The first reference to a school in the Skerries area is at Baldongan in 1630:
'There is one Mr. Clarke, as they call him, a mass priest that keepeth school.'
The Royal Commission of 1825 records four one teacher schools, based in two cabins and two rooms in cabins. The teachers combined annual earnings were £85, a sizeable sum provided by the children's fees of a few pence each week.
When the new National School system commenced the Parish Priest, Fr. John Molloy, applied for and received two-thirds of the cost of the new schools in Church Street in 1834. The Commissioners for Education also agreed to pay the salaries of the master and mistress.
Holmpatrick National School was founded in 1892 and transferred to the premises vacated by the Vocational School in Convent Lane in the early 1980s, while the National School in Milverton was opened in 1902.
As the years passed the schools in Church Street were unable to cope with the increase in pupils and in 1913 they were replaced by the new St. Patrick's Boys' and St. Patrick's Girls' schools in the Dublin road. In turn this boys' school was replaced in 1973 by the present modern building and the girls' school followed suit in 1978. Both of these schools went co-educational in 1984.
As the population of Skerries steadily increased during the 1970s another primary school was needed. Réalt na Mara National School began in 1979 in the old premises on the Dublin Road vacated by St. Patrick's Girls' School in 1979. It moved to a new premises at Mourne View in 1983.
St. Michael's Special National School in Hacketstown was founded in 1981.
Father John Gowan, a native of Skerries, assisted Margaret Aylward to establish the Holy Faith Order in Dublin. At that time girls from Skerries had to travel to Balbriggan for secondary education. Fr. Gowan's sister offered a house in Gowan's Lane, now Convent Lane, to the Holy Faith nuns to establish a girls' school in the town and the nuns came to Skerries in 1875.
The convent offered adult education for the people who never had the opportunity of attending school, as well as educating the children.
By 1883 the school had grown too large for the house in Convent Lane. A cousin of Fr. Gowan, Mr. Anthony Ellis who lived in New York, donated £1,000 to buy a site and build a new convent in Holmpatrick. Here they had a junior boys' school, a boarding school for girls and a preparatory and secondary school for girls.
In 1948 the De La Salle Order bought the Grand Hotel, near the Monument and after alterations were completed commenced a secondary school for 60 boys. They came to Skerries at the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. John Charles McQuaide. As the number of pupils grew in the school a new extension was built in 1955.
In the 1970s the Holy Faith Sisters, the De La Salle brothers and the Vocational school, which had been in Convent Lane for many years, decided to amalgamate. The new school which replaced all three opened off the Balbriggan Road in 1982.
Published here: November 2002
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