In 1831 the Chief Secretary of Ireland, Edward Stanley, introduced a system of National Education to cater for the education of the masses of the Irish Population. At this time, according to folklore, at least two hedge schools were in operation locally- one in Gortanumera itself and another in Gurteenpadder. By 1840, the national schools had become predominantly Roman Catholic with the local parish priest acting as manager.
During the following 20 five years six schools were built in this area of Co. Galway. One of these was in Gortanumera and grant applications dated 3 Feb. 7th and Feb 20th 1860, for this school are preserved in the National archives.
Ulick de Burgh, 14th Earl of Clonrickarde provided the site for the school, for the nominal charge of one penny per annum. The two roomed school was built at a cost of £170.00 and the furniture and fittings were installed for a further £32..13..4 making a total of £202.13..4. Funds were provided by the Board of Education together with a small local contribution.
Gortanumera National School opened for the first time on July 2nd 1862. A lady named Miss Hurley was the first principal teacher and a Mr. Bohan was the assistant teacher.
Following the division of the Clanrickarde lands early in the 20th century, the local population increased dramatically and as a result it became necessary to expand the school accommodation. To this end a third classroom was added onto the school sometime between 1930 and 1933.
In the 1950’s a perimeter wall was built around the school yard and a playing field, across the road was acquired. This field was also enclosed by a perimeter wall. In the 1970’s the old timber floors were replaced by concrete floors covered with lino, the outdoor dry toilets were converted to flush toilets, central heating was installed and a sink and cold water tap added to the hallway.
Apart from these additions, nothing was done to change the appearance or structure of the original structure until the recent complete refurbishment took place in 1997. (April ’97 -Feb ’98).