The weekend celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the present Scoil Mhichil Naofa school building prompted me to search through the photographic archives. I was looking for some old school photographs and came across the two photos which are shown this week. One is of the gated entrance to the Convent of Mercy and on the left St. Joseph’s School which infant boys from Athy attended for the first three years of their school life. It was demolished in 1960 to accommodate the construction of the present St. Michael’s Parish Church. The earlier Parish Church can be seen in the background to the right. It was built in 1808 on what was described as swampy ground adjoining Clonmullin Commons.
The second photograph is of the same area, just slightly to the right of that captured in the other photo. Indeed the Convent gates and St. Joseph’s School can be seen to the left of what in my young days was the C.Y.M.S. premises. The building, or an earlier version of it, had served as a school house and that part of the building further up Stanhope Place housed the first Technical School in Athy which opened in the early part of the 20th century. The C.Y.M.S. took over the premises after a new Technical School was built on the Carlow Road in 1930 and it provided a wonderful social outlet for local men, young and old, for many years. The society moved out of this premises in 1960 to facilitate the construction of the new Parish Church and transferred to the former Old Comrades Hall, later the home of the Social Club in St. John’s Lane. Later still the C.Y.M.S. relocated to part of the Primary School building on the mount which had been built by Dan Carbery Senior and opened in 1893 by Archbishop Walsh of Dublin. That was the last premises occupied by the C.Y.M.S. which ceased to function some years ago.