Kilcoe National School

Skibbereen, Co. Cork

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School History

Kilcoe National School opened to its first pupils in 1897. It replaced an old small school building which stood adjacent to the old Kilcoe church. The present school's beginning goes back further to 1890 when Fr. James O’Sullivan was appointed P.P. He immediately set about replacing the ragged buildings that existed. The old church and school were situated close by main road between Skibbereen and Ballydehob. When a new road was built between the towns between 1822 and 1824, a family named Gallagher donated a site near the new road for parish use. On this site Kilcoe National School was built.


From 1897-1924 the building housed two separate schools — one boys’ and one girls’ — having a dividing wall and individual entrances. In 1924 the educational policy changed to a mixed class system. By then the number of pupils had dwindled and staff had dropped from four to two teachers. These circumstances led to the school becoming a two-teacher school and it was to remain as such for the next fifty years.


In the late 60s, the Department of Education decided to update the school at Kilcoe. This work was completed in 1975 by the contractor Denis O’Driscoll, now deceased. Outdoor toilets were replaced by indoor toilets; central heating was installed; the dividing wall was removed to open a corridor in the school; segregation in the back playground was removed and the front garden, where pupils had been taught the skills of horticulture by Tadhg Spillane, was changed into a playground and surfaced with tarmacadam.


In the '60s and '70s the numbers enrolled in the school increased to such an extent that a third teacher was appointed in 1976. This called for a further classroom. The main building remained for the most part unaltered until 1991 when it underwent major renovation. The old building was modernised and brought up to date, the work being carried out by David Evans of Ardralla.


Though exact records of teachers over the early period are blurred, some information is known. The girls’ school was staffed by Mrs O'Connell of Hollyhill, Principal Teacher, with Mrs. Walsh of Marsh as her Assistant; the boys’ school was staffed by William O’Driscoll, Principal Teacher, of Maulatrahane, Leap and Jeremiah Kiely of Bandon as Assistant. When Mrs O'Connell retired she was replaced by Elizabeth O’Driscolll, a native of Cape Clear and soon after, Mrs Walsh was replaced by Hannah O'Brien of



In 1924, when the number of pupils had dropped severely, only two teachers were required: Jeremiah Kiely, Principal and Hannah O'Brien, Assistant. Elizabeth O'Driscoll married Captain Cadogan of Cape Clear and moved to the Abbey School. Jeremiah Kiely retired in 1936 and was replaced by Tadhg Spillane of Killarney. Hannah O'Brien married Harry O'Neill of Aughadown and remained as Assistant

in the school until her untimely death in 1947. She was replaced by Rita Spillane, wife of Tadhg, as Assistant. Rita Spillane remained there until 1957 when she moved to Ballydehob School. She was replaced by Johanna O'Brien who transferred from Lisheen School.


Tadhg Spillane retired in 1962 and was replaced by Cliffy Minihane. Johanna O'Brien retired in 1974 and was replaced by Margaret Hegarty who retired in 1995 and her position was filled by Margaret Fitzgerald. Peg Collins, who had joined the staff in 1976, served the school until her retirement in 1996 and was replaced by Eileen Dineen. Mary O’Driscoll joined the staff as a remedial teacher in 1994. When Peg Collins started teaching in Kilcoe she spent the first two years teaching her class in the gallery in Kilcoe Church before a new pre-fab was sanctioned by the Dept. of Education.


Cliffy Minihane retired in 2000 and was replaced by John Merwick as Principal. HIs wife Mrs. Aine Merwick joined the staff in 2003 as middle standard class teacher.


A new extension was built in 2008 adding a new hall, two new classrooms, a new staffroom, an office and new toilets.


The teachers in our school are now Ms Michelle Griffin (Principal, Jnr, Snr and 1st), Ms Elizabeth Walsh (2nd, 3rd and 4th), Ms Doreen Pyburn (5th and 6th), Mrs Margaret Fitzgearld (Vice-Principal, Resource) and Mrs Eileen Dineen (Learning Support).