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O'Brennan National School, Tralee, Co. Kerry


O’Brennan National School opened for the first time on the 16th November 1868 and was situated in Tonreigh, Kielduff.  There were two teachers in the school – the Principal, Mr James O’Shea who taught the boys section and Ms Julia Clifford who taught the girls section.

As time passed the condition of the school deteriorated and by 1945 the building was considered no longer fit for purpose.  It was agreed that a new school be constructed at nearby Ballynahinch.

The new school opened in 1949 which had three classrooms, two bicycle sheds and ample yard space for the children to play.  There were three staff at O’Brennan at the time – Principal Patrick Lynch, his wife Mrs Nora Lynch (nee Reidy), and Mrs Kitty Dowling.

Master Seamus O’Connor became Principal in 1955.

In 1969 the small schools at Renagown and Maugha closed down and were amalgamated with O’Brennan School.

As pupil numbers grew so did the staff.  Elma Murphy joined the staff in 1975 followed by Kathleen Griffin in 1980 and Mike Sweeney in 1981.  When Master O’Connor retired in 1994 Elma Murphy became Principal and Breda O’Connor joined the staff as the new Junior Infant teacher.

Prefabs were added to the site to accommodate the increase in pupil numbers.  The first prefab came in 1982 and enabled Master Sweeney to have his own classroom.  Up until that time he had shared a room with Master O’Connor – and around 45 children!  The next prefab came in 2000 when Marian Kerrisk arrived and another in 2005 when Mary Slattery joined.

With the addition of these prefabs it was clear that the existing building was not suitable for the present day needs and in around 1998 a campaign began to have a new school built.

Minister Jimmy Deenihan cutting the ribbon at the opening of our new school building in June 2012.
Minister Jimmy Deenihan cutting the ribbon at the opening of our new school building in June 2012.

The campaign really took off in April 2007 when it was agreed that a GRD (Generic Repeat Design) from the Department of Education was the best way to proceed. At that stage the school held 169 pupils and 11 members of staff and was spread out over the main building plus five prefabs.

In 2008 Elma Murphy retired and Mike Sweeney became the new principal.

The Design Team was appointed and the Parents Council began to fundraise in earnest for the €63,000 contribution that was then required. The “Buy a Brick” Scheme was set up and after much hard work it was not long before they had raised the full amount.

In spite of the downturn in the country’s economy everyone was delighted when in 2011 the contract for the new building was signed.


In June 2011 the school was moved to temporary accommodation in Ballybeggan Racecourse, Tralee while the new school was being built. The old school building was demolished shortly afterwards.

The new school was completed in June 2012. Everyone was amazed at the facilities it brought: Eight classrooms, three learning support/resource rooms, a library, computer room, a staff room, a basketball court and a fantastic large PE hall.

We are now delighted that our dreams have come true and our fantastic new building is a reality. We hope our children and staff enjoy many happy years at this lovely new school.

Mike Sweeney and Barry O'Leary, December 2017
Mike Sweeney and Barry O'Leary, December 2017

In December 2017, Mike Sweeney retired and he was succeeded by Barry O’Leary as principal. In November 2020, Barry O’ Leary left to take up a principalship in Kenmare and Michelle O’ Brien took over as principal.

Barry O' Leary and Michelle O' Brien November 2020
Barry O' Leary and Michelle O' Brien November 2020