School History

By Catherine Costello

The picturesque village of Fossa is three miles west of the town of Killarney on the main Ring of Kerry Road. The first national school to be established here was in 1840.

Fossa Males Register

The extremely tattered remains of the Fossa Males Register is still in the school but is extremely hard to read due to its delicate nature. There is no record of those who attended the school from 1840 – 1865.

The first to be registered was John Hurley of Fossa who entered the school on July 5, 1865. The last boy to be entered in this book was Timothy Buckley of Aghadoe. His date of entry is recorded as October 12, 1903 and he was registered as number 504.

The next School Register was started in 1904 and it names all males who attended the school for the next 85 years. The first to be registered was John Courtney of Lackabane who entered the school on January 20, 1904. The last boy to be entered in this book was Seamus Malone who entered the school on January 8, 1990.

First to be recorded in the new register was Michael Quill of Barleymount who started school on May 18, 1990.

Fossa Female Register

Unfortunately the first register of Fossa females did not survive. The oldest record is the register which started in 1904. The first name to appear in this book is Katty Lyne of Lismongane who was registered as number 338. Her date of birth is given as May 16, 1891 but because she was transferred from the old register her date of entry to the school is not given.

The last girl to be entered in this book was Janet O’Connor of Barleymount who entred school on September 4, 1989.

Looking through this register I found that I was registered number 1087 and that I entered the education system for the first time on June 27, 1983.

The first to be entered in the new register was Shona O’Rourke of Grennagh who started school on May 18, 1990.

School Buildings

The oldest available Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula, or Daily Report Book, covers the period from 1932 to 1936. It gives the following details:

  • Roll Number 1600
  • Townland Fossa
  • Parish Aghadoe
  • Barony Magonihy
  • County Kerry
  • Poor Law Union Killarney
  • Nearest Post Town Killarney
  • Distance and direction from the school 3 1/4 East
  • Area of site ____ Acres ____ Roods twenty four Perches ____
  • Whether is school vested or non vested? dilsithe (vested)
  • If vested, whether in the Commissioners of in Local Trustees? Local Trustees
  • From what funds built? ____
  • Precise date of its opening as a school. 1840
  • Patron Lord Kenmare, Killarney House, Killarney
  • Manager An tAthair JJ O Sulleabhan

This book does not have the particulars of the 1840 school building written in.

The next Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula covers the period from 1936 – 1940 and it gives the details of the new school building which was built in 1934 in front of the previous school which is where the parish church now stands.

The new information which we receive from this book is as follows:

Roll Number: 17012 (Changed from 1600)
From what funds built? Roinn an Oideachas
Precise date of its opening as a school: 25/9/1934
Manager An tAthair: Padraig O’Cathain
Internal dimensions of each school room in feet:
  Length   Width   Height
  27′ 4″   20′ 0″   11′ 6″
  22′ 6″   20′ 0″   11′ 6″
Number of desks and forms: 12 length 9′
Separate Forms: 2 Length 4′


The Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula for the period 1950 to 1955 names a new school manager, An tAthair Padraig de Brun, who incidently was from Firies and went to school with my grandfather Peter Costello.

From 1941 to 1961 the same two teachers taught in this school. They were Domhnal O Cofaigh and Cait Bean Ni Shuilleabhain.

In 1961 a third classroom was needed. This was housed in a building about 250 yards from the school built in 1934. The building had been the home of the McCarthy family before their small farm was bought by the German factory and hotel owner Hans Liebherr.

The details of this room are given in Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula for the period 1960 to 1964. The room used was 28′ long, 17′ wide and 9′ high. It was first used on April 24, 1961 after the Easter Holidays. At the time it accommodated 33 pupils: second, third and fourth class boys and second and third class girls and their teacher was Mr Tom Long.

This building is still standing and is now used by The Hotel Europe to store hay for the horses which they keep on the land.

In conclusion I wish to say that I enjoyed researching this project. The sources that I used where the School Registers and Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethulaalong with some information which I gathered from my parents and school teachers.

I found reading through the registers and Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula very interesting and I was fascinated by the beautiful, ornate old writing. The only disappointments were that the first female register no longer exists and very little is known about the school founded in 1840 except that it existed and was behind the school built in 1934.

Average on roll and average attendance through the years:

BOYS   1932   1942   1952   1962   1972   1982   1992
Average on roll   27   29   42   50   65   85   95
Average attending   22   24   26   455   56   76   89
Average on roll   29   27   33   50   70   64   62
Average attending   23   2   29   44   62   59   58
Average on roll   56   56   75   100   135   149   157


The average on roll and average attending was calculated at three month intervals. Here I note the average attending in 1932, ’42, ’52, ’62, ’72, ’82 and ’92. I chose to use the results of the calculations made on December 31 of each of these three years.

I wonder why the Leabhar Tinnrimh Laethula for 1978-79 was more tattered than the rest and only covered a period of one year. I found the answer inside the front cover in the form of the following note:

Goideach and Leabhar Tinnrimh seo I Mi Meithimh 1979. Fuarthas e sa choill lastuaigh den scoil roinnt laetha ina dhiaidh sin ins an droch chaoi seo. Sinthe Tomas O Luing (Priomhoide).