Rochelle School 1829-1979

Rochelle school in Cork was established by patroness Hannah More, along with Charlotte Abbot, the daughter of Cork based brewer Samuel Abbot in 1829. The school originally functioned to educate governesses, girls of a middle-class Church of Ireland background. The school was predominantly for the church of Ireland community and unlike the Catholic run schools, most of the teachers were lay people. (Walsh, chapter 8)

The school was based in Cook Street before moving to South Terrace by 1837. In 1863 it moved to Rochelle House, set in large grounds on the road to Blackrock, where the school provided a general education for girls: both boarders and day students.

In these early years, the school was managed by a committee of ladies and the governors. In 1863 the school moved location, this time leaving South Terrace and transferring to a more permanent venue which suited the development of an educational establishment over the next century. Rochelle House had been built, probably in the late 18th century, a short distance from the city on the road to Blackrock.It was a vital move for the school, giving it room to expand and develop over the ensuing decades. (Hewison)

The move to Rochelle also led to a name change (having been previously known as the ‘Cork Preparatory Seminary for Young Governesses), from the 1870s the school began to use the name of the house to which it had moved. It was known as Rochelle Seminary or Rochelle School, with the latter title increasingly used. The curriculum in the mid-19th century had expanded beyond English, French, drawing and religious knowledge to include Italian, history, geography, writing, arithmetic, geometry and needlework. (Walsh)

A significant change occurred in the early 1920s when the governors requested the Incorporated Society for Promoting Protestant Schools in Ireland to take over the school. This was part of a larger scheme whereby the Incorporated Society also took over Cork High School and Cork Grammar School. It came into effect in 1924 at Rochelle when the governors of the Society became governors of the school. (Hewison)


There is an account written by a student who attended Rochelle during WW2.

She describes hearing sirens and practising putting on gas masks. She also talks about a mulberry tree that stood in front of the school in the grounds. This of course is represented in the current day crest of Ashton. She talks about the day-to-day running of the school. She also mentions teachers and other students who were there, providing an interesting insight into a Church of Ireland girls’ boarding school in the 1940’s. (Attached as a word document).Rochelle School (Archive)


An article published in the Irish Times dated the 9th of July 1964, describes the schools main objective on opening in 1829:rochelle

“educating the daughters of clergymen, merchants and professional gentlemen, whose limited circumstances precluded them from affording education to their children in conforming with the principles of the united church of Ireland and England” (Horgan)

Therefore the school wanted to provide an education for middle-class church of Ireland daughters/ girls that was affordable. This principle is evident today in the ethos of Ashton as a school which is non-fee paying and therefore offers an education free of charge.

The mulberry trees are described in this article from the Irish Times: one having died and the other one blown down in a storm, a new one was planted in order to continue on with the tradition of the mulberry tree and its link with Rochelle as a school through the image  on the current crest.



This event was captured on camera:


planting of new mulberry tree

Pictured in the background is Eveline Wallace. (Courtesy of Anne-marie Hewison.)



From the 1960s there was considerable discussion by both church and state bodies about second level education in Ireland. This resulted ultimately in the merger of Rochelle with Cork Grammar School. More radical changes were to come as in 1972 Rochelle School merged with Cork Grammar School to form Ashton School.

Rochelle was no longer an independent school, but merged with that of Cork Grammar School to create Ashton School. The new comprehensive school was based at the former Cork Grammar School site (the same location as current day Ashton) where considerable space was available for the construction of a new classroom block, sports hall and other facilities. From 1972 Rochelle became the boarding premises for Ashton, catering for both boys and girls. Teaching was no longer carried on in Rochelle.

Rochelle then survived for a further twenty seven years as a boarding premises for Ashton. Students walked the short distance to Ashton in the morning for classes and returned to Rochelle at the end of the school day. Rochelle House closed in June 1999 and the property was subsequently sold. The buildings were knocked down and a new estate of town houses and apartments was built on the site. The mulberry tree was removed, but fortunately slips were taken so that the historic tree lives on. (Hewison)

The original site of Rochelle can be seen on a map in relation to the current day site of Ashton. (Attached as map 1) (O’Rourke)ashton (1).png

Map 2 shows the location of all three schools: Rochelle, Cork Grammar School and Ashton School in relation to one another in Cork City. (O’Rourke)

school locations (1)












Ms Whately

Ms King

Ms Marshall

Ms Bewley

Ms Hester Watson   1927-1958

Ms Elizabeth Coulter 1958- 1963

Ms Eveline Wallace   1964-  1972

(Walsh, chapter 8)

The library in Ashton is named after the last principal of Rochelle School Eveline Wallace, it is known as the Wallace library.



Eveline Wallace is pictured here, furthest on the right. This was taken in 1972 when Rochelle School merged with Cork Grammar School. (Courtesy of Anne-marie Hewison)

eveline wallace




Rochelle Reunion 

rochelle reunion

15 May, 1999. Rochelle Reunion. (courtesy of Anne-marie Hewison)





















Works cited

Hewison, Anne-Marie. “Rochelle” Personal interview. 25 Oct. 2015.


Horgan, John. “ROCHELLE SCHOOL, CORK.” The Irish Times 9 July 1964, Proquest: Historical Newspapers sec.: 10A. Print.


Lewis, Kae. “RootsWeb: IRL-CORK-L Re: Rochelle.” RootsWeb: IRL-CORK-L Re: Rochelle. 14 Dec. 2008. Web. 17 Nov. 2015. <;.

O’Rourke, Sharon. Figure 1. Ashton and Rochelle. 22 Nov. 2015. Map.

O’Rourke, Sharon. Figure 2. Ashton, Rochelle and Cork Grammar School. Map.

“Rochelle School, Cork”. Ashton School Archive, Ashton School, Cork City. 25 Oct. 2015. Print.

Rudd, Dorothy. Rochelle: The History of a School in Cork, 1829-1979. Cork: Leinster Leader, 1979. Print.

Walsh, Brendan. “Knowing Their Place? Girls’ Perceptions of School in Nineteenth Century Ireland.” Knowing Their Place: The Intellectual Life of Women in the 19th Century. Ireland: History, 2014. Print.




Cork Grammar School


The school was established in 1880 by the Church of Ireland archdeacon of Cork and Thomas M. Usborne, a prominent merchant. Cork Grammar School was a secondary school for boys in Sidney Place, Cork.  Founded in 1882, it was a neighbour of Cork High School for girls with which it merged in the 1920s. (d’Alton, p.1)

Generations of boys were educated at the school which had a small number of boarding pupils.  There was very little space for recreation or games at both the Grammar and High School premises, so there was great delight when the school moved to Ashton House on the Blackrock Road (current site of Ashton School) in 1954.  Cork Grammar School merged with Rochelle School to form Ashton in 1972. (Hewison)

The school uniform was maroon and gold, colours that are included in the modern Ashton uniform. The Cork Grammar School crest influenced the design of the Ashton School crest.

This website link describes the Usborne family estate of Thomas M. Usborne and his family who contributed to the founding of cork Grammar School:

Usborne estate:


A story about a raid on Cork Grammar School during the First World War:






seal of cork grammar school

The crest of Cork Grammar School: on the left the bishop’s miter is visible and on the right Cork harbour is depicted. (Both are still present in the current day crest of Ashton School).  (The latin on the crest translates to the following in English: God, fear, king, honour): (d’Alton)



cork grammar school 1950

Cork Grammar School, viewed from the south, ca. 1950: (d’Alton)


former premises cork grammar school 2011

Cork Grammar School (former premises), viewed from the north, 2011: (d’Alton)

The Irish Times; Jan 28, 1982


Victor Bond on the centenary of the foundation of Cork Grammar School, in an article published in the Irish Times mentions Ian d’Alton, who in 1982 commenced his research on Cork Grammar School. Ian d’Alton attended Cork Grammar School himself and much of the information to be found on Cork Grammar School is due to his research. His research paper is called: Educating for Ireland? The Urban Protestant Elite and the Early Years of Cork Grammar School, 1880–1914. It gives an interesting and thorough insight into Church of Ireland education in Ireland and in particular that of Cork City and of course, Cork Grammar School.victor bond on cork grammar school (Irish Times)

Ian d’Alton, MA (NUI), PhD (Cambridge), FRHistS, FRNS, is a professor of history who researched Protestant and Church of Ireland Education in Ireland, below is a link to his paper about Cork Grammar School.










Works cited

Bond, Victor. “CORK GRAMMAR SCHOOL CENTENARY.” ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Irish Times and The Weekly Irish Times, Jan 28, 1982 ed.: 13. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

d’Alton, Ian. “Educating for Ireland? The Urban Protestant Elite and the Early Years of Cork Grammar School, 1880–1914.” Éire-Ireland46:3&4.Fall/Winter 2011: 201-26. Project Muse. Irish American Cultural Institute. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Hewison, Anne-Marie. “Cork Grammar School.” Personal interview. 25 Oct.2015.

“ESTATE: USBORNE (BLACKROCK).” NUI Galway: Landed Estates. Web. 21 Nov. 2015. <;.

“Raid on School.” Raid on School. Eircom. Web. 19 Nov. 2015. <;.





















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