Green-coat School

  Green-Coat School
Engraving of the Green-coat School by Joseph Harris, Cork (Courtesy of National Library of Ireland)

TheBob‌ Green Hospital Charity School was located on Bob and Joan’s Walk on the site where the Kinlay House Hostel is located today.  The school‌ was founded by Henry Maule, rector of Shandon, who was a supporter of the charity school movement for the education of children of 'the labouring poor'. It was constructed on a plot of land belonging to Reverend Maule. The foundation was laid on 6 March 1715 and the school ‌was opened on 12 August 1716. The school was locally referred to as Bob and Joan’s, from popular names for a pair of statues of a boy and a girl, dressed in the uniforms of the school, on gate piers of the school. Maule mentions Bob and Joan in his book, Pietas Corcagiensis, published in 1721. At the feet of the statues were fixed charity boxes. These two statues (pictured right, and below left) were made of lead and adorned with the green-coat uniforms of the school — hence the name 'Green-Coat School'. The antiquarian Richard Caulfield recorded that the statues are said to represent the first boy and girl admitted to the school and that this rhyming couplet refers to their supposed names:

Billy Budds and Mary Heafy,
Made of lead and very heavy1.  

 ‌Bob and Joan
Bob and Joan statues on the gate piers of Green-Coat School
(Cork Camera Club photograph)

Admission to the school required “that the children be real objects of charity residing in or near the parish of Shandon,Green Coat School map and between the ages of 7 and 12 years”2. The Green-Coat hospital school was built to educate children and to instruct them in the principles of Christianity as taught and professed in the Church of Ireland. The building had a centre block and two wings, with a cupola and clock on the roof. The centre block displayed a plaque, with the following text: This hospital was founded, anno domini MDCCXV [1715] for the christian instruction of the poor children of the parish of St Mary Shandon, Cork3. The centre part of the building housed schoolrooms and apartments for the master. The west wing housed a library and board room, and the east wing had lodging rooms for about 38 of the area's poor parishioners.  The map detail shows the Green-Coat School as represented on Rocque's map of Cork city in 1759. The school was built with the Joan‌intention of taking in 20 boys and 20 girls. By the end of the eighteenth century, however, the school was in serious financial difficulty and about a quarter of the boys that were admitted to the school had been expelled, ran away, or had been removed from the school by their parents. In subsequent years, with the help of a parliamentary grant,  pupil numbers were increased. Up to 40 children were being clothed and educated in the Green-Coat School by 1812. In the 1890s the parochial schools of Cork city, which included the Green-Coat School, were amalgamated and taken over by the City of Cork Church School Board. In the early half of the twentieth century, the Green-Coat School continued as a primary school for girls as well as providing a Sunday school. School continued in these premises up to the 1940s. After the demolition of the school in 1955, the Bob and Joan statues were preserved and are now on display in the lower part of the belfry of St Anne’s Church in Shandon.

 Green-Coat School, Bob and Joan Walk, Shandon
Green Coat School, on right of church, c. 1900 (Lawrence collection, National Library of Ireland)


Link to another page about the Green Coat School on this website


Samuel Lewis, Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. Second edition. S. Lewis and Co., London. Volume 1, 1846, p. 109.

Cork Examiner, 1 May 1973, p. 9.

Henry Maule, Pietas Corcagiensis, or, A view of the green coat hospital . . .. 1721

The people's North Parish pilgrimage: a souvenir publication. Typing Times Publishing House, Cork, 2000, p. 10.

Seán Ó Coindealbháin, 'Schools and schooling in Cork city', in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Cork, 1943, pp. 44-57. (p. 46)

1Richard Caufield, 'Dr Caulfield's antiquarian notes', in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Cork Historical and Archaeological SocietyCork, 1904, pp. 254-65. (p. 264)

2Michael V. Conlon, 'Some old Cork charities', in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Cork, 1943, pp. 86-94. (pp. 88-9) 

3Charles Smith, The ancient and present state of the county and city of Cork, p. 398. Cork, 1815.

Peadar McCann, 'Cork city's eighteenth-century charity schools: origins and early history', in Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 1979, pp. 102-11.  (pp. 106-111) 

Peter Foynes, Walking Shandon: A guide to Cork's historic heart. Cork Butter Museum, 2007, p. 20.

Cork City Libraries, Grand Parade, Cork, Ireland.
Contact us: Tel. +353 21 4924900 | Fax. + 353 21 4275684 | Email: