Access Keys:

St. George's National School, Balbriggan Co. Dublin

History of St.George's


Pre World War I St. George’s School in the early years of the 20th century was in a much smaller Balbriggan where almost everyone walked to school, to work, to church, or to the shop.

Nearby Houses: Pupils generally lived close by and walked to school. The houses in Hampton Place beside the school were known as ‘Quality Row’ as they housed skilled workers in the mills who were brought over from England to train local people and therefore were paid more. Children living in ‘Quality Row’ also attended the school while their families had work in Balbriggan.

The Era of Mr. & Mrs. Douglas: The school in the early decades of the 20th century had two teachers. Mr. J. Douglas taught the senior classes and Mrs. Edith Douglas taught the juniors. The junior classroom was in the present Parochial Hall behind the main building and the seniors were in the classroom beside the garden. The other front classroom, which is today used by junior classes, was in bygone days the dining room of the Douglas family. In the residential part of the building lived Mr. & Mrs. Douglas, their two sons and three daughters, and a housekeeper who also cleaned the classrooms.

Background of Other Pupils: Apart from other children whose families worked in the factories of the town, a number of pupils lived on Hampton Estate and on other nearby estates where their parents had occupations such as gardener, steward, caretaker, herdsman, etc. The school hours were similar to today, 9.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. However, the half hour lunch break, 12.30-1.00 p.m., allowed pupils who lived nearby to go home for lunch.

Scripture: A half hour, 2.30-3.00 p.m., was given over each day to the teaching of scripture and this was keenly encouraged by the clergy who urged pupils to enter scripture exams and prizes of books were given to successful candidates.

Visiting Clergy: Every Friday, it was customary for the rector or his curate to visit the school to question the pupils about scripture. The most fondly remembered visitor was Rev. Dr. Charles William Benson, who was rector from 1903 until his death in 1919. Other visiting clergy such as Rev. Newman Lombard, Rev. Scriven and Rev. Hunter were less popular and felt more at home with the gentry that chatting with children. Later on however in the 1950′s, Canon Frank Blennerhasset who was a great storyteller and a teacher of English, Irish and Latin himself, was very popular with pupils. Since then clergy have continued to be much more child-centred than in Victorian and Edwardian times.

Sunday School: Mr. Douglas also taught Sunday School which took place at 10.15 a.m. every Sunday in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Hall beside the church in advance of the 11.00 a.m. Morning Service when the pupils would rejoin their parents in church.

Music Classes: Mrs. Douglas was a renowned music teacher. So much so that a concert was a regular feature once or twice a year for many pupils.. The best remembered feature was whenever Harry Reynolds sang from Italian Operas.

Nature Walks & Art: A vivid memory of the school at that time was Primrose Day. This entailed the pupils being walked through Hampton Estate to gather bunches of flowers which were then sold for charity in Dublin.

Languages: Mrs. Douglas had a good knowledge of French which she taught as well as the usual English poetry, grammar and composition. Like many other national school teachers at that time, ‘an Ghaeilge’ was an unfamiliar language. Mrs. Douglas, along with many teachers, availed of the three-month courses in the Gaeltacht to gain proficiency in the native language so she could teach it the following September. However, Mr. Douglas was too near retirement at that point and never became a teacher of Irish.

Arithmetic: Pounds, shillings, pennies, halfpennies and farthings, as well as all the various units of distance, area, volume and weights presented a huge challenge for pupils. With blackboard and easel and mental arithmetic games, a number of past pupils from the school went on to have very successful careers in banking and accountancy.

Retirement of Mr. Douglas: The retirement of Mr. Douglas coincided with a fall in the number of pupils in the school as state independence brought a reduction in the number of Church of Ireland families in the area. St. George’s School from then until 1985 became a one-teacher school.

19th Century Schoolhouse Becomes Modern School: 1985 saw increasing enrolment which included two traveller families with Church of Ireland backgrounds. As a result the Department of Education made Scoil Sheoirse a two teacher school once again. In 1987, the teacher’s residence and garden was transferred to the school which allowed the construction of indoor modern toilets, a meeting room and a computer/music room.


1990’s and 21st century: With the passing of time and Balbriggan growing as it is, the need for new schools in the area grew. There was a need for a new ‘Christian’ school and so the Department of Education offered this to St. George’s. Our new school was opened in September 2008 with an initial enrolment of 208. It grew from a 3 teacher to a 15 teacher school over that summer. This also was the year of its 150th anniversary, so there was a double celebration – in essence one of the oldest schools in Balbriggan also became one of the newest. In November 2009, the school celebrated the anniversary in St. George’s church with the Archbishop and other dignitaries. It is growing by the year.

(Extracts from -A history of St George’s Church & School by Trevor Sargent TD on

Saint George (c. 275/280 – April 23, 303)

As well of being the patron saint of our school, Saint George is the patron saint of England. According to a legend, Saint George of Lydda killed a dragon and saved the lives of many people. It is sometimes called ‘The Golden Legend’. Saint George’s Day (also England’s National Day) is on April 23rd, although this is not a holiday in the UK or Ireland. He is the patron saint of many other countries, too – including Greece, Palestine, Georgia, Portugal and Russia.  Saint George is the patron saint of the Boy Scouts of America.