Congratulations and best wishes to all our pupils, past pupils, parents and teachers of St. Patrick’s National School, Cornanool, in this, our centenary year. One hundred years in any way of life is a long time, but when one hundred years in education is being celebrated, it has to be somespecial. The lives of so many people, in fact so many generations, have been touched.

This year we are privileged to celebrate the centenary of St. Patrick’s N.S., Cornanool (1896-1996). If the four walls of the school could only talk, what stories we would now listen to. Children barefoot, noisy but happy. In winter, huddled around the turf fire for warmth—fire from the sods of turf they carried daily to the school. In difficult and trying times, children received an education from teachers who were committed to their task.

Years always bring change, even to our own lives, and one hundred years have brought many changes to Cornanool N.S.

From rather austere beginnings, progress has all been welcomed—the introduction of electricity, running water and other amenities. From the old manager system to the introduction of the new Boards of Management who, under difficult financial conditions did their best to maintain the school. From the introduction of the new curriculum, the abolition of corporal punishment and the setting up of Parents’ Associations. For any area to thrive, a willingness to change is essential and the people of Cornanool will not be found wanting in this respect.

As the old saying goes, “there is nothing permanent except change,” and the changes in the last one hundred years will pale into insignificance to what the next one hundred years will bring. The mind boggles in thinking what education will be like in the year 2096. With the sharp decline in the birthrate, it seems inevitable that in the futhere will be far fewer national schools in the country. Will there be a dozen or so ultra-large primary schools, with fifty or more teachers, dotted around the county serving a multitude of parishes. Gone will be the day of the school bus (Eugene take note!). Will pupils instead be ferried to their central school by helicopter “busses”?

Will these huge schools have every educational and sporting amenity, from high tech computer rooms, state of the art gymnasiums, Michelle ‘^Smith’s 50 metres pools (!) and fully-equipped medical rooms? School lunches will be a thing of the past as each school will have its own self-servcanteen.

Schoolbags and books will be obsolete; instead each pupil will probably have a lap-top computer into which the year’s course will be entered. Homewill be handed out on a disc to be inserted in your home computer.

School tours—like visits to Galway, Dublin and other places—will seem very tame affairs to future generations. Pupils in the year 2096 may go on day tours to far-off exotic places like Hawaii, Thailand, the Amazon and the Moon—all thanks to high tech travel

Yes, you might well say to yourself, this is all “pie in the sky,” but it would be well to remember what times were like in 1896. We had no central heated houses, no phones, televisions, compact discs, radios or video recorders. Travel was by means of foot or horse and cart. The car was just being invented. Buses, underground trains, jet travel, the Concorde and space exploration were just a fantasy.

I have no doubt that times will be very different in a hundred years from now. Let’s hope the small two-teacher school, as we know it today, will not be just a fading memory. As a precaution it is very important for us now to record faithfully for the future what an important part the small school has in the fabric of our society.

Finally, I would like to thank all who helped in any way with the production of this book. I would especially like to thank the organising commitwho gave so freely of their time, the people who sent in articles or photographs, the staff of the Connaught Telegraph for their advice and help, and last, but by no means least, our advertisers and sponsors, without whom this production would not be possible.

I hope that this centenary booklet will have its own special meaning for each family, and on behalf of the organising committee may I extend a very special invitation to all the people of the parish, the young and old, to our cententary celebrations on the weekend of 23rd – 25th August.

Is mise, Ie mor mheas,
MARTIN LOFTUS (Priomh Oide).


Cornanool N.S. was built in 1896 on a site of one acre and sixteen perch. It was officially opened in 1898. The reason for this delay was the The Board of Works refused to pay the balance op the grant to the school manager, Fr. William Coen, as they were unhappy with the contractors work. It cost £386/19. This was covered by a grant of £257/19/8 from the Board of Works and the rest was fundraised locally. Enrolment at that time was 121 children but the average daily attendence was 72.
The school consisted of two rooms, one large and one small, a hallway, a cloak porch and a turf box. It was a mixed school but the playground was divided into girls and boys by a five-foot wall. Heating was by open turf fires and children were expected to bring a few sods of turf to school each day.
There was a wonderful celebration in 1996 for our centenary year with past pupils travelling from all over the world to reminisce about their days in Cornanool N.S. We produced a Centenary Book which is a great resource for local history. You can view different articles and images from this book by clicking here. However, it was in 2005 that the biggest improvements were made with the purchase of the field to the front of the school and the addition of two new classrooms to replace the smaller rooms in the older part of the school. This has given the school a wonderful modern feel and provided additional playing areas for the pupils.
Thanks to the dedication, hard work and commitment of many generations of parents, staff and Board of Managements, we have a school in the heart of the community, in which we are rightly proud. An Taoiseach Enda Kenny was a past pupil in Cornanool N.S.

In it’s 115 year history the school has had just six principals:

Bernard Egan Snr. 1896-1933
Bernard Egan Jnr. 1933-1937
John Egan 1937-1975
Martin Loftus 1975-2009
Ann O’Hara 2009-2018
Dermot Walsh 2018 – present

About us

Welcome to St Patricks N.S. Cornanool, Islandeady, Castlebar. Our school is a small Catholic co educational school, with two mainstream classes and one learning support teacher. We are situated in the outskirts of Castlebar, approximately a five minute drive from the town. We provide our pupils with a caring, safe and happy place in which they can reach their full potential.


There are many facilities available in the school. The original school building now hosts the learning support room, store room and staff room/office. The staff room/office was re-vamped recently and is looking very well with a new kitchen added.


At the front of the school there is a fully enclosed pitch. The pitch is in great condition. The children really enjoy playing on the pitch and love to practise their football skills. There is also a basketball area to the left of the building, fitted with basketball hoops on either end.