Centenary of De La Salle in Ballyshannon 1912-2012
The De La Salle Brothers were invited to come and teach primary education in Ballyshannon by the priests and the people of the town. They arrived in 1912 but plans for a new school had to be shelved for a time due to the outbreak of World War 1. The brothers taught in temporary buildings in College Street and on the Rock. After some time the Rock School was vacated and the Rock Hall obtained. After a trial it was decided to keep the junior pupils in the Rock and the senior pupils in the College Street School with two Brothers in each school.
The decision to close the Fever Hospital built in 1848 on the Rock paved the way for a building which could be made suitable for a school. In September 1922 Brother Declan was the first Principal of Scoil Naomh Sheosaimh (St. Joseph’s School), so called in honour of the patron saint of the nearby church. After a long vacation the children of the district were recalled to the Boys’ School on Monday 25th of September 1922. They transferred to the Fever Hospital which had been thoroughly disinfected and renovated. This was the beginning of primary education by the De La Salle Order in the Brothers School on the Rock.
The newly renovated fever hospital had four classrooms, one music room, a cloakroom and an office. Attached to the building was the caretaker’s residence consisting of a sitting-room, two bedrooms and a kitchen. The interior painting of the school had snow white ceilings; the upper portion of each wall was light grey in colour and the dado in chocolate colour. The walls were brightened by religious pictures, natural history charts, pictures from Irish history and country scenes. Each classroom was provided with a set of new adjustable, dual desks, fitted with moveable leaf and tip-up seats, new school clocks, blackboards, easels, teachers’ desks and rostra. The school grounds had a playground and a fine pitch for hurling with a football pitch in preparation. From its early days the school had two hurling teams and a football team.
The school was officially opened in November 1922 with Mass celebrated by the school manager Fr. Trainor, manager. This was a very historic day for the town as prior to this schools had been conducted in temporary accommodation. The boys had a holiday after the official opening and were served with lunch on the grounds and before leaving had their photograph taken as a group. Students came to the school from Donegal, Bundoran, Belleek and Ballintra and the newly renovated building with the Brothers in charge had an enrolment of 190 in a few months