About Us

St. Patrick’s NS, Drumshanbo:

Mission Statement

St. Patrick’s N.S. is a Catholic ethos school under the patronage of the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise.

We provide a welcoming and safe environment where all pupils are equally respected.

Friendship and co-operation are at the heart of our school.

We cultivate a positive atmosphere where children are inspired to achieve their full potential.

General Information:

School Ethos

St. Patrick’s N.S. is a co-educational Catholic primary school, serving the people in the parish of Murhaun under the patronage of the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise. The school has a commitment to diversity and inclusivity, while, at the same time, protecting the integrity and Catholic ethos of the school.

Our school caters for the full range of classes from Junior Infants to Sixth as well as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Class (ASD).

Currently there are 15 full-time teachers on the staff, comprising of an administrative principal, 8 mainstream teachers, 4 learning support teachers, and 2 ASD class teacher. We have two job-sharing teaching posts at the moment too. We have 5  S.N.A.s employed in the ASD classes while 3 S.N.A.’s are employed in mainstream classes. We also have an additional EAL teacher.

St. Patrick’s National School depends on the grants and teacher resources provided by the Department of Education and Science and operate within the regulations laid down, from time to time by the Department.  Our school policies have regard for the resources and funding available. No fees or contributions will be sought or charged as a condition of application for admission to the school or of continued enrolment in the school following admission.

The school follows the curricular programme prescribed by the Department of Education and Science, which may be amended from time to time, in accordance with Section 9 and 30 of the Education Act 1998.

Within the context and parameters of Department regulations and programmes, the rights of the Patron as set out in the Education Act and the funding and resources available, the school supports the principles of:

Inclusiveness: particularly with reference to the enrolment of children with a disability or other special educational need.

Equality of access and participation in the school.

Parental choice in relation to enrolment.

Respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in society.

The school’s opening hours are as follows:

The school’s doors open from 9.10 a.m. to receive pupils. The official school times are:

9:20 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Junior & Senior Infants); 9:20 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (All other classes)

Morning Break: 11:00 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.

Lunch break: 12:30 – 1p.m.


Location of the school

St Patrick’s National School is situated on the outskirts of Drumshanbo, Co Leitim, on the Ballinamore road. The land on which it was built belonged to the local parish of Murhaun and the school is linked to the church by a very scenic path which runs alongside the school, past the Poor Clare Convent wall and the graveyard, and into the church grounds.

St Patrick’s National School (then known as Drumshanbo Central School) first opened its doors to pupils and teachers in November 1974.  It represented an amalgamation of Drumshanbo NS (now called Áras Pádraig), Aughagrania NS, Corderey NS and Cormongan NS. Drumkeelan NS joined a year later in 1975.

Layout of the school

 The school opened in 1974 with six classrooms, a general purpose room and attendant facilities. Very quickly this proved inadequate for the needs of a growing school population and a number of extensions followed leaving the school with nine permanent classrooms, a resource room, a general purpose room, a school office and principal’s office, staff room and kitchen as well as toilet facilities throughout the school including a disabled toilet.

At the back of the school, there is a separate building for learning support, which is divided with a sound-proof partition to form two classrooms. There is also a small building for storage. The school has two portacabins (used previously as learning support classrooms) and a storage unit. They will be used as resource rooms and PE stores respectively.

In 2021 an extension to the school has been completed, which includes an Autism unit comprising of 2 classrooms, with kitchen, sensory rooms, storage rooms and bathrooms. A large multipurpose room is also part of the extension. Some changes were also made to the layout of the existing building, including the provision of offices for the secretary and principal and the extension of the existing classroom. A lobby area was created at the main entrance to the school.

 Access to the school

 The main access to the school is via an entrance near the middle of the school building, as viewed from the road. Access is controlled from the secretary’s office. There are exits at either end of the building. There is disabled access throughout the school

Parking is across the road from the school and there is a pedestrian crossing for ease of access.

There are three gates providing access to the school. The furthest gate from the town provides disabled access whereby a car can drive directly to the main entrance of the school.

 Outdoor areas

The school grounds consist of a large yard at the side of the school which is marked for games. This is used for PE when weather permits.  There is a smaller yard directly in front of the school.  There are three more play spaces, two at either side and another behind the school. The children use these spaces for recreation. Each class has a designated area.

A small garden is located inside the main gate of the school. This is dedicated to the memory of Mary Doyle. (Mary was a long-time secretary in the school as well as being the wife of the previous principal.) There is a sensory garden at one side of the school.

There is a field behind the school which is used as a football pitch and play area when weather permits.

The school car park is on the other side of the road and a crossing is provided for the safety of pupils, parents and staff. There is limited parking in front of the school, mainly for disabled parking and for school buses.

 History of School

St Patrick’s National School (then known as Drumshanbo Central School) first opened its doors to pupils (189) and teachers in November 1974.  It was built on church land donated by the parish. It followed a pattern, happening all over the country at the time, of closing small schools and centralising them in towns and villages.  It represented an amalgamation of Drumshanbo NS (now called Áras Pádraig), Aughagrania NS, Corderay NS and Cormongan NS. Philip Fee was the contractor in charge of the building.  The first manager of the school was Fr. McHale.

There were 6 classrooms and 6 teachers, to begin with. The principal was Patrick O’Keeffe (retired 1997). He was appointed on July 1st in the summer of 1974 but, because the new building was not ready, he taught in Drumshanbo NS until November. With him was Mrs. Bríd McMorrow. She was appointed as vice-principal in the new school. Mrs. Nancy Woods was principal in Aughagrania NS until the amalgamation, when she joined the teaching staff of the central school. Mrs. Sarah Doyle was principal of Cormongan NS until it was amalgamated into the central school. Both Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. Woods were the only teachers in their respective schools. Corderay NS had two teachers before it closed – Mrs. Peggy Lynch was the principal and she worked with Ms. Minnie Conway. Both women joined the teaching staff of the new school in November 1974. These six teachers established a commitment to high standards of education, and, most importantly to the well-being and happiness of the children in their care. It is not surprising then that the motto of the school forty years later is ‘friendship and learning’

Paddy O’Keeffe recalls that the teachers met on November 11th and that the school opened to receive children on November 12th. The teacher had met during the summer to standardise book lists and to allocate classes. (The inspector, Pádraig Lynch was involved in class allocation)

We can only imagine the mixed feelings of the local community, teachers and the pupils – on the one hand they were probably proud of a lovely new school and excited to be part its opening. On the other hand, no doubt many were saddened by the closure of the small, local schools which generations of the same family had attended. Many children would have travelled to the new school for the first time on the bus – a new adventure.

Drumkeelan NS joined a year later in 1975. The principal in 1974 was Mrs. Foran. She was due to retire the following year and was reluctant to leave her school when she had only one more year to teach. Therefore, when the school closed in 1975, the second teacher from Drumkeelan NS, Mrs. Sheila McMorrow, became the seventh member of staff. The school was already too small, having only 6 classrooms, and Mrs. McMorrow taught in the staff room – now the resource room.

The next appointment in 1977 was Mrs Elsie McWeeney, replacing Ms. Conway who retired. When Mrs Sheila McMorrow retired in March 1978, she was replaced by Mrs. Nora McGovern. Both Mrs. McWeeney and Mrs. McGovern were resident in the town but had been teaching in Greaghnafarna NS, Arigna.

Numbers continued to grow and there followed in 1979 the appointment of Mrs. Pauline McGonigle and Mrs. Úna Brennan. By this stage an extension had been built to accommodate the growing numbers, comprising of 2 classrooms and an office. Mrs. Brennan was appointed as a remedial (learning support) teacher, which was an important development for the school at the time.

The next teacher to be appointed was Mrs. Patricia O’Connor in 1981. She recalls that there were 290 on roll at the time and she was the 11th teacher to be appointed. Patricia retired in June 2015.

When Mrs. Doyle retired in 1982, she was replaced by her son, Des – who went on to become principal. Mr. Doyle had been covering a maternity leave in the school when he was appointed in a permanent capacity. Ann Barrett was also appointed in 1982 (now teaching in Barna, Galway) again because of growing numbers and when she left after a year she was replaced by Máirín O’Keeffe in 1983.

At this stage the hall had to be used as a classroom as the school was overcrowded. Eventually, the old town school was reopened to accommodate junior and senior infants.  Máirín O’Keeffe returned for a year at this time and then moved again in November 1991 because of falling numbers. The sad and sudden death of Pauline McGonigle occurred in June 1990. She was only 39 at the time of her death.

After 15 years of teaching in the school, Mrs. Nora McGovern retired in 1993.

In 1994 Des Doyle was moved to Killenummery NS due to falling numbers in the school.

In 1995 the special needs class was established, and Patricia O’Neill was appointed as teacher. This was a very important development for the school. The class was eventually replaced by the Autism Spectrum Disorder Unit (2009) which is currently in the school.

Nancy Woods retired from teaching in 1996 but has since put her unfailing energy into the Joe Mooney Summer School which has proved such a success for the town. Orla Kenny was appointed as her replacement and worked in the school from 1996 – 1997.

After 23 years of dedicated work, Paddy O’Keeffe, the first principal of the school retired in 1997 and Des Doyle was appointed.

The death of Patricia O’Neill occurred in 1999. Patricia had a long battle with cancer. Those who worked with her recall her with great affection as a teacher and a friend.

Bríd O’Keeffe was appointed to the Special Needs class in February 1997.  She moved to Ballyfarnon NS in May 2000 and was replaced by Melissa Higgins.

Elsie McWeeney & Bríd Mc Morrow retired in 2000.  Úna Brennan then became the vice-principal.  Ruth McLoughlin and Pádraig Kenny were appointed to replace the retired teachers. Pádraig worked in the school until 2002 when he was appointed as principal of St. Hugh’s NS in Dowra. Ruth is now principal of the school, she replaced Máirín O’Keeffe who retired in August 2022.

In September, 2003, Orla (Scollan) Walsh was appointed and she is still a member of staff, currently working in learning support. Orla is now the Deputy Principal of the school.

Clare McLoughlin was appointed in 2005. She is the secretary for the Joe Mooney Summer School and works closely with Nancy Woods in this regard.

Regina Mc Loughlin was appointed in 2006 as the teacher for the special class. She is now working in our Special Educational Setting.

Peggy Lynch retired in 2007, the last remaining member of the original staff of six.  Úna Brennan retired in 2011 and Ruth McLoughlin was appointed as Deputy-principal.  Úna regularly still helps out in the school when we call upon her.

In 2007 – in the middle of the Celtic Tiger era – a sudden increase in numbers caused the appointment of 3 teachers on the one day – Louise Brennan, Jeannette Reynolds and Stephen Keane.  Jeannette and Louise are still working in the school.  Louise has an AP2 post. Stephen handed in his resignation in 2022 to pursue other professional avenues. 

Aisling Brennan/Kelly was appointed in 2009 and she too departed in 2022 much to the disappointment of pupils and staff alike.  Maria McGoldrick was permanently appointed in 2011. John Molloy was also appointed in 2011. Fran Battle was appointed in 2012. She worked in our Autism class and resigned in 2019.

In 2014, after 17 years of committed service to the school, Des Doyle retired as principal of the school. His legacy is evident in the atmosphere of friendship and learning in the school, in the warmth and inclusiveness of the school community and in the modern well-maintained facility he has left behind. Máirín O’Keeffe was appointed as principal from September 1st 2014. She was a pupil in the school when it opened in 1974, forty years ago!

Mrs. Patricia O’Conner retired, after many years of diligent service, in June 2015 and Kathy Keegan replaced Patricia. Sinéad Rogers and Michelle Kelly were appointed to the school in 2016.  Sinéad became a permanent member of staff in 2017. Martina Duignan, Maureen McNamara and Ciara McTigue were appointed to the teaching staff in 2017. Michelle was made permanent in 2018. Rachel Noone started with us in 2019.  Martina became permanent in 2019. Maureen, Ciara and Rachel all became permanent members of staff in 2022.  Emma Earley, Áine Smith and Doireann McManus are currently working with us too.

Of the current staff in the school, Ruth McLoughlin, Clare McLoughlin, Orla Walsh, Jeannette Reynolds, Sinéad Rogers, Maureen McNamara, Ciara McTigue, Caroline, Deborah Kehoe, Raymond and Sharon McGovern are past pupils. Maria McGoldrick is a past pupil of Mr. Doyle – from the time he spent in Kilenummery NS.

The school has benefitted greatly from a committed and skilled caretaker – Maurice Cullen, helped now by his son Andrew – a past pupil. Maurice was appointed in 1997. The pride he takes in his work is evident throughout the building and grounds. The McGovern family have been cleaning the school for many years – another key part of the team that makes up the school community. Raymond is a past pupil of the school. The way in which the school is maintained and is constantly being updated and improved, is always commented upon by those who visit as well as those who work in it.

When the school opened, it did not have a secretary – hard to imagine now – but eventually the role was assumed by Mary Doyle and is carried out now with supreme courtesy and efficiency by Caroline Flynn – another past pupil of the school.

The appointment of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to the school has been another significant development in the life of the school. Again, it is hard to imagine how the school could manage without them. The first to be permanently appointed was Mrs. Jo Cox in 2001. (She had been working in the school since 1996) Three have since been appointed, Mrs. Donna Flynn (2005), Mrs. Julie Durkin (2006) and Ms. Deborah Kehoe (2012). These were followed by Sinéad Dolan, Ann Flood, and Samantha Cullen in 2017.  Olive Murphy joined the staff in 2018. Davinya Sheehan and Sharon McGovern were appointed in 2022. They are involved in every aspect of school life and provide immeasurable support to pupils and teachers alike.

Mrs. Cox retired on September 1st 2017 after 16 years of dedicated service to pupils and to the school.

Over the past 40 years the school community – like every other school community has experienced it share of joys and sorrows. The joy of the school is in the daily interactions of the children and the staff. Everyone who has worked in the school has fond recollections of stories told, songs sung, pictures drawn, matches played, plays, concerts, tours, ceremonies and parties. Visitors always comment on the lovely, welcoming atmosphere in the school.

But there have been sad days too. The death of Kevin Gilchriest, a pupil in fourth class, in September 1990, was one of the saddest and most shocking events, remembered with great sorrow by all who taught him and who worked in the school at the time.

In 1993 Martin and Mary Kate Reilly were killed in a road accident outside the town, leaving 20 children orphaned, many of whom were pupils and past pupils of the school. It was a time of great sorrow for the whole community. The family had been an integral part of the school but was scattered after the death of their parents and never returned. All those who taught them have very fond memories of the children and their parents.

The death of Mary Doyle in 2009 saddened all who knew her and worked with her. Mary worked side by side with her husband, Des for the wellbeing and betterment of the school. She was the secretary of the school before such a post even existed. The staff and pupils mourned her loss with Des. She is commemorated in the little garden at the front of the school.

The school has lost many members of its community over the last forty years – parents, past pupils, board members and teachers. The photographic records so well displayed, remind us of many friends that we have lost, but that we still remember.

The school has reflected the changes in society over the past 40 years. When the economy flourished the population of the school grew, at times exceeding 300. In harder times, the school population dipped to under 130 – in the early 90s. The Celtic Tiger years saw a sharp increase in the school population with many emigrant families returning to bring up their children in Drumshanbo. During these years the school welcomed newcomers from many parts of the world. This diversity has broadened the school experience for all who share it.

The developments in technology have had a profound effect in the school with the interactive whiteboards replacing the blackboards and chalk. The Internet has brought the world into our classroom. In the late 1990s and up to 2007 a new curriculum was introduced with increased funding to help to resource it. In 2014 there was another update in the curriculum and we embraced the changes it brought.  

In June of 2015, Patricia O’Connor retired. Patricia was first appointed in 2015.

In September of that year, Fr. Burke was moved to a parish in Ferbane. Fr. Burke had served in the parish and on the Board of the school for 21 years and oversaw many of the changes during his tenure. Fr. Murray came to our parish and to our Board, also in September 2015.

In June of 2017, Jo Cox, the first SNA ever to be appointed to the school, retired. She was appointed in 2001.

In September 2017 a second Autism Class was opened in the school and 6 junior infants joined us. A new teacher was appointed to teach in the second class- Sinéad Rogers. A number of new SNAs were also appointed – Samantha Cullen, Sinéad Dolan and Anne Flood. They were joined by Olive Murphy in September 2018.

In 2020 with the onset of Covid, we all embraced online learning and we soldiered our way through the following two years together, supporting each other all the way.

Mr. Patrick O’Keeffe former principal passed away in October 2020 and the school community paused to celebrate his life with his family.  We are indebted to him for his professionalism, hard work and excellent teaching skills.  So many children passed through his hands and remember, to this day, the lessons he taught.  Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

Máirín retired in August 2022 after 39 years of dedicated service to education.  We owe her a huge thank you for all she has done for our school community.  She worked tirelessly and diligently during her 8 years as Principal of St. Patrick’s National School.  Many improvements and initiatives were introduced under her guidance, but the most outstanding of all is our new extension.  This new extension has improved substantially the lives of all who work and study in our school.  Máirín has left the office, but still visits weekly to teach National Children’s Choir and we are so grateful to her for that.

This short history of the school was compiled with the help of many of those who have retired from teaching in the school. Sincere thanks to them all.

Máirín O’Keeffe wrote this in 2018.

Ruth McLoughlin updated it in 2022