“The Harold” as it is affectionately called is dear to the hearts of Glasthule people. When Fr. George Harold fund-raised in the United States to pay off the debt on the newly built church, St. Joseph’s, Glasthule, he hardly spared a thought or dared to hope that his name would live on and become a household word in this parish by the sea.
When George Canon Harold, died the local people had remembered his efforts on their behalf and so wanted to pay him a worthy tribute … a lasting tribute in stone. The young parish also needed a school and out of the two needs was born the plan for the Harold Memorial School. There had been a school in the area, run by the Sisters of Mercy. The site of the school on Ballygihen Avenue is now taken up with an apartment block. The Sisters of Mercy went to live in the newly constructed St. Michael’s Hospital in 1876, a hospital that was to have a very long link with The Harold Girls’ School.
When the Girls’ School was built at the turn of the twentieth century, the Sisters were invited to staff it and so began the familiar sight of nuns walking to Glasthule every morning for well nigh a hundred years. Their numbers gradually reduced until it was down to one and that long procession ended with the retirement of Sr. Patricia. The Mercy link with the school continues.
Buildings, like people, age and wear down and in the 1980’s the Harold was certainly showing signs of age. Outdoor toilets were long out of date, it was cold and in need of a face lift. Glaise Tuathail (recognise the name) flows under the school and in wet weather flooded the boiler house. This O’Toole’s Stream, after which the area is called, enters the sea near Link Road. When the school was refurbished this boiler house was sealed off.
We have in our school a register dating back to 1872 …. if only it could talk.
A boys’ school was soon added to the newly built school – this addition is clearly to be seen – built in stone and painted white as distinct from the red brick building, under the patronage of St. Joseph. Both schools functioned side by side under the same roof – each with its own roll number – each with its own special ethos – until the schools were amalgamated in 2001 to form “The Harold School” we have to-day.
Demand for places in our school is high because our school has a very high standard of education. Secondary schools to which our pupils have gone have been so pleased as to ring up and tell us how good our pupils are – we like to hear it!
And so to the future - The Harold has served generations in this area and looks to the future with a youthfulness special to itself. Having stood in the heart of this parish for over 100 years it has taken on a new look and is now embracing a new future; expansion into part of the Presentation College building.
Those of us who carry the torch forward into this new millennium are keenly aware of those who bore it before us. We look to the future mindful of our past and pledge to continue to serve this community for generations to come.