1706 – 2006
The School owes its origin to the plantation of the lands belonging to Gerald, Earl of Desmond. He rebelled against Queen Elizabeth and, after a long devastating war, was defeated and killed in 1583. His estates were planted with English settlers, among whom was Sir William Courtenay of Powderham Castle in Devon.
By the early 18th century this estate had grown to one of the largest in Ireland. Newcastle was the principal town of the estate. Courtenay was an improving landlord and, through his agents, the fabric of the town improved and as part of this process the Courtenay School came into being.
The first School was built about 1720 at a cost of £320 in a laneway between Maiden Street and the river and was called after Courtenay. This is now an auction room of O’ Donovan & Associates.
In 1826 a grant of over three acres was made as a site for a new school. The Lord Lieutenant subscribed £138 and the balance came from local contributions. Hence the three-roomed dressed limestone slated building came into being.
The Courtenay School became part of the national system in 1850 with Edward Curling as manager. Up to this time both boys and girls attended but the female section closed shortly afterwards. By 1858 the Christian Brothers were invited to manage the school. They stayed in the school until 1880. Later a teacher’s residence and handball alley were built inside it.
After a long number of years the fabric of the building deteriorated and, in the mid-1950s, was replaced by the 5-roomed building now facing the road. In 1977 the school was extended when six new classrooms and a General Purpose Room were added.
A special facility for children with mild learning disabilities was opened at the Courtenay School in 1977 also through the efforts of the manager, Dean O’Brien, P.P. In 2000 a unit for children with speech and language disorders was set up. These units cater for children in the West Limerick area and have the services of both a Speech and Language and Occupational Therapist working with the teacher. The Specialist units within the school provide a wealth of professional expertise on site which can be tapped into by all the school community.
The Courtenay continues to grow and develop. The recreational and sporting facilities will be extended this year with the support of parents and the parish community.
Scoil O Curnain – Tri Chead Bliain ag fas!