School Info
Roll number 17364J
Local name of school Scoil Baile an Áird
School level Primary
Principal’s name Mrs Carmel Heelan

Education in Herbertstown

The spirit of learning was kept alive during the penal days by wandering friars. Occasionally individual landlords, the more liberal ones, built schools for the education of their tenants.  These schools were generally staffed by Protestant teachers and the attendance of Catholic children did not always meet with the approval of the priests. Since there was no formal state system of education suited to the Catholic needs, the famous hedge schools developed.

These schools were taught by dedicated lay teachers often times educated on the European continent and were to be found in every parish of the Archdiocese. In the face of hardship and danger these teachers imparted not merely religious instruction but they gave a remarkably liberal general education.

The hedge school was generally a mud walled thatched cabin. In the early 1800’s there were two schools in Ballinard with 60 boys and 30 girls attending. In Cahercorney there was also a school with 40 boys and 30 girls taking instruction. Two teachers, James Brosnan who lived in Ballinard and James Gleeson of Herbertstown, were two men of great learning. They could hold their own for poetic genius amongst the many great poets of Munster when they took part in the customary schools of poetry at the time.

Early in the nineteenth century there was a famous mathematical school in Herbertstown.  In 1849 there were eight hedge schools in Hospital and Herbertstown with an average attendance of 50 pupils. The decrease in the number in attendance may be explained by the Famine and the people were too poor to pay the teachers’ salaries.

The National schools were established in 1831 but the Catholics were suspicious of the schools and afraid to entrust the education of their children to such a system. A school was built in Herbertstown in 1853 at a cost of £200. This was a two storey building stretching from where the grotto now stands to the footpath. The ground floor was reserved for boys and the first floor for the girls. To help reduce the cost of building the school a great amount of voluntary labour was supplied by the parishioners.

In 1858 the parish priest Rev. Thomas Canon Slattery brought the school under the National Board. We find from the Postal Directory of Munster (1886) that the Principal of the Boys’ school was Mr. M. Liston and Mrs. Liston was Principal of the Girls’ school.

In 1943 the present school was built and since then the Boys’ and Girls’ schools have amalgamated. In the early years class numbers were big and this school continued as a two teacher school until 1980 when it became a three teacher school.

In 1984 there were 110 pupils attending the school. This led to the appointment of 3rd assistant in 1985 and the school continued as a four teacher school until 1988 when the department of education increased the pupil teacher ratio and many schools lost teachers.

This period also saw the appointment of resource teachers, learning support teachers and special needs assistants. Grants were provided to employ caretakers and secretaries. All of this development was a big support to the school and staff and helped in the delivery of a high standard of education and support to all students.

A school cannot function without the support of the school community. The formation of the parents association in Herbertstown was a vital part in the ongoing development of the school. Early fundraisers and weekly contributions helped to finance the upgrade of the old building, including the heating system, new windows etc.

Likewise the establishment of Boards of Management  was instrumental in the effective running of the school. In all of these endeavours the people of Herbertstown were never found wanting.

Education is about the development of the whole person, not just delivery on the academic areas. In Herbertstown N.S. there was a wide variety of activities catered for. Speech and Drama classes were very popular and many students’ parents will remember the wonderful concerts and performances put on by the children. Parents will particularly remember all the good times in the H.D.A centre making costumes for the children.

Sport has always played a huge part in the history of the school. Since the formation of the South Limerick Primary Schools the school has participated with much success in Hurling, Gaelic Football and Ladies Football.

In the early years, late 70’s, we combined with Lough Gur to make up a team. From the 1980s up to recent times, Herbertstown NS have had many successes in Cumann na mBunscol competitions. Many pupils, boys and girls, were selected to play on the South Divisional teams. School teams had great success in Soccer competitions, Rounders. This tradition of participation in sport for boys and girls continues to the present day.

Pupils, parents and staff will remember travelling on school tours, various nature outings, participating in school quizzes etc.

2008 saw Herbertstown Community Childcare open its doors. This facility is built on the grounds of Herbertstown National School and provides a pre-school for the area as well as after school services.

By 2010 the number of pupils attending the school was 71.  In April of 2010, funding was obtained to build two new classrooms. These would replace prefabs which were in use at the time. Work began on the extension in October 2010 and was finished in May 2011. As well as the two new classrooms, the school also saw the addition of a principal’s office, a staffroom and a new entrance corridor/reception area.

Improvements were also made to the school’s bathrooms (winter 2010) and roof. The original classrooms were refurbished through the summer works programme in 2011. During the winter of 2011, the sceptic tank was upgraded and a rainwater harvesting system was partially installed.

A large fund raising effort was made to offset the cost of all the works which had taken place over the previous couple of years. Through the work of the B.O.M., the parents association and the general school community the school cleared all debts and placed the school on a healthy financial footing in difficult economic times. One of the main sources of funds was a well attended ‘Dog Night’ in Limerick greyhound stadium.

An ‘Opening Night’ took place in October 2011 to mark the completion of works on the school. Following a blessing by Canon Conor Ryan and speeches by Rev. Father Danny, the principal Betty Carmody and the Chairperson of the Parents Association Mary Daly, the official opening took place. Keelin McCarthy, who was the youngest pupil in the school, was joined by Mary Bresnan, who had been the youngest pupil in the school when it amalgamated in 1943, to cut the tape on the school’s extension. Eileen Baggott, the longest serving member of staff and Martin Franklin, the youngest, cut a cake as part of the celebrations. A large crowd of invited guests and past pupils enjoyed a celebration of the school’s past and present through performances of singing, dancing and poetry.  A slideshow was on display throughout the evening which displayed photographs of school life in Herbertstown.

We, the partners in education in Herbertstown N.S., envisage that each child who leaves our school, will be a well adjusted, confident and self-motivated young adult, with a sense of Christian ethos and civic spirit, and will have achieved an academic standard that enables them to engage in lifelong learning.

Staff List 2022/2023
Ms Jennifer Barry Junior Infants & Senior Infants
Mr Martin Franklin 1st & 2nd Class
Mrs Claire Murphy 3rd
Mr Tomás English 4th & 5th Class
Mr Mike Fitzgerald 6th Class
Ms Annabel Thomson SET
Ms Eimear Laffan SET
Mrs Breda Kennedy SNA
Mrs Louise Morris SNA
Mrs Anne-Marie Barry Secretary
The Board of Management members are as follows:
Board of Management
Mrs Mary Jones
Canon Conor Ryan
Mrs Caroline Keane
Mr Michael Gleeson
Mr Mike Leahy
Mrs Nora Wallace
Mr Mike Fitzgerald
Mrs Carmel Heelan

Parents Association

Tina Wright – Chairperson
Deirdre O’Donoghue – Secretary
Claire Keogh – Treasurer