Founded in 1878, the Cork School of Music was the first Municipal School of Music to be established in, what was then, the United Kingdom. (The Guildhall School of Music in London was founded in 1880, and the Dublin School of Music in 1890; most of the other schools of music in these islands were founded during the 20th century.) The Cork School of Music Committee reported, as late as 1892, on the ‘... numerous enquiries received from time to time from Governing Bodies of schools of music as to the rules of the Cork School of Music with a view to their guidance.’ The Cork School of Music’s early records show an initial enrolment of 161 and a staff of 5. The 1930 Vocational Education Act resulted in significant growth of staff and student numbers and had considerable impact on the scope of the School’s activities. The next 50 years brought particular development in the area of third-level education and the Cork School of Music, operating under the aegis of the City of Cork Vocational Education Committee, became the first institution in the State to offer a Music Teaching Diploma Course embracing academic, pedagogic and performance training. (The course was cited in the “Benson Report” [ The place of the Arts in Irish Education by Ciarán Benson, The Arts Council, 1979] as a model for a proposed National Diploma qualification.)
In the early 1980s the Department of Education & Science recognised the School’s commitment to higher education by granting it third-level VEC College status. On 1 January 1993, under the terms of the Regional Colleges Act, the Cork School of Music became one of the two Constituent Schools of Cork Regional Technical College – renamed in 1998 as Cork Institute of Technology. During the final decade of the 20th century, the School established notably successful BMus and MA courses, and encouraged research that complements its performance traditions that feature so prominently on local, regional, national and international platforms.
The initiative was with Cork again when, in 1956, the ‘Cork Municipal School of Music’ occupied the first school in Ireland specifically conceived and built for music education. Demographic changes in the greater Cork area in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s led to a greater demand for tuition in music and drama. To cater for this demand the CSM, during the 1970s, acquired a large annexe on Wellington Road, and in the 1980s established satellite centres at various suburban locations around the city. From 1993 to 1999 the Annexe was located in the Vincentian Community building in Sunday’s Well. While the new Cork School of Music was being constructed, the School was temporarily located in Moore’s Hotel and the Ancient Order of Hibernians building – both on Morrison’s Island - and the rear of Connolly Hall, Lower Oliver Plunkett Street.
The 1950s building on Union Quay was demolished in September 2005 and Hochtief PPP Solutions oversaw the construction of magnificent new premises for the CIT Cork School of Music as a Public Private Partnership project on behalf of the Government’s Department of Education & Science. The new building was handed over on 16 July 2007; students and staff arrived on 3 September 2007; the Minister for Education & Science, Mary Hanafin TD, performed the official opening ceremony on Friday 14 September 2007; and the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, paid an official visit on Friday 25 January 2008.
[This in an excerpt from A Proud Tradition written by Dr Geoffrey Spratt for the annual Information Booklet of 2015-16]