One of the country’s oldest schools has decided to stop charging fees and to enter the public free education system from September.
Kilkenny College, which was founded almost 500 years ago, attributed its decision to the impact of falling incomes and rising taxes on families.
The Church of Ireland second level school caters for 780 students, both boarders and day pupils.
In a statement posted on its website, the college said although fees had been maintained at 2008 levels, it was becoming increasingly difficult for families to send their children to the only Church of Ireland secondary school in Kilkenny and the South-East.
It said changes to how Protestant fee-charging schools were funded, introduced in 2008, had led to a withdrawal of support and building grants and an ever-reducing allocation of teachers.
The decision to stop charging fees was taken following what the statement called lengthy talks with the Department of Education. The school will continue to charge students who board.