CBS The Green: A History
THE Christian Brothers began providing primary school education for boys in Tralee in 1855. By the 1920s they were also providing post primary instruction at two different sites — in their primary school in Edward’s Street and at what was called the Monastery, or St. Joseph Industrial School.
On September 17, 1927, a committee of Tralee Urban District Council decided to sell four acres of the area known as the Gardens in The Green (the Town Park), for the Christian Brothers to build a secondary school. The driving inspiration was Brother Laurence Walsh.
As the school was nearing completion in December 1929, Br. Walsh died of a heart attack in The Green, just after leaving the building site. The new school was initially called after him. It was officially opened by Monsignor David O’Leary, Dean of Kerry, on March 13, 1930.
Popularly known as the Green School, it quickly made its mark in both in the academic and sporting arenas. In September 1930, it was ranked fifth in the order of merit for the whole country, based on the results of the Leaving Certificate and Intermediate Certificate Examinations.
The other five schools to make the list were O’Connell Schools in Dublin, Rockwell College in County Tipperary, Synge Street CBS in Dublin, the CBS at St. Mary’s Mount in Cork City, the Green School, and Limerick CBS in that order. The Green was the only school in Kerry to make the top six.
Gaelic football had played a vital role in bringing Kerry people together in the 1920s after the civil war. The Green helped to lift local morale further in the 1930s by winning the Munster Colleges senior football title in each of its first four full years —1931 to 1934.
With the introduction of free education in 1966, the number of students in secondary schools increased dramatically. Enrolment at the Green school essentially doubled since then.
Three prefabricated buildings with six classrooms were erected in the schoolyard, as a temporary measure in the 1960s. These were replaced over the following decades with four permanent structures extending the school’s facilities — three on the west side of the school on the playing field previously called “the Cripples’ Acre,” and the fourth on the east side, providing a new main entrance to the school. The first permanent addition was built in the 1970s at the north end of “the Cripples’ Acre,” with classrooms, science lab, library, and assembly area, along with administrative offices. A second permanent structure, built to the south in the 1980s, included a state of the art sports hall to cater for the physical development of students.
With the introduction of technical drawing, woodwork and art to the school curriculum, specialised rooms were needed to teach those subjects, so a third permanent structure was built in the 1990s to cater for those. This building was attached to the other two additions, and the three were then joined to the original school building.
Planning for the fourth and most recent extension, on the eastern end of the original building, was initiated by Brother Jim Whelan, who stepped down as school principal in 2002. He was replaced by the first permanent lay principal, Tony O’Keeffe. The new extension — consisting of class rooms and administrative offices — was officially opened on May 25, 2013.
The old football pitch in the area known as “The Paddock” was turned into an all-weather play area. The school, which has always had a proud sporting history, has won the Munster College senior football title a total of fifteen times so far, and the school has become active in other sports in more recent years — athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, golf, hurling, rugby and soccer.
More cerebral pastimes, such as chess and drama have also been developed. Drama, which had been particularly popular in the 1930s and 1940s, has been revived and produced to a professional level for the general public.
In the ninety years since the Green School was initially planned, it has undergone immense changes, in the breadth of disciplines being taught, and the development of facilities to enhance education, both academically and physically. It has a record of which Tralee and County Kerry can be immensely proud.
Class 6B 1963.
Class of 1959.
Students in the mid 1980s.