St. Francis Xavier’s Senior School… A History
Coolmine Primary School, which later developed into St. Francis Xavier’s Schools began on Monday, July 2nd 1973 in Prefabs where Scoil Oilbhéir now stands.
On that first day there was a total of 62 pupils – 35 boys and 27 girls. Of those 48 were in Junior Infants. The others had started in other local schools during the previous few years, and moved to the new school for convenience. There were 4 teachers in the school at the beginning – Mr. Michael Bowler (Principal), Mrs. Hanna Reidy, Mrs. Phyllis Finnan and Miss Mary Hogan (later Mrs. Nolan). Rev. Canon Crowe was Manager – these were days before Boards of Management came into being.
The school grew rapidly and meanwhile work was in progress on the new buildings in Roselawn. Though the grounds were far from complete, the buildings were ready for use by the middle of 1976. In the first week of July that year, all the pupils and their teachers took their belongings and walked from the Prefabs in Coolmine down Clonsilla Road and took up residence in what was later named St. Francis Xavier’s Schools. The name was chosen by the late Canon Morgan Crowe.
The school continued to grow and it was decided to divide it into Senior and Junior schools for the new school year.
On July 1st 1977 the Senior School began with 170 pupils – 88 boys and 82 girls – in Classes 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th. Five teachers moved from the original school to the Senior School – Mr. John Fleming, Mr. Peter Gallagher, Mrs. Phyllis Finnan, Mr. Sean Hogan and Mrs. Ruth Gunning. During September Mrs Gunning resigned and was replaced by Miss Geraldine McAleenan (now Mrs. Guiney). Later that year, Mr. Paddy Boyle was appointed to the staff.
The school population continued to grow rapidly and reached a peak in 1989 when 680 pupils were on rolls and 21 teachers on the staff. In those years, there were five or six classes in each age group – average class size 36. From then on, a gradual reduction took place in the number of school-going children in the school catchment area and the school population decreased accordingly. Despite this there are still 350 pupils on roll in 2010.
Boards of Management came into being during the early years of the school. St. Francis Xavier’s Senior School has always been very lucky with the calibre of people on the Board – their sincerity, their thoughtfulness, their eagerness to help, and their generosity with their time. There has always been great co-operation between the Board of Management and the Teaching Staff – all to the benefit of the pupils.
The school has always had a very active Parents’ Association. In the early years, they ran very successful sports days and laid the foundation for a very important aspect of school life – sport in general.
A Christmas Fair has always been and still is a huge day in school life – the Parents’ Association puts huge effort into this. Apart from being a very enjoyable day, with many stalls and the presence of Santa, it is also a very big fundraiser. Another big fundraiser organised by the Committee is the Annual Sponsored Walk.
Two huge events in the history of the school were the two Trade Fairs organised by the Parents’ Association.
They really put the school on the map, attracting huge crowds on both occasions, and raising very much needed funds. Obviously a very large number of people were involved in these events but special mention must be made of Mr. Sean Fagan and Mrs. Valerie Mahon, who were the driving forces behind our trade fairs. Long may the Parents’ Association prosper.
In the early years of the school, the grounds were in very poor state. Obviously the builders did not believe leaving the grounds in an acceptable condition was part of their brief. A couple of years into the life of the school, a group, consisting of a large number of parents and teachers, decided to tackle the grounds’ problem. Plans were drawn up, shrubs and trees were planted. The areas that were intended as greens were rotavated and grass planted. On many Saturdays and spring and summer evenings, groups were to be seen giving of their time to make the grounds what they are today – something of which we are very proud.
Sport has always played a big part in the life of St. Francis Xavier’s school. The school has taken part, very successfully, in Cumann na mBunscol competitions, in Football, Hurling, Ladies Football, Camogie and Athletics.
Teams for these competitions were trained and managed over the years by a number of the teaching staff. Our pupils will never forget the great days when our teams took part in Cumann na mBunscol finals in Croke Park. Six or seven double decker buses carried hundreds of supporters to the matches – flags, hats, jerseys, painted faces and even dyed hair, were everywhere to be seen – great memories.
Our athletics teams always returned from Santry with a hatful of medals – more days never to be forgotten.
Other high points in the history of the school was our participation in ‘Slógadh’ competitions. On four occasions we reached the All Ireland Finals and put on excellent performances.
Long may all these activities play an integral role in the life of St. Francis Xavier’s Senior School.
Remembered and written by Mr. John Fleming, our first Senior School Principal.