Prior to 1782, when the penal laws existed, children were taught in gravel pits and sheltered hollows often known as hedge schools, (scoileanna scairte). These schools were illegal as it was forbidden for Catholics and other ‘non-conforming’ denominations, (such as Presbyterians) to set up schools.
A summer school, which catered for 39 boys and 21 girls, teaching reading, writing and arithmetic was run by James Webb during the mid-nineteenth century in Castlebridge. It was located along the Main Street, through Webb’s piers. Pupils paid two shillings and two pence or four shillings and four pence per quarter, depending on attendance.
Castlebridge’s first school was built in 1856 by Canon Stafford, close to where the Hall now stands. This was replaced in 1914 when Canon Quigley built a new school, where boys and girls, were separated before becoming mixed in the1950s.
The school Canon Quigley built was demolished in 1962 and the school was moved back to the original first school, which was a less than ideal location as it had no running water, proper heat or lighting and there were often swans swimming around the front door.
The new school opened in 1964 on the site of the 1914 school and is now the community centre, being replaced by today’s school in 1984.