From the very beginning
of St Patrick’s Parish there has always been a school
mentioned in connection with St Patrick’s in Kilsyth.
The Scottish Catholic Directory of 1865 states that even before
the arrival of Fr John Galvin
in January 1865, the first priest stationed in Kilsyth since
the Reformation, that evening and weekend classes were already
in ‘good working order’. The first classes
were Catechism classes and evening classes for young adults.
When Canon Murphy
came to Kilsyth in late 1873 as Parish Priest, one of the
major tasks he accomplished was the building of a school.
This work he started in 1874 and to the resulting school building
a later addition was made in 1896. He appointed Mr
Stone as the first headmaster, and this was as far as
the school progressed until the appointment of Canon
Macnamara in 1903. He extended the school accommodation
by adding a second storey containing three new classrooms
in 1908. By this time, Mr
Stone, the first headmaster, had left for a post in Sunderland
and was succeeded by Miss Gallacher as Headmistress. She worked
closely with Miss Keane who was infantmistress and it was
Miss Keane who succeeded Miss Gallacher when she left in 1910
to be married. While Miss Keane was Headmistress the school
roll was between 350 and 400 pupils, from infants to the supplementary
stage. Her staff was entirely female until the arrival of
Mr Boyle and later Mr
Patrick Doherty who was appointed first assistant.
As a result of the 1918 Education Act, the responsibility
for the provision of school buildings and staffing was transferred
from the Parish to Stirling Education Committee, with certain
aspects of the children’s education still controlled
by the Church authorities.
The Act guaranteed the following
rights for the Catholic community:
Catholic schools were to be fully funded by the state
not the parish congregation and in return were to be
open to inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectors.
• As public schools, Catholic schools were to
be open to all, but provided primarily to serve the
needs of the Catholic community.
• The Church was expected to approve all teachers
in Catholic schools as to their religious belief and
character; the local education authority was to appoint,
with the approval of the Church, a supervisor for religious
education in Catholic schools.
From this time, parents began to take advantage of the benefits
of the Act to obtain secondary education for their children
even although this meant a great sacrifice for some at this
time. Nevertheless the Parish of St Patrick’s was to
see and enjoy the fruits of these sacrifices in the years
that lay ahead.
Meanwhile the old school building was gradually becoming quite
inadequate for the number of pupils attending, but due to
the economic depression and the contraction of public spending
very little could be done to improve these conditions. In
1929 apart from the main school building, St Patrick’s
school classes spread into the Burngreen School (now the Old
Library) and then to the Old Fever Hospital building (adjacent
to the graveyard) in 1933. There the facilities were extremely
primitive with the added inconvenience of being about a mile
from the main building. With developments in education, St
Patrick’s was raised to the status of a Junior Secondary
School in 1933.
Although facilities were limited, pupils were able to take
advantage of the benefits of a higher education. Just before
the outbreak of World War II it was decided to build a new
Kilsyth Academy, and so the plan was that St Patrick’s
School overflow could take over the old Academy building in
Shuttle Street to alleviate the accommodation problem. Work,
however, on the new Academy had to be stopped soon after the
beginning of hostilities and the plan was never enacted.
The increase in the school population continued and in January
1940 infant classes were being accommodated in Mansefield
House and in St Patrick’s Church Hall. The hall, however,
was requisitioned for use by the Army for most of the war
and so classes had to find alternative accommodation. Towards
the end of May 1944, St Patrick’s Hall became available
once again and classes vacated Mansefield House. The school
roll was then 497. When the new session began in August 1944,
pupils were transferred from St Patrick’s Hall to the
Allen McCann M.A., B Sc, principal teacher of mathematics
at St Modan’s High School, Stirling succeeded Miss Keane
on 7th January 1940. During his period as Headmaster Mr
McCann worked tirelessly for the improvement of facilities
in St Patrick’s School and when he was appointed Rector
of St Modan’s High school in 1953, he left St Patrick’s
a much improved and better organised school.
In the years after the war pupils continued to be educated
in less than adequate conditions. It was only when the H.O.R.S.A.
huts were built in Stirling Road in 1949 that something approaching
adequate accommodation was provided for pupils. The huts however,
were prone to bouts of flooding during the winter months.
The roll had increased by then to 587.
Hugh Dobie M.A. succeeded Mr McCann as Headmaster in August
1953 and Miss
Mary McCann became Infant-mistress, succeeding Miss
Elizabeth McCart who had been infant mistress since 1938.
For the next few years the status quo existed but in 1960
a beginning had been made on the building of a new school
in the north end of Bogside Public Park. It was completed
and ready for use in the second half of session 1964. It was
officially opened by His
Grace Archbishop Gordon Gray on 24th September 1965.
Dobie retired in 1972 he was succeeded by Mr
Michael G. (Gerry) Callaghan until 1975 when Mr
Andrew F. McGarry took over prior to the opening of St
Maurice’s High in 1976. Pupils from St Patrick’s
Parish also attended St Modan’s High School in Stirling
for senior secondary education. They continued to attend St
Modan’s until Regionalisation in 1975. The responsibility
for the school then passed to the Dunbarton division of Strathclyde
Region. Some pupils also attended Our Lady’s High School
in Cumbernauld to complete Highers. At this time St Patrick’s
School lost pupils from Banknock, Banton and Lennoxtown. As
part of the regional restructuring, St Patrick’s was
designated a high school, taking pupils from Primary 1 through
to S4 and successfully presenting many pupils for “O”
Level exams until the opening of St Maurice’s High School
in August 1976.
Further developments in education took place in 1980 with
the Education Scotland Act which formalised the right of schools
to have Religious Education and Religious Observance within
schools and also states the need to ‘recognise religion
as an important expression of human experience; to appreciate
moral values such as honesty, liberty, justice, fairness and
concern for others; to investigate and understand the questions
and answers that religions can offer about the nature and
meaning of life and develop their own beliefs, attitudes,
moral values and practices through a process of personal search,
discovery and critical evaluation’.
In 1996 there was further restructuring of the regions in
Scotland and North Lanarkshire Council is now responsible
for the education of pupils in St Patrick’s Parish.
In 1976 St Patrick’s became solely a Primary school
Anna Devine as Head Teacher until 1989. Miss
Annie Clinton, who had been in charge of the upper school
during this time, became Head Teacher after Mrs
Devine. She left in 1990 to take up a post with Her Majesty’s
Inspectorate (HMI). Mrs
Helen Smith became Acting Head Teacher from August 1990
until April 1991 when Miss
Patricia Monaghan was appointed. Unfortunately Miss
Monaghan only held the post of Head Teacher from 1991
until 1996 when she sadly died of cancer.
The post of Head Teacher was then taken over by Mrs
Patricia Clark who had been Depute for Miss
Monaghan during her illness. Mrs
Clark had a very long and successful career as Head Teacher
before retiring (early!) in December 2013. She oversaw the
present St Patrick’s Primary school being completed
in August 2007 and saw the old building demolished in 2008.
The new school building built on the playing fields of the
old school also houses St Patrick’s Nursery –
the non denominational state nursery facility for the south
of Kilsyth. The new building was declared open by His
Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien on Tuesday
the 26th February 2008.
Patricia Clark’s Depute, Mrs
Mary Bernadette (Dette) Canavan, took over as Acting Head
Teacher in December 2013 until the appointment of another
Acting Head Teacher Mr
Kristopher Thomas in August 2014. Mr
Thomas was appointed as permanent Head Teacher in May
St Maurice’s High School is the designated secondary
school for all Catholic pupils in St Patrick’s parish.
It opened in August 1976 with Mr
Andrew F. McGarry as Head Teacher, having served as Head
Teacher of St Patrick’s Junior High in Kilsyth during
the transition year prior. Later Mr Peter Mulheron became
Head Teacher on the 16th August 1991 and Mr
Laurie Byrne succeeded him in the post of Head Teacher
on 19th April 2004. Mrs Patricia Alexander commenced her duties
as Head Teacher on the 3rd December 2012 and is at present
in the post.
St Maurice’s has grown from strength to strength with
pupils involved in the school’s life, that of the Parishes
and the communities of Kilsyth, Croy and Cumbernauld. There
are many opportunities for pupils attending St Maurice’s
High School to achieve success in both academic and vocational
Likewise pupils in St Patrick’s Primary School have
a wide range of opportunities relating to the school, the
parish and the community. Over the years St Patrick’s
Church has had very strong links with St Patrick’s Primary
School and St Maurice’s High School where our priests
continue to enjoy a very good working relationship with both
staff and pupils. Pupils from both Primary and Secondary schools
had the historic opportunities to attend either the Youth
Gathering at Murrayfield Stadium or Mass in Bellahoustoun
Park in 1982 for the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland
or the Mass in Bellahoustoun
Park with Pope Benedict XVI on 16th September 2010.
J C Stone HT 1886 - 1907
Gallagher HT 1907 - 1910
Keane HT 1910 - 1940
Allen McCann HT 1940 - 1953
Hugh Dobbie HT 1953 - 1972
Gerry Callaghan HT 1972 -1975
Andrew McGarry HT 1975 - 1976
Anna Devine HT 1976 - 1989
Annie Clinton HT 1989-1990
Helen Smith AHT 1990-1991
Patricia Monaghan HT 1991 - 1996
Patricia Clark HT - 1996 - 2013
Mrs Mary B Canavan
AHT 2013 - 2014
Mr Kris Thomas HT
2015 - present
Miss Elizabeth McCart - Infant Mistress
1938 - 1953
Miss Mary McCann - Infant Mistress
1953 - 1978