Education in Milltown, Past and Present

This is a brief history of education and schooling in the Milltown area since the beginning of the last century.

Education before the National School system.
The establishment of Milltown National School
The Early Years
A New School building
Teachers in Milltown National School since 1827
The Construction of the Present School building
Board of Management
Our Teachers
Extra-curricular activities


Education before the National School system.

Prior to the establishment of a comprehensive nationwide system of primary education, schooling was often provided in ‘independent’ schools, often called ‘hedge schools’. By the early nineteenth century it was increasingly rare for them to be held in the open air, unless during the summer months. The teachers had a very varied level of expertise and training and there was a corresponding range of thought material.

In 1824 there were no fever than twelve such ‘hedge schools’ operating in the Parish of Drumlane. In a report from the " Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry" published In 1826 the schools, teachers and numbers of pupils (in brackets) were listed as follows:

Deramfield (40), Charles O’Neill

Munea (40), Edward Roden

Corcanidos (60), Edw. Magaghran

Drummany (40), Mark Leddy

Drumnoose (60), Thomas Brady

Kilcunny (122), Peter Fitzpatrick

Fedara (28), Patrick Cox

Cornadara (19), Andrew McGovern

Derryvona (40), James Drummond

Quivvy (70), William Widdis

Kilcorby (30), Frank McGovern

Many of these schools were accepted by the Board of Education and became national schools. Those that weren’t struggled on for a short time and then closed down permanently.

As we have seen there was a ‘hedge school’ in existence in Monea in 1824. It was situated at Mortimers' Cross on the site now occupied by Donal Carlin's house. It was a rather large thatched house, one storey high. One room within the house was used as a classroom and the remaining rooms provided living accommodation for the Master and his family.

In 1827 the school. became connected with the Kildare Place Society. The Master, Edward Roden was admitted to the Society’s training school and at the end of his course graduated with a first class certificate of qualification. He received a grant of £13 from the Society to enable him to put a new coat of thatch on the school and to purchase much-needed furniture and equipment.

The establishment of Milltown National School

By January 1832 the link with the Kildare Place Society had been broken and an application was submitted to the new National Board of Education to have the school recognised as a national school. The application was made by three prominent leaders in the focal community: the parish priest of Upper Drumlane, Fr Nicholas Brady; Rev L.H. Fenner, or the Lawn, Belturbet, who was a minor landlord in Drumlane; and Major James Bailie, J.P. of Carrig Hill.

The completed application form gives us the following Information about the school:

Attendance: Summer: 65 Boys and 20 Girls; Winter: 60 Boys and 15 Girls

The school-house independently of the teacher's quarters, was 31 feet by 13 feet. On the south side there were 2 windows and on the north side there are 3 windows.

The school-house and teacher's house were erected by the teacher aided by a grant from the Kildare Place Society.

There were 14 cross desks or tables each 6 feet long, with a sloping desk along each wall from one extremity to the other with corresponding seats.’ It was capable of accommodating 70 scholars at seats.

It was emphasised that the house was in great want of thatch and that the windows were in a bad state of repair.

The application was submitted on 25 July. The school was accepted by the Board on 15 September and given the Name Milltown National School. It had been requested by the applicants that the teacher should receive an annual salary of £15 from the Board "that his rates might be lowered to 1/- per quarter in the Junior classes and 2/- in the senior classes". The Commissioners were not, however, so generous; they awarded Master Roden a salary of £10 per year.

The Early Years

Milltown remained a one-teacher school until 1838 when a female assistant was appointed. Master Edward Roden retired in the same year and was replaced, first by his son Philip, and then by another son, Edward Junior. His daughter Anne also taught until 1859.

In that year a strange incident occurred. A placard was found attached to the railings outside the church before Sunday Mass, which made some unflattering remarks about the parish priest, Fr O’Reilly. Fr O’Reilly had good reason to suspect the involvement of the two teachers. He was also the manager of the school and was instrumental in having them both dismissed. Edward Roden was later reappointed but his sister never taught again.

A New School building.

On May 8th 1862 an application was forwarded to the Commissioners, proposing that a new school-house capable of accommodating 150 pupils be erected in Monea on a site made available by Charles Brady. The Inspector's Report recommending the application described how the school-room was in a wretched, damp state in a ‘mudwall, rotten, ill-thatched cabin’ without any furniture or teaching equipment.

Construction work began in late 1862 and the new two-room schoolhouse was ready for occupation by the end of 1863. The cost for the entire building amounted to £449 18s. Of this sum £299.18.8 came by way of capital grant from the Education Board and the remainder from local contributions.

The New School was vested in the trusteeship of Dr James Browne, Bishop of Kilmore; the parish priest, Fr O’Reilly, and the landholder, Charles Brady of Monea.

The school was officially opened on the 17 December 1863. Edward Roden Jun. continued to teach there. He was joined by an 18 year old assistant, Mary O’Reilly, who already had two years’ teaching experience. in Tullyvin.

The 1863 School-house was destined to survive until 1973 when it was demolished to make way for the new central school, which was a prefabricated building and only lasted 14 years, then it was also demolished and replaced by the current building.

The need for a new school was caused by the closure of three other schools in the area, which were then amalgamated into the new Milltown National School.

Teachers in Milltown National School


Edward Roden 1824-38

Philip Roden 1839-44

Edward Roden jun.1845-74

John Campbell 1874-77

John Flood 1877-79

John Maguire 1879-83

Peter O’Reilly 1883-86

Patrick Smyth 1886-90

Peter Rogers 1890-91

Francis Fitzpatrick 1891-92

John Brady 1892-1928

Denis Houlihan 1928-32

Timothy O’Leary 1932-56

Denis Brady 1956-59

James Gaffney 1959-61

Michael McGinley 1961-73

Donal Gavigan l973-80

Philip Clarke 1981-


Mary Reilly 1838-40

Anne Roden 1842-59

Mary O’Reilly 1862-65

Rose A. Fitzsimons 1862-74

Margaret Daly 1874-75

Mary McCabe 1876-82

Maria Roden 1882-94

Susan McDonald 1894-1917

Mary O’Reilly 1917-33

Mary Fitzpatrick Leddy c.1907-41

Kathleen O’Connell 1941-

Mary O’Reilly

Mary O’Reilly

Rose McBrien

Bridie Walsh 1941-43

A.McCann 1943-52

Una Miles 1952-64

Breege Carr 1964-70

Eithne O’Reilly 1973-88

Eileen McCaffrey 1982-

Nuala Corrigan 1988-

The Construction of the Present School building

The school built in 1973 was only a pre-fabricated structure, and it soon fell into disrepair. Finally, in the summer of 1988 the local board of Management persuaded the Department of Education to build a new school. The architect was Noel Smith of Belturbet and the building contractor was local man Peter Maguire. Construction began shortly afterwards and it was finished by February of the following year.

The new school cost over £80,000. It can accommodate 80 pupils in three classrooms. There is also a library, kitchenette and staffroom, as well as all-weather playing facilities.

The school was opened on March 1, 1989 by John Wilson, then Minister for Transport and Tourism, who was acting on behalf of Minister for Education Mary O’Rourke. The opening was preceded by a concelebrated mass, attended by, amongst others, the Bishop of Kilmore Dr Francis McKiernan.

Amongst those also present at the opening were Deputy Andrew Boylan, Councillor Anthony Vesey and Fr Joseph Young.

The present school has 55 pupils on roll. In addition to the three teachers the school has access to a resource teacher, Mrs Masterson of Cavan, whom the school shares with three other local schools: Scoil Bhríde Killashandra (Base school), Killashandra No. 2 school and Corless National School.



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