Dillons Bridge National School
Farrelly remembers Dillon's Bridge National School.
the Dublin Road from Navan, beyond Wards at Garlow Cross
and there in the valley at its deepest point and before
you commence climbing Soldier Hill you will notice it on
the right hand side. A neat, rather pleasant sign erected
during the year 2000 by Brendan Farrelly of Navan and formerly
Garlow Cross and which reads On the banks of the Gabhra
River, in the corner of this field, stood Dillons Bridge
National School, from 1860 to 1957.
No committees were appointed nor were funds raised by groups
of locals to fund this memory of Dillons Bridge N.S. It
did take a good few hundred to produce but Brendan Farrelly
coughed up the pounds himself to highlight part of our forgotten
heritage and to pinpoint what was once a vital part of the
Garlow Cross community.
It was on Brendans mind for quite a while and with
the dawning of a new century, he felt it was time to turn
dreams into action in recognition of the year 2000
and in memory of so many nice poor boys and girls who got
their education there.
Brendan, now part and parcel of the Mellows Terrace area
(just off the Dublin Road) of Navan for nearly 50 years
now, attended the wee school from 1933 to 43 and had
many happy times there. I have very happy memories
of Dillons Bridge. We had very good teachers, the children
did not fight very much and no one mitched, he adds.
The school was opened in 1860 and closed during 1957, a
new age and the requirement of more modern facilities saw
the pupils move just up the road to Lismullen N.S. Ironically
the last teacher in Dillons Bridge, a Mr Cullen became the
first in Lismullen.
No remains can be seen of Dillons Bridge today, the school
when closed was levelled and irony of ironies that task
fell to one Brendan Farrelly or rather, his employer a Mr
Donnelly, who detailed Brendan and a local lad by the name
of Pasey Kennedy to do the necessary.
A sad enough task but Brendan Farrelly took possession of
a number of the old stones and they became part of two
small walls which I built in the front of my house at Mellows
Terrace. There they remain to this day.
So what were conditions like in the old Dillons Bridge institution
back in the 30s and 40s. Remember this was a
time when corporal punishment and other types of abuse were
rampant in schools around the country. Events at Garlow
Cross proved quite the opposite. It was a happy place to
receive ones early education.
Brendan Farrelly fondly remembers his first teacher, Mrs
Smyth nee Malin she taught me the serving of Mass
and also the Latin which I have not forgotten. Miss Malin
later got married to Brian Smyth of Skryne. They are great
GAA people and a grandson of hers is none other than Liam
Hayes. I was then taught by a lady called Bernadette Coyle.
She came from Monaghan and after some time married Tom Mooney.
I see one of his sons often walking up Flower Hill in Navan.
He teaches in St. Pats and some day I might have the pleasure
of speaking to him. The person Brendan Farrelly is
talking about is well known and popular Skryne secretary
Ray Mooney. Another son also Tom Mooney, was a very effective
Sports Editor of the Meath Chronicle back in the late 70s
Back to the teachers at Dillons Bridge. There were
many teachers that I heard about but all have sadly passed
on. However, I do believe that a Mr Murray from Dunshaughlin
who taught at the school, is still hale and hearty.
And did any famous students emerge from Dillons Bridge?
As regards famous pupils, I dont think any got
to the stock exchange or made it to the Dail, Brendan
wittingly quips but goes on to add, more importantly
most of them worked hard and done their best. I can say
for certain that since my schooldays no one ever got into
trouble except for stealing an odd apple.
On the football side of things, Dillons Bridge can claim
a big scalp as one Pat Reynolds, an All-Ireland medal winner
in 1967 and Meaths first All Star in 1970 received
his infant education there. Pat is, of course, the father
of the present day star of the same name and the oldest
of the famed Reynolds clan.
About 25 people who went to school with me are still
alive and well, Brendan goes on to say. Only
two men live under the same roof as they did back then.
These are John Brady and Jimmy Kieran. Although Teenie
Allen, who later married Don OBrien only jumped across
the hedge to live. They built a house beside her fathers.
So how big was the school and what were the conditions there
over half a century past? Brendan Farrelly states that
when I started school there were two lady teachers there.
One taught the infants in the small room and in the big
room the principal taught from second class up. As far as
I can remember there were about 60 pupils on the roll book.
Brendan produces a wee smile when elaborating on the toilet
arrangements. There was a toilet for the boys and
another for the girls. They were built over the river Gabhra.
There was no chain to pull, you just waited for the tide
to go out. We will leave that one to the imagination.
Cold weather was another problem. There were two fireplaces,
one in each room. In winter the parish priest would send
in some coal and when that ran out the pupils would have
to bring in a bundle of sticks when going to school in the
So do people pass any remarks about the sign? Yes,
I suppose when word got around people, especially the older
ones that went to school there or others who had a relative
who went to Dillons Bridge, would come up to you and heap
praise and say well done.
But Brendan Farrelly is not in it for the plaudits. He is
adamant I would do it all over again, to remember
the fine teachers and all the pupils who went there. I feel
places like Dillons Bridge should not be forgotten. I hope
that when the new road is built that it wont be in
the way of progress. I hope the sign is in nobodys
way, Brendan Farrelly, (a big supporter of Walterstown
GFC by the way) humbly concludes. Rest assured locals and
other interested parties are only too glad of its presence.