The original school building was constructed under the guidance of Lady Emma de Vesci, and was completed in 1885, its purpose being to provide primary education for the Catholic boys of the town and surrounds. It replaced a small overcrowded school at Stucker hill on the main street. The new school was staffed by lay teachers and during the second and third decades of the twentieth century Mr Burchill and Mr Danny O’Sullivan ruled there with a more than firm hand.
They were teachers in the old tradition and had served the town well for many years. In 1934 however, after much debate, the Patrician Brothers were invited to take over the running of the North National School which they did for the next sixty years. The stones from the old Workhouse walls which had been demolished in the early thirties, were used to build the extension to the north national school on the arrival of the Patrician Brothers. The population of the town increased steadily over the years and plans for a new School came to fruition eventually with the completion of Scoil Mhuire on the Ballyroan Road in 1995. The old North National School was redundant, but survived to serve again in the future in a very different capacity as Heritage House.
The Heritage Company has succeeded in its purpose of having Abbeyleix designated as a Heritage Town, seeing that it was unique in being the first planned estate town in the country. Many years of intense work and research have culminated in the town achieving that status, and in having its own Heritage Centre which is situated in the old North National School. In the Centre it is possible to stroll through the ages, and to appreciate at first hand how history has moulded the town and its people.