04 - St Marys Secondary School (1936 - 2002)

04 - St Marys Secondary School (1936 - 2002)

Scoil Muire, or St Mary’s was opened for the first time in Dromcollogher in 1936 by Miss Josephine Egan, later Mrs Savage.

Miss Egan, of Knockaderry was educated at Ahalin National School, Rathkeale Secondary School, and University College Dublin. On qualifying as a BA, there were no vacant teaching positions locally so her friend, Canon Foley of Knockaderry who was Parish Priest in Dromcollogher at that time, suggested to her that there was need for a school in the Dromcollogher area. In Dromcollogher she approached Michael O’Brien who owned a substantial house in The Square about renting some space for her schoolrooms. She also rented rooms overhead to accommodate the teachers. Miss O’Kelly, later Mrs King, from Newcastle West was employed as the assistant. Preparations were made during the summer of 1936 and on September 8, Scoil Muire opened at O’Brien’s house in The Square, Dromcollogher, taking in twenty four pupils. For the second term, seventeen more students were enrolled.


In 1946 the school moved to the premises marked by this plaque, on the Buttevant Road. Formerly the RIC barracks, the building was rented by Miss Egan from Mr J Savage. In June 1950 Miss Egan married Mr J. J. Savage, a cousin of the building owner, and in 1954, they bought the premises. The school was co-educational from the start, one of the first such establishments in the country, as noted by Bishop Newman, and one of a number of lay secondary schools that sprouted in County Limerick at that time. St Mary’s grew in the depression of the 1950’s but it was the onset of free education in the 1960’s that saw the school numbers really increase. In 1971, there were fifty first year pupils enrolled. In August 1983 Mrs Savage died and the school continued under the management of her husband Mr John Savage.


Teaching Staff 1986. Back Row: Mary Murphy (Principal), Mary Bradley, Maria Keohane, Mary Hickey, Matilda Madden (Vice Principal). Front Row: Inset: Mrs Bríd Nolan, Nora Brosnan, Sheila O’Connor, Joan Moloney, Eileen Fitzpatrick, Margaret Crowley.

Reflection on Mrs Savage by former School Principal, Mary Murphy, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of St Mary’s. “Naturally, our celebrations are tinged with sadness that Mrs Savage R.I.P. who founded this school is not with us organising and participating in what would have been a joyful occasion for her. Setting up her own school towards the end of the Economic War took remarkable courage and enterprise. She loved to recall those early days and often acknowledged the kindness and help which she received from Canon Foley, R.I.P. when she came to this area. All of us – teachers, parents and pupils – owe her a debt of gratitude. I remember her as a Manager, Principal and, above all, a very good friend.”

Class Photo with Vincent Browne

Back Row: Austin Savage, S. Newman, Ml. Savage, Ml. O’Brien, Maurice Dore, T.O’Sullivanm Jim Doody. Second Row from back: E. Irwin, P. O’Connor, - Matthews, L. Savage, - Walsh, T. Murphy, G. Clarson, S. Hennigan, Con Egan, M. Noonan. Second Row from front: Joe Long, T. Burton, G. McMahon, J. Savage, S. O’Brien, T. Clarson, D. Cremin. Front Row: T. Reidy, Sean Newman, P. Larkin, Sean Noonan, Ned Enright, J. Scully, M. Sexton, Phil Burton, Vincent Browne.

The pupils that enrolled on the first day in 1936 were: John Francis O’Kelly, Dromcollogher; Louis A O’Kelly, Dromcollogher; Timothy Cotter, Broadford; Patrick M Noonan, Dromcollogher; John J Broderick, Dromcollogher; Thomas Walsh, Milford; Kathleen O’Connell, Dromcollogher; Shaun Sheahan, Dromcollogher; Tobias Crowley, Dromcollogher; John O’Brien, Dromcollogher; Margaret Stokes, Tullylease; Joan White, Dromcollogher; Nora O’Connor, Mountcollins; Nora Fitzgerald, Broadford; Hannah Cronin, Tullylease; Rita Hennessy, Broadford; John Riordan, Feoghanagh; Peggy Duggan, Broadford; Bridget Roche; Thomas Watson, Milford; Kitty Sweeney, Farran, Dromcollogher; Mary O’Donoghue, Killeedy; Michael Sullivan, Dromcollogher; Nora Wall, Dromcollogher; Tim Stokes, Tullylease. Louis O’Kelly records that for the second term, seventeen more students were enrolled, namely: Annie Sweeney, Dromcollogher; Bridget Danaher, Ashford; Kitty shine, Knocktoosh; James Sweeney, Dromcollogher; Thomas Long, Feenagh; Mary O’Connor, Feenagh; Lily O’Mahony; Mary Larkin, Knocktoosh; Helen E Irwin, Kilmeedy; Mary Wall, Dromcollogher; Ellen Irwin, Feenagh; Nora O’Connor, Freemount; Mary Burke, Dromcollogher; Eileen Buckley, Knocktoosh; Mary Buckley, Knocktoosh; Frances Shine, Knocktoosh; Bridget Fitzgibbon.

Class Photo 65 - 70

Class 1965 to 1970. Front Row: Reena Brosnan, Mary Donegan, Betty Donegan, Nora Moloney, Dolores Quirke, Joan Hannigan. Middle Row: Peggy Fehin, Margaret O’Sullivan, Eileen Leahy, Kitty Noonan, Geraldine Boyce. Back Row: Tony McCarthy, John McCarthy, Liam Farrell, Mike O’Kelly, Martin Sheehan.

Class 1954

Class of 1954. Back Row: Eddie Barry, Mike O’Brien, T. O’Sullivan, Danny Greene. Middle Row: Lily Matthews, K. O’Sullivan, Kathy O’Sullivan, Ita O’Sullivan, Hilda Broderick. Front Row: Mary Stack, Michael Savage, Mike Roche, Ned Noonan, Sean Hickey, Joan O’Brien.

St Mary's in 2005

St Mary's Secondary School in 2005.

Class Inter Cert 87

Inter Cert 1987. Back Row: Jack Ruddock, Eamonn Scollard, Patrick Wright, Noel Cronin, Ben O’Sullivan, Donie Murphy, John Flynn, Kieran O’Connor. Middle Row: Margaret Greaney, Chris O’Connell, Fiona Cleary, Catherine Donegan, Kathleen Wright, Catherine Noonan, Liz Folan, Carmel O’Sullivan, Catherine Roche. Front Row: Joan Clifford, Deirdre O’Sullivan, Lily O’Sullivan, Eileen Bucke, Ellen Curtin, Andrea McGovern, Lind O’Mahony, Noreen Noonan.

Class 2nd Year 1987

2nd Year 1987. Back Row: Eileen O’Keeffe, Jane Dwyer, Bernadette Molyneaux, Pat Murphy, Conor Curtin, Denis Scollard, Glyn Frawley. Middle Row: Noreen Ruddock, Marie Browne, Martina Sheehy, John Downey, Pauline Noonan, Roger Scollard, Eugene Sheehy, Kieran Insley, Michael O’Sullivan. Front Row: Liam Murphy, Eilish Walsh, Anita Noonan, Siobhan Reidy, Charlotte Lenihan, Bridget Stack, Aoife Gore, Sharon O’Keeffe, Marie Noonan.

Class Leaving Cert Year 2005

St Mary's continued its commitment to education, preparing this class for Leaving Cert in 2005. Back Row: Rory Biggane, Mary Fitzpatrick, Elizabeth Reidy, Elizabeth Larkin, Thomas Moloney. Front Row: Karen Murphy, Niamh Collins, Margaret McLoughlin, Marita Kirwin, Nora Kelly. At this time the teaching staff at St Mary's were Mary Murphy, Maria Keoghane, Joan Moloney, Sheila O'Connor, Mary Bradley, Margaret Crowley, Eileen Fitzpatrick, Breda McCarthy, The manager was John Moher and Phil Buckley was caretaker.