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St. Cronan's Junior National School, Swords, Co. Dublin



St. Cronan's Junior National School is located in the parish of Brackenstown in Swords, Co. Dublin. In the early 1970’s Swords was one large parish with a boys and a girls primary school. Plans began to establish a new primary school in the townland of Brackenstown, which at the time consisted of a couple of housing estates and a lot of green fields and agricultural land. 

St Cronan’s JNS was founded in 1972. Mrs Garvey was the first principal and along with two teachers, Anne McMahon and Marguerite Colgan, St Cronan’s JNS was founded. The three class school was initially based in temporary premises on North Street beside the Carnegie Library. In 1973 they took in a fourth class and began to also use a space in the Old Boro school building.

Mrs Garvey and the original staff made decisions which shaped the school we know today. Their vision for a co-educational, junior school was made a reality and on the 7th of October 1974 part of the building on Brackenstown Road was opened. The pupils and teachers crossed builders' planks to access their new school which was still under construction. In those early months facilities were scarce and there was no yard, staff toilets or staff room. There was no phone service but there was a kettle!  It was the following Easter before the full 16 rooms of the original building were completed. For a time the junior school had empty classrooms and accommodated Harry Smyth, Peter McNally and Marion Moore who had been appointed to the developing senior school, while they waited on their building.

Anne McMahon was appointed as principal in 1984, a position she held for 23 years. The building of Swords Manor and other housing estates in the area led to a huge influx of pupils and Anne embarked on a 7 year campaign for an extension to the building. which was completed in 2004.

In 2007, following Anne’s retirement Brigid Manton became principal overseeing the opening of the school’s first ASD class in October of that year. Today there are two ASD classes catering for 12 children. Edel Moloney succeeded Brigid Manton and following Ms Moloney’s recent retirement Edel Blake leads the school today.

St. Cronan's Junior National School caters for boys and girls from Junior Infants to Second Class and has, at present, an enrolment of 519 pupils. The 33 teaching staff in St. Cronan's J.N.S. includes 21 mainstream teachers and a Special Educational Team of 12. In addition St.Cronan's J.N.S. has 14 Special Needs Assistants, 3 secretarial staff, a caretaker and cleaners who all contribute to our wonderful school community. The school is under the patronage of the Archbishop of Dublin. The mission statement of St. Cronan's J.N.S. is clearly stated and informs the philosophy, aims and vision of the school. It was drawn up following a consultation process involving the board of management, parents and teachers.

St. Cronan's Junior National School has a Catholic ethos, which strives to nurture each child to develop his or her potential in a caring environment.

History of Swords

Swords is an ancient settlement, dating back to 560 AD when it was founded by St. Colmcille. Legend has it that the saint blessed the local well, thus giving it its name, 'Sord' meaning clear or pure. The site of the well is just one of the attractions which can be visited today. St. Colmcille's monastic settlement survives high above the town to this day, with its 9th Century Round Tower and 13th Century Mediaeval Square or Norman Tower. Even those days, Swords was a very popular destination for visitors to the Fingal area though the visitors were rather less welcome - the town was burned by invaders at least ten times during the 9th and 10th Centuries. Swords Castle didn't fare much better and has been lying in ruins since 1325 AD after experiencing the brunt of the Bruce invasion and many local uprisings. This is a phenomenon which Fingal County Council and FAS are now reversing with their comprehensive restoration programme. All of these ancient and mediaeval ruins can still be visited today and have been an invaluable amenity to the area. You cannot take even the most casual trip through Swords without taking a trip back in time, such is the richness of it historical tradition. In later years the town played host to such historical figures as Dean Jonathan Swift, who often visited the famous Molesworth family at nearby Brackenstown. Sean O'Casey immortalised the area itself in his play 'Shadow of a Gunman'. The bridge at Knocksedan still bears a plaque to the memory of the 1916 volunteers, who used it as a meeting point before the Rising. Beyond is the road along which Cromwell's army travelled, on their way back to Drogheda. St. Colmcille's Church in the town dates from 1827 and among the graves is a granite monument to the memory of Andrew J Kettle, known as 'Parnell's right-hand man'. Together with more recent developments which has made Swords on of the fastest growing towns in the European Union.

Swords Castle
Construction work on the castle began in the 12th Century with the appointment of the first Norman bishop of Dublin, John Comyn. The castle was founded on the Well associated with St. Colmcille and is prominently situated in the Ward River Valley Linear Park. The castle is unusual in that, with the perimeter of 305 meters, it is far larger than normal for an Irish Castle and was constructed in piecemeal fashion over a period of 400 years. As well as being the home of the Archbishops of Dublin, it is said that parliaments were held in the great hall of the castle.

In 1583 Sir Henry Sydney, the Land Deputy, settled Dutch refugees in the Castle, who repaired and extended the dwelling. By 1641 Swords Castle was chosen as a rendezvous for the Anglo-Irish families of the Pale. Currently the castle is the only fortified residence of the Archbishop of Dublin to survive in a reasonable condition. As it stands at the moment Swords Castle presents a vivid snap-shot of 15th century life, comprising a gatehouse, apartments for knights, a chapel, banqueting hall, the all-important Archbishops apartments and two large towers, one of which was the home of the area's constable and his family.
Swords Castle was lying idle for a number of years before it was bought from the Cobbe family by Dublin County Council in 1985. The castle and the surrounding lands were acquired for the provision of the Ward River Valley Regional Park. The story of the castle before was one of neglect.

The Parks Department carried out a number of studies, including a conservation study of the entire area. They then undertook a tourism study before submitting a plan to Fingal County Council in early 1995. In March 1995 a plan for the phased restoration of the castle was approved by the Council and FAS, along with the parks Department, started the work shortly afterwards. The project is being sponsored by the Swords Castle Restoration Committee.
The council commissioned a number of historical and archaeological studies of the castle and it environs with a view to its restoration as a major cultural, educational and tourist centre, similar to Malahide and Ardgillan Castles.
The castle contains a tourism information centre at which visitors can find out more information about the castle and its history, is open from Monday to Friday.

Round Tower

In the 10th Century the Round Tower was used as a look-out post and housed the bloody remains of King Brian Boru and his son Murrough after the famous Battle of Clontarf on their way to be buried in Armagh. During the course of the decisive battle the Irish king’s army had routed the Viking invaders and at one point captured their flag. The black raven featured on the flag remains the symbol of Fingal today. Indeed the area gets its name from the Viking words ‘Fionn Gall', meaning 'land of the fair haired stranger', the term for Vikings who had settled in the area from the 8th Century onwards. After the battle many of the defeated Vikings remained on as residents in the area enriching the local Gaelic traditions with their own indigenous crafts such as wood carving and turning, wrought iron working, pottery, sculpting and garment design. The tower gives an unrivalled view of Fingal as far as the Mountains of Mourne on a clear day. John Sweetman, the United Irishman and friend of Wolfe Tone, was buried in the shadow of the two towers.