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History of the School

St. Paul’s National School was opened in 1975.It catered for the catchment area of Collooney, Rathbarron, Ballisodare, Skreen and Ballymote. Skreen and Ballymote had already been amalgamated with Collooney on the Old Barrack Road site. The present site located in a plot between the Church of Ireland and Methodist churches was purchased from the Kelly family of Collooney. The Church of Ireland community was very pleased with the willingness of the Kelly family to facilitate this sale.


The success of the development of St. Paul’s School is due to the hard work and foresight of Archdeacon Ralph Stratford and Commander E. F. Cooper of Markree Castle. The school was opened debt free at the cost of £45,000. Ten-elevenths of this came from Government grants with the balance being raised locally.


The school was built with three classrooms and an adjacent general purpose room. However in 1975, when opened, the G.P. room acted as a fourth classroom to accommodate the 100 children. The Principal at time of opening was Mrs. J. Gillmor assisted by Mrs. D. Byers. They had both taught in the old Collooney school. They were joined by Mrs. I. Goulden from Rathbarron and Miss. D. Lillie from Ballisodare.


The school in St. Paul’s replaced a number of historic buildings. The original Collooney National School was recorded as being opened in 1823 by Miss. Cooper of Market Street “for the education of underprivileged children”. The school in Ballisodare, also built by the Cooper family, dates back to 1840. Leyney National School in Coolaney had been built around 1900. The schools in Woodfield, Ballymote and in Skreen were closed in 1972. A whole new transport system was put into place and funded by the Department, so that children could attend the new Central School.


St. Paul’s School was the first Church of Ireland central school West of the Shannon and it followed a trend to amalgamate the one teacher school houses into central schools. This had the advantage of providing a more practical working unit which would enable teachers and pupils to work together more effectively.


At its opening the aims of the school were set out. A speech read out on behalf of Mr. Richard Burke, T.D. Minister for Education stated “...Fundamentally and above all education is a matter of idealism, an activity directed to developing towards perfection all those attributes in the individual which are good and meritorious” .

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