help from local G.A.A., about £20,000 was raised through taking part in the Diocesan annual draw and various quizzes, whist drives, an auction and other functions  were held.

Despite the alarming growth in schoolgoing population at this time the Department of Education was still dragging its feet and the building did not begin until summer of 2004 and it was ready for occupation in 2005. From September 2003 on school had to take in three Junior Infant classes each year. This meant more prefab classrooms had to be provided.  Another extension to bring the school up to twenty four mainstream classrooms with all additional accommodation needed for same was sanctioned in 2005 and completed in 2008.

The school now has state of the art accommodation for 24 mainstream classes - which enables it to admit three Junior Infant classes each September – plus sufficient quality space for all resource, language and learning support groups. It also has a lovely well equipped library, big GP hall and plenty storage space.

Some other noteworthy events in the life of  Scoil Naomh Lorcain are worth mentioning.
The painting of one wall of the original GP room with the aid of a grant and artist (Mark Reilly)  from the Arts Council was undertaken by pupils of 5th and 6th  classes in May 1983. Scenes from the locality are featured in this and it can still be seen. Total cost of materials, etc was £110 – money well spent!!!

School uniforms – navy blue jumpers, light blue shirts and grey trousers for the boys; navy blue jumpers or cardigans, light blue blouses and grey skirts for the girls – were introduced in 1980. School crest was designed and added to the uniform by 1990.

Footpath from the village to the school on the canal side of the road was put in in 1983.

Caretaker and Secretary scheme (part-time) under the auspices of Manpower ; the forerunner of FAS; came into operation about 1985 for 8 classroom schools. L. Blanchfield was our first caretaker and B. Farrell took over from him. B. Daly and Kevin Connolly had alternating stints after that until Kevin got the permanent job in 2002. Kevin is still with us.

T. McGrath was our first Secretary and B.  Dunne took over when she left. B. Dunne was made permanent in 2002 also when the scheme was changed and Dept. of Education were now to provide funds to enable schools to employ Secretary and Caretaker. Blanch left in June 2003, Marion  Jackson began in Sept. 2003 and is still with us as well.

In the early 1980s school began to have problems with break-ins. This continued right up to 1989 when the administration block was unfortunately gutted in a fire started by vandals who broke in on the night of May 14th. It cost almost £40,000 to reconstruct that section of the school. More than the monetary loss however was the fact that valuable school records dating back to nearly 1900 were destroyed in this fire.

The EEC introduced a milk scheme for all schools wishing to avail of it in 1982. Each participating child would receive a small carton of milk each school day at a nominal cost. School decided to participate and Mrs. Conway Behan was contracted to supply the milk. She was a legendary milk supplier around Naas and surrounding areas at that time. She has since passed to her eternal reward and was grandmother to Mrs. Davy who is a member of our teaching staff.

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