Council celebrates 200th anniversary of North Monastery school's founding

Thu, Apr 7, 2011, 01:00

CORK CITY Council, led by Lord Mayor Michael O’Connell, last night marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of the North Monastery CBS Secondary School by convening a special meeting outside the council chamber

The council unanimously passed a motion of congratulations to the school on its bicentenary.

Mr O’Connell said it was “a special privilege” for him as a past pupil to recognise the contribution the school has made to the political, cultural sporting and economic life of the city and the country as a whole since its foundation in 1811.

“The North Mon for two centuries has produced pupils whose civic mindedness and sense of innate justice and fairness was instilled in them by their teachers, both religious and lay,” he said.

The school, which will host a visit by President Mary McAleese next Monday, was founded on November 9th, 1811, when Br Jerome O’Connor and Br John Baptist Leonard were given charge of a school on Chapel Lane by the bishop of Cork, Dr Francis Moylan.

It moved to its current site near the North Cathedral in 1814 when a 14 acre site was acquired from a wealthy Catholic businessman, Sir George Gould Bart, and a new school was built, which over the years has provided education for thousands of Corkonians

Many of the thousands of pupils who passed through the doors of “the Mon” as it is known in Cork have gone on to achieve success in the worlds of politics, business, sport and the arts.

Poet and novelist Gerald Griffin became a member of the North Monastery in 1839, while the inventor of the submarine, Br John Philip Holland, also taught for a time at the school, as did Br James Dominic Burke, recognised as the founder of vocational education in Ireland.

Among the many notable figures to attend the school were the former lord mayors of Cork, Tomás Mac Curtain, who paid an official visit to the school just days before he was murdered in March 1920, and Terence Mac Swiney who died on hunger strike in Brixton.

Other notable political figures to be educated there include former taoiseach Jack Lynch and former TDs Bernard Allen of Fine Gael and Danny Wallace of Fianna Fáil, as well as former Irish Communist Party leader Michael O’Riordan, who fought with the International Brigades in Spain.

Short-story writer Frank O’Connor also attended the school, as did Irish poets Seán Ó Ríordáin and Seán Ó Tuama. Present-day writers Theo Dorgan and Conal Creedon are past pupils, along with broadcasters John Creedon and Matt Cooper.

Actors Niall Tóibín, Chris Curran and Joe Lynch were also educated at the Mon, as was Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Guitarist Rory Gallagher also went to the school, as did Cork Film Festival director Mick Hannigan, runner Mark Carroll and solicitor Frank Buttimer.

The school has proven a nursery for Cork GAA over the years with hurlers such as Johnny Clifford, Denis Coughlan, Donal O’Grady, Tomás Mulcahy, Tony O’Sullivan, Teddy McCarthy, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Setanta Ó hAilpín all going there.