Salesian schools were originally founded in the North of Italy by St. John Bosco in order to provide education for young people. There is now a vast network of Salesian Catholic schools and educational centres which span the globe.
Salesian Secondary School Fernbank, known and appreciated as the Salesians, evolved from a small junior private school run by the Salesian Sisters in Thomas Street from 1922-25. There in Thomas Street the Salesian Sisters, newly arrived in Ireland, also ran night classes for early school-leavers who worked in factories during the day. For day-time occupation and to support themselves the Sisters started a fee-paying private school, which transferred to “Fernbank,” North Circular Road early in 1925. “Fernbank” had just been purchased from the Cleeve family – who were famous for their toffee! From “Fernbank” they travelled back to the night classes by pony and trap, until those classes were discontinued in 1928 as a consequence of the School Attendance Act which made attendance at Primary School compulsory.
The private school in Fernbank continued until 1947 when at the request of the local Parish Priest a national school was opened. At that time housing developments were growing around the North Circular Road and the Ennis Road.
Soon after the National School was approved, the Private School ceased to exist. The children in the National School soon reached Secondary level and continued to study in what was then called a Secondary Top. In those days before the introduction of free second-level education, Secondary Tops were quite common and pupils gained Intermediate and Leaving Certificates through the free National School system.
In 1955 Salesian secondary school was officially opened and established a strong tradition of learning, success and excellence.
Four years after the school opened a decision was made to take in boarding students and the school was a day and boarding school until 1959 when due to local demand for places it was decided to cease taking boarders so as to make more space for day pupils.
Buildings were constructed to meet the increased enrolment in the late 1960’s and in the 1970’s. Then in 1995 a new gym was constructed. The broad curriculum and excellent teaching staff down through the years facilitated our students in the pursuit of careers in all walks of life.
The distinctive characteristic of the Salesians and of the Salesian philosophy of education is captured in the Salesian Secondary School crest (see above) which has the heart, the star and the anchor.
St. Nessan lived in the 6th century. His feast day is kept on the 25th of July, the anniversary of his death in 551 A.D.
He had a great reputation for learning and founded the famous monastery at Mungret circa. 527 A.D. It is reported that up to 1500 monks lived there at one time. St. Nessan is the secondary patron of the Diocese of Limerick, along with St. Ita and St. Lelia.
The first formal demand for a new post- primary school in the Northside of Limerick City was made by the Caherdavin Residents Association in 1974 and conveyed to the Minister for the Gaeltacht, Mr. Tom O’Donnell T.D. This demand was made to cater for the burgeoning population of students seeking second level education in the area.
Co-incidentally that same year there was a competition for a design for a secondary school sponsored by the Department of Education – the conceptual structure being to create easily identifiable Base Units related to age groups and at the same time provide fluent connections between these Base Units or specialist sections. (This was the original school building).
St. Nessan’s Community College was set up under the trusteeship of City of Limerick Vocational Education Committee as a co-educational school – comprehensive in intake; i.e. having full range of abilities and comprehensive in educational philosophy; i.e. providing academic and technical subjects with a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
In September 1978 St. Nessan’s Community College opened its doors for the first time, having a first year intake and a limited number of second year students, totalling just over 100 students and 8 teaching staff.
While the College was unique in design and structure, its life span, because of the materials used, was 20 years maximum and St. Nessan’s moved into a new, state-of-the-art building in March 2007 at the rear of the existing structure.
The School Motto and Logo
The motto FÁS, FOGHLAIM, FORBAIRT is represented in the school crest (see above). It represents what education is about: physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and social development. While any one of the three words in the motto could represent those aims, the triadic form of triple alliterative enumeration from the literary tradition of Sean Ghaeilge is most appropriate and certainly more memorable. Furthermore the triplication has a very strong Christian significance.
The school crest features, promotes and reinforces this theme of education. In the centre is the symbol of the person. The triangle is the symbol of the school. The circle represents the world outside. The position of the symbols as well as the triadic shape and the perfect shape of the circle have