Brennan's "Schools of Kildare and Leighlin, 1775 - 1835" is a report of a survey conducted in 1823, and it lists 13(!) schools in the parish of Clane that year. An entry in the report deals with a school operated by the Patrician Orphan Society, later to become the Convent Girls School. The teacher was one, James Byrne.
The Girl's Old Primary School at Main Street, Clane might well be one of the oldest in the country. It was built in 1818 from the proceeds of a charity play held in the old Theatre Royal. This was twenty one years before the arrival of the nuns in Clane and twenty years before National Education. Originally it had only one large room, built on the plan of the Kildare Street School, both are now gone forever. The Kildare Place Society was a Protestant educational society which pioneered national primary education in Ireland. Their teacher training course was a six week course and the trained teacher was expected to teach 100 pupils, of all ages, in one large room, with the assistance of a monitor (a competent senior pupil aspiring to do the formal training course). That such a system worked, and worked well, is a tribute to how well motivated and how socialised their pupils were, more than to the training their teachers received.
The pupils in the Clane School were fifty orphan boys in the charge of the Patrician Orphan Society. It was extended in 1906 when the "Infants Room" was built at the southern end. A previous addition had been made to the rere in 1860 which connected the school and the Convent. The original room, which, incidentally, is fifty feet by twenty two, as described, with eight external windows and two fire places, was divided by folding doors in 1929, at which time the porch was added. Railings replaced a high wall in 1950 and the building was re-roofed. The previous ceiling was a fine example in stucco work, built by a Jesuit Brother for the nuns on their arrival in 1839.
Reproduced from "Le Chéile" by kind permission.