School History

Old School

A National School at Behymore (2.5 miles from Ballina Post Office) was opened in 1878. It had one room. This was just 30 years after the Famine. Some of those parents would have lived through those desolate, hungry years. All the grandparents of those first pupils would have had harrowing memories of the Famine.

Enrolment in 1879 was 149 pupils. This was the year of the apparition at Knock. We can only imagine what speculation and what sentiments of hope these children might have engaged in as they discussed the news from Knock.

In 1930 the school was extended to four rooms. The world was in deep recession following the Wall St. Crash. Our families experienced great hardship. Emigration was the only hope many had of enjoying a better life.

Fr. Tuffy's committee

School Opening 1971

The present school was opened in 1971 on a three acre site. The fund-raising for this new school spear-headed by the Manager of the Board Fr. Tuffy was conducted during the “Swinging 60’s”. It was a wonderful community effort. Memories abound of plays, socials, card games – fun and hard work. Floors were sprinkled with salt to make them slippery for dancing but of course the children preferred to slide! We owe a great debt to all past and present parents who contributed their time and energy for the development of the school.


John Keating 1877 – 1906

Michael Hegarty 1906 – 1924

Cornelius Lehane 1924 – 1925

Michael Holmes 1925 – 1928

Hugh Gallagher 1928 – 1969

Desmond Reilly 1969 – 1979

John Flannery 1979 – 2003

Johanna McKenna 2003 – 2011

Patrick Cunnane 2011- Present

In 1877 it was a one teacher school (John Keating) and in 1924 there were three teachers (Cornelius Lehane, Annie Reilly and Annie Courell). In 1944 it became a 4 teacher school (Hugh Gallagher, Annie Courell, Eileen Gallagher and Cristina Hegarty). In 1989 the number extended to 5 (John Flannery – Principal, Marie King, Geraldine Mulchrone, Johanna McKenna and Brid Munnelly.).

Today in 2011 the school has 11 permanent teachers, a shared learning support teacher, 2 Special Needs Assistants, a Secretary and a Caretaker (Patrick Cunnane- Principal, Geraldine Mulchrone, Louise Loftus, Susanne Loftus, Nuala Kennedy, Paula Cummins, Kathleen McSharry, Ailish Ruane, Séamus Philbin, Anna Moffatt, Ruth Hopkins).


In 2003 we celebrated 125 years of schooling a Behy. Many memories include respect for the hard work and fairness of some of the teachers while some recall a harsh regime of a bygone era.

Tales of walking to school, looking for tadpoles, fishing, detours on bikes – fun and mischief are recounted with delight whenever past pupils meet. Memories of bottles of milk or cocoa warming by the open fire or huddling near that fire in cold weather are revived.

One past pupil (Bobby Adamson) recounts how children had to cross a river at Behybeg on stepping stones. When the river was in flood children would get drenched and have to endure damp clothes for the day. The bridge was built in 1937.

Others remember carrying sods of turf to school, outside ‘dry toilets’ which had to be emptied at intervals by a travelling man. Bobby also remembers the boys and girls having separate play grounds.

An account of Behy school by a past pupil Canon Willie Moyles R.I.P. describes a one room school in 1919 where room boundaries were curtains.

“The people in the school area were on the whole small farmers with no antipathies to each other and the children were likewise friendly with each other. This one might have considered unusual as it was just after the civil war but we did not hold grudges and the friendships begun in school often lasted a lifetime”.

The old fashioned long forms and seats are replaced by portable and adaptable and chairs. The ‘cláiríní’ agus ‘cailc’, ‘pens’, ‘and ‘are now memories, all replaced by biros, copies, computers and printers”. (Marie King – retired teacher Behy N.S)

From its foundation the education system was a rigid compulsory programme for all schools with a strong emphasis on the 3R’s. Success or failure in adult life depended on mastery of those basic skills – the Primary Certificate at the end of 6th class was often the only public exam many pupils ever sat.

At 13/14 years of age pupils left Primary School and went into service or manual work on farms or emigrated. Very few went on to Second Level as it was too expensive. Free education was introduced in 1966. The Primary Cert was abolished in 1967.

Gradually education became child centred with the introduction of the Curriculum for Primary schools in 1972.

With the New Revised Curriculum of the 21st century children are expected to be active participants in the learning process.

Some of our past pupils include great sports people.


Fr. Peter Quinn presents the All-Ireland match-winning ball to Behy N.S.

Fr. Peter Quinn who attended Behy N.S. was a member of the Mayo team who won the All Ireland Final back in 1951 – this was the last time the Sam Maguire was brought back to Mayo. He donated the ball used in that final to Behy school where it holds pride of place. John Flannery Principal used to point to the ball and encourage classes by saying he hoped they would be on the winning team to bring Sam back to Mayo. The All Ireland Cup, not Sam however but the Brendan Martin Cup was brought back to Mayo and shown in Behy by a past pupil Ciara McDermott, a player on the Mayo Ladies team. She attended Behy school from 1988 – 1996 and was a member of the Mayo Ladies football team who won three All Ireland titles.

The school is proud of a recent past pupil Tara Dunne who is a member of the Irish Team preparing for the London Olympics in 2012.

 Some of our pupils are winners in the All Ireland Fleadh competition – namely, Carol & Ronan Donnellan, Shane & Creena Mulchrone.

 Jenny O’Donnell represented Behy N.S. in the 5-Nations Table Tennis Championships in Scotland and won a Gold Medal.

Many Behy pupils dedicated themselves to the Religious life working in Ireland and on the Missions.

Many are in the Medical, Veterinary, Nursing, Law, Business, Teaching, Civil Servants, Guards profession, successful business people, trades people, journalists. Many emigrated and contributed and continue to contribute to their communities in Britain, U.S., Australia, Mainland Europe.

The school community is always delighted to welcome back past pupils or families of past pupils who love to trawl through the rich store of roll books dating back to 1878.


4 responses to “School History”

18 10 2011
  Ronan (18:27:50) :

my granny is in the 2nd photo

20 10 2011
  Niamh (12:08:36) :

cool me and my sister Lily are the 4th generation of the Connor family to go to behy

17 11 2011
  PAUL (12:07:58) :

This school is so cool

17 11 2011
  PAUL (12:14:47) :

Thank you for my education . I love this school.