An application for a primary school in Shantalla was lodged in Galway Corporation in January 1946 and permission was granted to build the school on 13th of October 1951. The building of the school commenced in 1953, at a cost of £21,000. Sanction was granted for six classrooms catering for 300 children. The school was officially blessed by Bishop Michael Browne on Monday the 27th of June and classes commenced on Monday the 1st of July.
Since that time the Presentation Order and the Presentation Sisters from the Convent have made an indelible mark in this community. Their vision and forward thinking has seen the school grow from a four teacher school, catering for Infants to 4th class, to a fully coeducational school from Pre-school to 6thclasses with 36 teachers, 10 Special Needs Assistants and 10 ancillary staff at its peak.
The school is embedded in the community and has developed hugely over the years.
The school was extended in 1975 and further development works saw the development of a sports pitch in 1987.
At the beginning of the new Millennium the car park was extended and temporary accommodation added to the rear of the school to cater for the increased numbers enrolling in the school.
Our school has a long and proud history for the pivotal role it has played in the education of children from the local community and indeed far beyond. It still remains the only Irish school to win the prestigious European Alcuin Award (The Alcuin award was launched in 1991 by EPA to highlight the role of parents in the education of their children and to honour the best educational innovations in Europe.)
Our school is also a model school for the Reading Recovery Programme and teachers from our school provide In-Service for other schools throughout the region. The school has developed a unique and specialised literacy programme that is proving invaluable in addressing the needs of our pupils. The DEIS evaluation highlighted its effectiveness and has recommended it to many schools as a model of best practice.
Also hugely successful Literacy Summer Camps have taken place in the school since 2000 and The Literacy Through Arts summer camps run in conjunction with the Department of Education provided intensive literacy support for children in a fun filled setting during the summer months. ‘The Show and Tell’ element of the camps became high profile events with Governmental Ministerial visits on a number of occasions and a feature length session broadcast on RTE Radio 1’s “Morning Ireland” programme in July 2002.
The seamless introduction of the many different ethnic and international children enrolled in Scoil Bhríde throughout the years, is a tribute to the inclusive nature of our school. The school caters for our own Irish children including children from the travelling community and children from many international families. Currently, there are children of nineteen different nationalities enrolled in Scoil Bhride.
This spirit of inclusiveness also extends to children with a variety of Special Needs and over the years the school has had a number of special classes to cater for the wide variety of needs of our pupils. The Board of Management in conjunction with the Department of Education offered specialist and integrated educational facilities for a number of Deaf/Hard of hearing children in March 1982. The class operated until 1996 when there were no further enrolments for the unit. A class for children with MLGD was established in 1986 and has provided specialist education for assessed children to the present day.
The school also offers Art Therapy to support a number of selected children as an intervention strategy.
Woodwork was introduced in the late 1980’s with the assistance of Galway VEC, in an attempt to combat early school leaving. This programme has helped develop a life -long skill for children and was instrumental in guiding a number of children towards further education. Another lifelong skill, cookery was introduced in the 90’s and has developed rapidly since.
In more recent times the school has been included as part of the National School Completion Programme (SCP) and this has seen the development of dedicated homework clubs, and also literacy summer camps for infants. With the aid of the SVP Maureen O’ Connell fund, these clubs assist over 60 children three days a week. The model of support has led to a partnership with the Service Learning Centre in NUI Galway and these students have committed to supporting these clubs on a long term basis. This partnership, though in its infancy, is proving hugely beneficial in providing individual support in Literacy for those who attend. The support of the Active Retired personnel has given an inter-generational aspect to these clubs.
We also provide extra support for high achieving children in both Literacy and Maths.
An outstanding example of the foresight and vision of the Presentation sisters was clearly in evidence with the introduction of the first pre -school in Scoil Bhríde, in April 1989.
From their work in the community the sisters recognised the need for some form of educational programme for 3 year olds and from there, Sr. Helen Hyland began the preschool. The model that was set up was the pre-cursor to the Early Start programme which was established by the Department of Education in 1995. Scoil Bhríde became to only school in the west of Ireland to be granted an Early Start Unit, run by a fully qualified primary school teacher with a dedicated care worker assistant. The school was then able to give thirty children the opportunity for free pre-school education on an annual basis.
As well as our commitment to education, Scoil Bhríde has developed a huge tradition in the provision of extra curricular and after school activities. We have a proud musical heritage and the school was widely known throughout the city for its school band. However, it was the school choir that was formed first and its initial performance at the Liturgical Festival in 1959 was highly commended. The choir went from strength to strength and won the Irish Press Cup at Féile an Iarthair in 1961. In 1967 the choir performed on Radio Éireann during a children’s programme. During the 1980’s Sr. Louise Eustace revived the tradition and the school choir performed nationally as part of the National Children’s Choir in Leisureland and some pupils from our choir performed nationally in Dublin. Currently the school has two choirs, a sacramental choir that performs at Church ceremonies and a Glee style choir that perform at various functions throughout the city including a major production in 2012 at The Town Hall Theatre. They also perform with the Cross Border Orchestra as part of The Peace Proms series.
The tradition of performing as part of the National Children’s Choir has also been revived and children from Scoil Bhríde have performed at the Hallelujah Concert at The Point, (Now the O2), Dublin since 2001. The school Band, under the guidance of Sr. Pauline Morris was established in 1979 and have participated in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on annual basis for the majority of years since its foundation. The band became part of the huge musical tradition and great rivalry developed between the local schools as the marching bands prepared for the big event. The band marched through Shantalla the week before the St. Patrick’s Day parade giving the local community the first opportunity of seeing the dress rehearsal and also as a way of acknowledging their support for the school. The band achieved national recognition when they were chosen to work beside Macnas as part of the 1988 Millennium celebrations in Dublin. This gave national exposure to the band and also developed a close bond between Macnas and the school, which lasted right into the new Millennium. The Gulliver Parade is now part of Scoil Bhríde folklore and the connections made also afforded the school the opportunity to work with the The Sawdoctors. The Saw Doctors’ Crackle and Buzz had its world premiere at the Claddagh Palace Cinema in Galway in 1988. The Saw Doctors played live from the cinema’s balcony, caricaturing the short acoustic set U2 played atop the Savoy Cinema on O’Connell Street when Rattle and Hum premiered there on the 27th of October 1988. Footage from the tongue-in-cheek stunt was featured on RTÉ’s main evening news and can now been accessed through our web site or on YouTube.
Our sports programme developed hugely from the late 1980s – on, and teams represented the school in a variety of different sports including hurling, football, soccer, tag rugby and athletics. The school achieved county success in 2004 when the school won its first ever county title in football by defeating Roscahill on a very special day in Pearse Stadium.
The development of a sports programme also included an educational element as Scoil Bhríde became the first school, in Galway, and possibly nationally, to launch an initiative to tackle the increasing threat of obesity. The scheme or programme was developed in conjunction with James O’ Toole of the NUI Galway’s Outreach Department and The University of Massachusetts, Boston. The link with NUI Galway further enhanced with the hugely successful Soccer for Success and Uni 4 U programmes run in conjunction with the ACCESS office.
Recent history has seen the inclusion of digital media as an important part of school life. The school has embraced the technological evolution, and have been equipped with the most up to date technology. We have interactive whiteboards in every room and a dedicated computer suite. The investment in technology has allowed the school to develop a digital media programme and children in senior classes are now involved in film making. In 2010, the school’s first feature film The Christmas Tax was produced. The following year saw the production of “The Shantalla Shooters” and the critically acclaimed third film from The WhiteRooster Production team “Watchin’ the Box“ got its big screen premiere in June 2012, when it was screened at The Eye Cinema in front of an audience of 300. This film has been nominated for best movie at the FÍS Film Festival at a ceremony in The Helix Theatre, Dublin in November 2012. Any of these films can be viewed here.
Other big screen moments from our history include an appearance by a pupil from Scoil Bhríde in the film Alfred the Great when it was shot in Galway in 1968. It is also worth noting that a number of our students appeared with Paul Newman in The Mackintosh Man in 1972.
The school has celebrated many special occasions and welcomed both the MCCarthy and Sam McGuire cups to the school. All Ireland winning captain Ray Silke taught for a period in the school which created huge interest in the local community.
However one of the greatest events hosted by the school and certainly one of the proudest days in the history of the school was the visit of the then serving President of Ireland, Mrs. Mary McAleese. The event was organised to mark the golden jubilee of the founding of the school and is etched in the memory of all who were privileged to witness it. The President spent over an hour and a half in the school and addressed distinguished guests, school children, parents, teachers and representatives of many local community organisations in the school hall.
She took time to visit classrooms and discuss with our children, the wide range of activities presented to her on the day. Her generosity of spirit in giving her time so easily and freely to meet with so many endeared her to all who attended and made the day so special. It will remain forever a landmark occasion in the proud and distinguished history of Scoil Bhríde.