BRIDGETOWN NATIONAL SCHOOLS
About 150 years ago there were two hedge schools in the townland of Fahey. The old school at the entrance to the village on the O’Brien’s Bridge road was once a church. When the present church was built, the old church was made into a school.
Bridgetown Boys’ and Bridgetown Girls’ National Schools
The old school was a two storey building. There were two classrooms, one on each floor. Bridgetown Boys National School was on the ground floor and Bridgetown Girls National School was upstairs.
Both schools were officially recognised on July 4th 1850. The first principal of the boys’ school was Mr. James McGrath and his wife Mrs. Bridget McGrath was the first principal of the girls’ school.
Across the road from the old school site is a holy well known as ‘Tobar na Suil’.
Bridgetown Boys’ N.S. – Agricultural Education 1852-1874
James McGrath established Bridgetown Ordinary Agricultural School. An Ordinary Agricultural School was a national school with a small farm or garden attached, where agriculture was taught as a subject. Bridgetown was one of three such schools in Clare in 1857.
The agricultural class numbered about 20 of the senior pupils. Every day, from 12 to 1p.m., these boys had practical agricultural instruction on the farm. From 3 to 3.30p.m, they learned the theory of agriculture in the classroom.
On the 12th of January 1855, James McGrath sent a detailed account of his agricultural school to the Commissioners of National Education. This gives a fascinating account of the agricultural methods being used at the time.
In May 1874, Bridgetown Ordinary Agricultural School once again became known as Bridgetown Male N.S., although the theory of agriculture continued to be taught until the end of the century.
Scoil Baile an Droichid
Bridgetown Boys’ and Girls’ schools amalgamated in 1935. Pupils continued to be taught in the two storey building until the present school was built in 1960. The building consisted of two classrooms (in the present halla), cloakrooms and offices. A four classroom extension was built in 1985. While this extension was being built, some classes were taught in the sacristy of the church, in a prefab and in the school hall. Seán Cleary was principal from 1960-1968. Michael Drew became principal in 1968 and retired in 2008. Orlaith Foster is the present principal. Additional classrooms were built in 2011 and 2014. The present enrollment is 110 pupils.