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Castletown GNS, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Castletown Girls' School - History

On September 14th, 1896, Castletown National School opened its doors to the many boys and girls of the Northern Side of Dundalk. The Opening and Blessing Ceremonies were carried out by the then Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. M. McSharry. The School in the early years was designed to accommodate both boys and girls with the boys’ classes upstairs and girls’ downstairs. Many children walked, even in the severst of weather conditions, long distances to attend the classes run by the Sisters of Mercy, De La Salle Brothers and lay teachers.

In 1915, a new school was built and became the De La Salle Boys’ Primary School, with the Sisters of Mercy and the girls remaining in the original building, which was now known as Castletown Girls’ School.

Since 1896, the school building has undergone a number of extensive renovations, both interior and exterior, including the following:

  • In 1936, the front area from building to railing was covered in grass with two concrete footpaths, which in earlier years was used for gardening purposes. However, this grassy area was cemented under the instruction of the late Fr. John F. Stokes, Administrator.
  • Between 1942 and 1943, further renovations were made with the building being extended to its present size. An interesting point to note is that all 25,000 bricks used in this extensions were made from clay found in Lisdoo.
  • Other improvements made over the years included the installation of electric heating which was used until 1982 when an oil heating system was installed.
  • In 1980, all the school's ceilings were lowered, thus making the rooms warmer.
  • Also in the 1980’s, came the resurfacing of the school yard with tarmac.

Not only did the pupils of Castletown Girls’ School study the academic subjects, the Sisters of Mercy also instructed the girls in the more practical aspects of life, perhaps the most notable of these being cookery. There was always a Cookery Room in the school and various techniques of cooking have stood well to all Castletown’s pupils throughout their lives. In the school’s early years, cookery lessons were held in the forenoon enabling the girls to bring home their cooked savouries for family dinners - a welcoming supplement during hard times. At that time, laundry lessons were also given to the older girls.

Another great asset to the Castletown’s pupils, both past and present, is the love for music and ability to play at least one musical instrument before leaving the school. Indeed, Castletown Girls’ School Band has been very successful over the years. They took part in Slogadh Competitions nationwide and placed 2nd and 3rd in 1996, under the superb direction of the then Principal, Sr. Maol Mhuire.

Many changes have taken place over the years with numerous additions to the school, including a provision for a Preschool which is currently run by Ms. Donna Kirk. The school continues to flourish with the awarding of Active Flags and Greenschool Flags over the years and its welcoming atmosphere has never changed. 

(Excerpts taken from Dundalk Democrat, 1996)