St. Edwards National School: A Brief History.
As far as can be ascertained from the earliest School Records, the first National School to be built in Forthill was a two-roomed building constructed in 1875 and catered for boys and girls separately. The school was situated on North Gallow’s Hill on a plot of land described as “Hankerchief Field”. In essence, the building contained two one-teacher schools. The Principal of the Forthill Girls School was Mary Kielty and on June 30th 1876, there were 28 pupils enrolled. It appears a further two classrooms were added to the building in 1887 (one for boys and one for girls) with the consequent employement of two assistant teachers. By 1891, the Girls School had 130 pupils.
In 1940 a new school building was erected beside the site of the first, and earlier, four teacher school. This new school building consisted of six classrooms and incorporated a Boys School and a Girls Schools, with three classrooms in each. While it was being built, the pupils had to move to the Gillooly Hall. The tender for building this school was £6,659. The local contribution was £700. The stone from the old school was used to build the wall of the school site.
The general contractors were Langan and Golden Building and General Contractors fromBallycastle, Co. Mayo and the contract was placed on March 19th 1940. As the school was being built during the Second World War, a “War Clause” was included in the contract to cover any extra cost of materials which may have arisen. It appears it was nnot possible to obtain a licence to import wrought iron from England and also the cost of cast iron products was substantially increased. Consequently, the cost of heating amounted to £118-2-5. The school was heated by a hot-water solid-fuel system.
It was solemnly blessed and opened by Most Reverend Edward Doorly, Bishop of Elphin, on May 16th 1942. The school was dedicated in honour of St. Edward as an expression of appreciation of the educational work of Bishop Doorly, the founder and first patron of the school.
By 1946 the number of pupils had increased necessitating the accomodating of the third and fourth classes in the former Monastery National School, Quat St. while two more classrooms were built onto the building in 1960. Also, the heating system was cahnged to an oil-fired system. Interestingly, the cost of the improvement was £6,800.
Further changes to the accomodation have taken place in recent times. In 1975, the Boys’ and Girls’ schools amalgamated. Four years later, in 1979, because of a decrease in the schools enrolement, it was possible to demolish the dividing wall between the two classrooms on the western wing of the school, therby providing a much needed Assembly Hall. This facility was preserved by successive Boards of Management despite increasing enrolement in recent times. A pre-fabricated building was erected onsite in November 1984 and in 1990-91, the cloakroom on the west wing was converted to a classroom.
It is ironic that in the school year in which the pupils transferred to the nes St. Edwards N.S. in Ballytivnan, the school authorities had finally to succumb to the pressure of increased enrolement by accomodating a class in the Assembly Hall.
The old shchool in Forthill served the community’s educational needs with distinction and pride for the last half century. However, the rigors of time, new building requirements and specifications contributed to its closure as a primary school.
Understandably, there was a sense of loss among the residents of Forthill whose vibrant community spirit and generosity helped sustain the schools existence down through the years. Thankfully, this building continues to exist as a focal point for the area and serves as an excellent community resource. It is home to the Sligo Northside Community Partnership project whose endeavours to date auger well for the future developement of the locality.