Walking along Sir John Rogerson’s Quay’s today, one can see two riverine heads poking out of a brick wall of the Poggenpohl Design House near Lime Street. These heads, sculpted by Edward Smyth and salvaged from Carlisle Bridge, mark the original site of the Hibernian Marine Society’s School ‘for the Children of Decayed Seamen’. Also known as the Marine Nursery, this was amongst the first major buildings to appear on the Quay. It was built between 1770 and 1773 and designed by either Thomas Cooley or Thomas Ivory. At the time, the foot road to Ringsend ran directly alongside it. The School was a hefty structure, all stone – 300ft at front and back, 547ft on the west, 633ft at the east. The expense of the building amounted to £6,600 and was paid for by the Irish Parliament.
The grant-aided Hibernian Marine School was designed to educate and maintain up to 160 boys, the sons of sea-farers who lost their lives or became otherwise impoverished while serving with the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy. Once admitted they were given a nautical uniform and taught reading, writing, arithmetic and navigation. At the age of fourteen, these boys were then apprenticed to masters of merchant vessels or sent on board Royal Navy ships. The number of pupils peaked at 120 in 1799 with a low of just fifteen in 1845.
Much of the building was destroyed by fire in 1872 and the school was relocated to Merrion Street and ultimately became the present-day Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf. The original building became commercial premises but gradually disappeared.