A History of Rathgar National School
The Foundation and Opening of Rathgar National School
Brighton Road Methodist Church was opened in 1874. Building was completed in 1879 and this included the church, a manse and a school house. The latter was placed to the rear of the church and access was available from both Brighton Road and Garville Avenue.
The school consisted of a main lecture/concert room with a capacity of 200 people. Joined to this room were two classrooms and a sexton's house, with separate entries, pantries and stores. Heating for the school was to be by the circulation of hot water through small pipes.
It was in 1896 that the Rathgar National Schools were built on Rathgar Avenue, designed as two separate schools; a Boys' School and Girls' School. In the lease, the plot of ground is described as;
"being part of the lands of Rathgar, situate on the south side of Winton Avenue and the East side of Rathgar and continuing for a breadth in front to Winton Avenue one hundred and fourteen feet four inches in the rere one hundred and four feet eight inches and in depth from front to rere on the east side one hundred and thirtyfive feet and on the west side one hundred and seven feet. Bounded on the North by Winton Avenue on the West by Rathgar Avenue on the East by ground the property of Dr. Edward Hamilton and on the South by the adjoining lands in Rathgar situate lying and being in the Parish of Rathfarnham Barony of Rathdown and County of Dublin".
The lease was for 999 years from 25 March 1896 subject to the yearly rent of £15. Why the schools were moved to the Rathgar Avenue is unclear, but it may have been influenced by the requirements for joining the National School system. It may have been felt that the school would have benefitted more from state funding if seen having a more physically removed from the church.
The school came into being on 4th August 1896, designed to accommodate, as reported by the Assistant Surveyor, one hundred and sixty pupils. It was inspected by the District Inspector, Mr.Browne, during the week of operation on the first of 10 August 1896 - the school's first week in operation. At this time, the school was open from 10a.m. to 3p.m. and on the day of its inspection; there was a total of 65 boys registered as present.
Mr. Francis O'Kane was the boys' teacher, twenty-three years old at the time; having qualified from Marlborough St. Miss Elizabeth Johnson was the girls' teacher, again, qualifying from Marlborough Street.
The Amalgamation of the Boys' and Girls' Schools
In 1971, the numbers of the girls' school had dropped from a healthy 105 in 1964 to 51 in 1971. Falling numbers with staff retirements looming meant the school risked having its teaching staff numbers drop also. With teacher and pupil numbers as they were, it was proposed that the two schools amalgamate.
With numbers in the nearby Mt. Jerome School, a two-teacher Church of Ireland in Harold's Cross, dropping drastically also, it was proposed that the three schools (Mt. Jerome and the two Rathgar National schools) be amalgamated into one. This came into effect in June 1971.
Rathgar National School was now a five teacher primary school, with Miss Ina Rogers (formally of Mt. Jerome) the new principal. This period of change coincided with the changes in Irish education, through the implementation of the 1970 Curriculum.
The School's Centenary and Present Day Status
To celebrate the 100th year of Rathgar National School's existence, a special commemorative book was compiled and published detailing the school's history. A special weekend of celebration took place in May 1996 which included a visit to the school by Her Excellency Mrs. Mary Robinson, an open day and an Anniversary of Thanksgiving, open to members of all denominations of the local community.
In the present day of June 2011, some forty years on after the amalgamation of the three schools, Rathgar National School has 94 children on roll, with five full-time teaching staff members (four mainstream and one learning-support), and many other full-time and part-time staff members working here.
The school is an active one, which sees every effort made a very dedicated staff to ensure the current Irish Primary School Curriculum (1999) is covered, while meeting the individual abilities of every child here. The school also offers a wide range of extra-curricular activities to further develop the holistic school experience for the children.