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St. Josephs CBS Primary School, Dublin

School History

Our school has a long and distinguished history. There has been a school on this site since 1888! In the 1880’s the Fairview / Marino area was very much out in the countryside and most of the land was within what was Lord Charlemont’s 300 acre estate. The main entrance to the estate was situated between the present school and Marino Mart. The entrance was marked by pillars and gates which bore the motto of the Caulfield and Charlemont family – “Deo Duce, ferro comitante” (“God as my leader and my sword by my side”). This has been shortened and retained as the school motto – “Deo Duce”.

Fairview in the 1880’s was a quiet residential area with a number of large houses owned by well-off citizens of Dublin who preferred to live away from the busy city of Dublin. The area was called ‘Baile Bocht’ in Irish or ‘Ballybough’ in English. A chapel was built here in 1819 and a bigger church was built in 1856. This Church was dedicated to Our Lady of Fair View and the area around the Church became known as ‘Fairview’ with the name Ballybough referring to that part of the area around the River Tolka and closer to the city.

The Christian Brothers’ Education Board Report of 1929 contains the following information about the beginnings of St Joseph’s:

The first stone of a new school, now called St. Joseph’s, was laid by Fr. Scully, S.J., the Chaplain, on November 11th 1887. This school stands near the Fairview Road, now a fine thoroughfare, with the reclaimed “sloblands” forming a park between it and the Northern Railway embankment. The imposing piers and gates that stood at the entrance to the avenue leading to Charlemont’s old mansion have been removed and re-erected at the main entrance to our Training College.

In 1888 the Christian Brothers opened St. Joseph’s as a ‘Practising School’, that is a school where trainee teachers could practise their teaching before being posted to various schools in Ireland and abroad. The school was a single storey building with three rooms. From 1888 to 1928 Brothers went from St. Joseph’s to schools in Ireland, Britain, Australia, Argentina, India and South Africa.

On 10th July 1900 the pupils of St Joseph’s witnessed the laying of the foundation stone for the new novitiate and training college. This became the residence of the Community teaching in St Joseph’s from 1904 onwards.

The school was initially known as St. Joseph’s Marino until 1940 when the Brothers opened St. Joseph’s Missionary College on their lands in Marino, north of Griffith Avenue. Our school was then called St. Joseph’s, Fairview to distinguish it from the other St. Joseph’s.

“St Joseph’s”, as it affectionately became known, began life as a Primary school only but in 1890 the Brothers decided to open an Intermediate ( Secondary ) class and one of the school’s three rooms was given over to this new class. The area around the school was much different in the 1880’s. The sea came in as far as the road outside the school ( as suggested by the name Fairview Strand) and pupils ‘on the hop’ from school would gather at the railway bridge near the present D.A.R.T. station and go swimming when they should have been in school! (Legend has it that they were eventually caught when a Brother in the school spied their antics through a telescope!)

In 1901 the first extension was added to the original three rooms when a second room, a science room, was constructed for the Secondary pupils. In that year there were 43 Secondary pupils in one room and over 300 Primary pupils in the other two rooms! In 1906 /07 a second storey was constructed and the school really began to grow! The roof was built first and school continued under the roof while the rest of the building was being built!

By 1909 the school had eight teachers, six in the Secondary Department downstairs and two in the Primary Department upstairs. The school received a good report from the Board of Education inspectors who praised the school’s library of six hundred books, the good discipline and the cleanliness of the whole school! The salary of the lay teachers in the school was recorded as being £44 per annum!

As the century progressed the school continued to grow as political events in Ireland and throughout Europe led to war and rebellion. When World War One broke out many young Irishmen flocked to join the British army and fight “for the freedom of small nations” in Europe while many other chose to join the Irish Volunteers and to fight for the freedom of a small nation at home. Many past pupils of St Joseph’s including Lieutenant Thomas O’Meara from the Howth Road and Thomas Saurin from Marino fought in the ‘Great War’. When the Volunteers landed guns in Howth in 1914 a number of St Joseph’s boys helped to move the guns and many of the weapons were hidden in and around St. Joseph’s. Rumour has it that some of the guns are still buried in the grounds of the school. Twenty-four past pupils of the school, including five brothers called Ring, fought in the 1916 Rising and two St Joseph’s boys – Captain Séan Connolly of the Citizen army and Volunteer James Fox – were killed.(video)

In 1935 the Primary classrooms were divided by partitions and the two classes became four.

A new Secondary school was opened in 1958 having taken nearly three years to build. While the building work was going on the Primary school operated from the Parish Hall in Fairview where the more than two hundred pupils could not have been very comfortable! When the new building opened it was used by the Secondary school only and the original school was given to the Primary. Soon this building wasn’t big enough for the number of Primary pupils and plans were made for a new Primary school. Work began in 1962 and the building was ready in 1964.

The official opening, by the then Minister for Education, George Colley, himself a past pupil of St Joseph’s, took place on May 21st 1965. The school built in the early 1960’s was extensively refurbished and upgraded in 2001 and 2002 and extensions were added in 2004 and 2007; a garden was constructed in 2008/09 and extended in 2011. Who knows what the future will bring! Ar aghaidh linn le chéile.

Tá muid mórtasach ‘s bródiúil as ár scoil agus an stair ‘s an tradisiún a bhaineann le “St Joseph’s”. Maith thú Scoil Iosaif, go maire tú céid eile!!