Glen Ban

The importance of education was a concept widely accepted in Abbeyleix from earliest times, and may be a lingering subconscious influence from the days of the Cistercian monks. This was particularly evident during the first decades of the century, when a variety of schools were established in the town and its surrounds. There had been a boys’ school at Stucker hill across the street from what is now the New Terrace at the northern end of the town. Mattie Farnan was the teacher in that school, and later the school yard became a favourite location for endless sessions of  “pitch and toss”. Apart from the Brigidine Convent and the Preston schools, other private secondary schools were started.  A Miss Douglas ran a school in Sweetview for a while and Mrs. Wilde organised one in de Vesci Terrace.  One of the most prominent of the private schools established was that of Miss Cora Mercier, which eventually settled in Glen Ban. This was a boarding school for young ladies and catered for more than sixty boarders from all over the province and a primary school for boys. The extensive grounds and gardens ensured that the school was almost self sufficient. Pupils interested in riding were permitted to bring their own ponies and stable them at the school during term time. The school uniform was dark blue with gold trimmings and the school crocodile, two by two, wending its way down to church, or for nature studies on the de Vesci estate, was a familiar sight in the town.