History of St. Brigid’s S.G.N.S. in Finglas West

Where did the name Finglas come from? According to Rev. N. Donnelly, in Short Histories of Dublin Parishes: “Finn-Glais” = Crystal Rivulet. A little pellucid streamlet flows through the village of Finglas, falls into the Tolka at Finglas Bridge, and gives the name to both village and bridge”.

St. Brigid’s S.G.N.S. was built by the Sisters of the Holy Faith. It is the longest established primary school in Finglas West. In 2019 we will celebrate the 125th birthday of St Brigid’s School in Finglas!

Our history is more than a little complicated, so you might need to give your full attention to the next part!

St. Brigid’s Wellmount Avenue Buildings Get Started!
St. Brigid’s Wellmount Avenue Buildings Get Started!

The story of Holy Faith involvement in Finglas began in 1894. The parish priest of St. Canice Village Church asked two Holy Faith Sisters to take over the local girls’ school from the Kennedy sisters. The 2-roomed school in the church grounds was placed under the patronage of St. Brigid, attended by thirty pupils.

In 1918, St. Brigid’s School went under the National Board of Education.

On 18th May 1927, the school moved to a six-roomed St. Brigid’s School of red brick, which was built on Holy Faith Convent grounds, in what is now St. Michael’s Secondary School. To meet the needs of the area, with many children of school-going age, the Holy Faith Sisters gave over their convent on the same site as a school extension until the present school was ready.

St. Brigid’s Under Construction on Wellmount Avenue
St. Brigid’s Under Construction on Wellmount Avenue

In 1958-1959, St. Brigid’s moved to our present location on Wellmount Ave., where the Holy Faith Sisters actually managed four schools on one campus, with a total of one thousand, eight hundred children on their roll-books. The Sisters had provided the site at a total cost of €184,133.

Although the Senior School actually opened its doors in Wellmount Avenue in November 1958, the four schools were not ‘officially opened’ until July 1st 1959. The two senior principals at the time were Sr. Ailbe O’Reilly and Sr. Margaret M. Evangelist Smith.

St. Brigid’s was to provide education for the large number of people who had moved into the area in the early 1950s, many moving from the inner city out to the ”suburbs” of Finglas West. We are often regaled with tales of how life was in those ‘olden days’. In 1962, to try to accommodate the growing numbers at St. Brigid’s, two large outside porches were built up as extra classrooms and other rooms had to be used for classes, including the dressing room behind the stage and even the assembly hall.

In July 1964, the Department of Education ordered that all classes in Primary Schools be reduced to a maximum of 50 pupils. This meant that more space was needed in St. Brigid’s, and the solution was to provide sixteen pre-fabs in the school grounds.

By January 1965, there were 3,900 pupils on site, under the care of the Holy Faith Sisters. (Wow – just imagine what playtime sounded like!!)

Gradually other schools were built in the area and pressure on St. Brigid’s School was lessened.

At that early stage there was an Infant Girls’ School, an Infant Boys’ School, a ‘Middle’ Girls’ School (2nd, 3rd, 4th classes) and a Senior Sirls’ School (5th and 6th classes). In 1972, the Middle School and Senior Girls’ Schools both changed because of operational difficulties and become senior schools (with 2nd – 6th classes in both girls’ schools). On October 1st 1989 the two Senior Girls’ Schools were amalgamated, with Sr. M. Lucy McLoughlin as principal. They continued to operate from two buildings for a few years, until the Senior Girls’ School moved into one building and the Infants’ School into the other.

In 1999, an Outreach Unit was opened, by President Mary McAleese. This Unit contains two classes catering for children with A.S.D.

The Holy Faith Sisters continued to manage the schools until 1st October 2001, when the trusteeship was transferred to the St. Lawrence O’ Toole Trust, under the patronage of the Archbishop of the Dublin Diocese. Ms. Martha Savage became the first lay principal. Since then St. Brigid’s S.G.N.S. has continued to operate under the direction of lay principals, although we continue to cherish Christian values throughout the school. We’ve come a long way from those small beginnings back in 1894!

Our Motto

“Together let’s live for today and learn for tomorrow”

was created along with our crest in 2012 and both continue to be as relevant today as they were then.

Children's painted hands