Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's North Monastery Secondary School as it marks 210 years

There have been 15 former Lord Mayors of Cork - including Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney - and three past presidents of UCC attend the school.
Nostalgia: A look back at Cork's North Monastery Secondary School as it marks 210 years

Heading for the tuck shop at the North Monastery, 1958.

NORTH Monastery Secondary School celebrated a significant milestone this week marking 210 years promoting education in Cork.

Over the years many different individuals have passed through the school's doors who later went on to become leaders and major contributors to the world of politics, education, media, religion, arts, sport and culture, science, geography and the wider community.

There have been 15 former Lord Mayors of Cork - including Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney - and three past presidents of UCC attend the school.

North Monastery, 1958.
North Monastery, 1958.

Other notable alumni include famous actors such as Joe Lynch, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Edward Mulhare.

Speaking to The Echo, Shane Ryan, a teacher in the school, said the North Mon has become a "pillar" of the northside. 

"210 glorious years were celebrated on November 9. 

"We will be here for another 210 years if we can help it. North Mon means so much to generations of students. 

"It is a pillar of the northside. It is a great institution. Our students always say there is no school like our school," he said.

The all-boys secondary school was founded in 1811 when Brother Jerome O’Connor and Brother John Baptist Leonard were given charge of a school in Chapel Lane by the then Bishop of Cork, Rev Dr Moylan.

North Monastery rowing team in training at the Marina, 1951.
North Monastery rowing team in training at the Marina, 1951.

Some 17 students attended on the first day. 

Three years later the North Monastery found its permanent home when a 14-acre sloping site was acquired from a wealthy Catholic businessman, Sir George Gould Bart, and a new school was built. 

In 1816, an outbreak of typhus fever in the city saw the school being used as a temporary hospital.

One great educator associated with the school is Br James Dominic Burke, considered to be one of the greatest technical geniuses of his time who was the first man to show that you could use electricity for lighting purposes. 

He was a pioneer in vocational education and established a school museum and one of the first technical schools in the country.

A momentous year for the school occurred in 1911 as it marked the centenary of its inception.

North Monastery, 1958.
North Monastery, 1958.

The school put on a full week of outdoor theatre, in which all the performances were reenactments of tails from Ireland's ancient past.

According to the school's website, these productions were devised and directed by Br J Walker and among others whom he sought advice from was the noted republican, poet and educator, Pádraig Pearse who would be executed after the Easter Rising five years later. 

The pageants were so successful a special tram was run up to the school from the city centre to bring people up to watch them. 

Over the decades the school began to demonstrate its prowess in hurling with the Mon becoming a dominant force in the Harty Cup competition. To this day the North Monastery has the second-highest tally of cup wins in this competition. 

Jack Lynch at the opening of the new secondary school.
Jack Lynch at the opening of the new secondary school.

When the school celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1961 it was granted its own Coat of Arms from Dublin Council, by the Office of the Chief Herald.

The Chief Herald at the time was Gerard Slevin, a past pupil of the school.

In 1969 the new secondary school was officially opened by then Taoiseach and past pupil, Jack Lynch. 

This building is the one that the secondary school, Scoil Mháthair na Síorchabhrach, still resides in today.

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