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History

I
n 1754 James Caulfield, otherwise known as Lord Charlemont, then aged 28, returned to Ireland after his Grand Tour of classical sites in Italy and Greece. His stepfather offered him an estate in Donnycarney that stretched down to the shores of Dublin Bay in Fairview (at that time one could sail a small boat right up to where Fairview Park is today.) The sea views must have reminded him of his Mediterranean tour because he renamed his estate Marino after San Marino in Italy. His large house stood close to where the junction of Brian Road and Brian Avenue is today.

The main entrance to the estate was in Fairview (the site of St. Joseph's N.S. today), where an imposing Doric gateway opened on to a long driveway to the house. This same gateway is found today in another location - guarding the entrance to the Marino Institute of Education. Lord Charlemont's family motto Deo Duce Ferro Comitante - 'With God as my Guide, the Sword by my Side' - can be seen carved there.

Lord Charlemont hired Matthew Peters, a renowned gardener, to landscape his Marino estate in a particular style, a type of 'idealised Italian landscape' - open and informal, with soft undulating lines offset by carefully positioned clumps of trees. Here, till the end of his days in 1799, the esteemed lord must have lived a life of elegance and luxury.

By the 1920's the Christian Brothers had come to own a significant portion of the old estate, namely all the land between St. Mary's Monastery (the Marino Institute of Education today) and St. Joseph's in Fairview. Rev. Bro Killian Fitzgerald, who at that time was on the teaching staff at St. Joseph's, recalled that "even up to the twenties of this century, Marino could still be admired for its beautiful woods and its exquisite demesne."

But the population of Dublin was growing rapidly, and there was a pressing need for new housing. In 1924 the Brothers' parcel of land was acquired by a Dublin Corporation housing order for the 'Marino and Croydon Park Housing Scheme'. Over the next two years 1,283 houses were built on those 89 acres of land. Sadly, Lord Charlemont's old house was demolished in the process; of course his Casino still stands, and is an enduring monument to this Renaissance man.

It was clear that new schools would also be needed. Two acres of land fronting on Griffith Avenue was set aside was set aside for a Boys' school run by the Christian Brothers. The architect was a Mr. Ralph Byrne and the builders were Messrs James J Flynn of Thomas Street in Dublin. Construction of the school was completed in the summer of 1928, at a cost of 28,000 pounds. Also completed that year was Griffith Avenue itself, Dublin's first all-concrete road.

 
Scoil Mhuire opened on the 13th of August 1928. It was a lovely summer's day by all accounts, and a huge queue of prospective pupils and their mothers formed up outside early in the day. At the head of the queue stood young Patrick Bennett of 12 Carlton Road who would be the first pupil to be enrolled in the new school. The newly appointed principal of Scoil Mhuire, Brother P. Whelan, assisted by Brother Killian Fitzgerald from St. Josephs, sat themselves down at tables at either end of the school yard and each proceeded to both enrol pupils and carry out a simple assessment test at the same time! Bearing in mind that the queues stretched all the way down to the Malahide Road and from there back up Griffith Avenue as far as the entrance to Charlemont, one can only salute the stamina of the two men - and the patience of the mothers and their children.
 
466 pupils were enrolled that day, with hundreds of other places deferred due to a shortage of desks. The desk problem was soon overcome and within a year the number of pupils attending Scoil Mhuire had risen to 775, all taught by Christian Brothers in the twenty classrooms. …The rest, as they say, is history.
 

Piarais Feiritear

Sources:
Sean O Reilly : The Casino at Marino, OPW (1991)
Rev. Bro Killian Fitzgerald: Memories of Marino and Scoil Mhuire (1978)
Sean Haughey: Marino (1978)
Pat Liddy: Walking Dublin (1998)