1704 was the year for the earliest recorded school in Malahide. In 1831 the parish priest, Father Carey of Swords established a school in a derelict mill building at Barrack Bridge, Yellow Walls but it closed in 1841. He then started a school behind St. Sylvester's Church in 1846. The schoolroom measured 37 feet by 19 feet, had an earthen floor and a large open fire for heating. The fuel was purchased by each pupil contributing 2c per week. Water was obtained from the nearby St. Sylvester's Well until a piped water supply became available in 1900. In the early days most of the children walked barefoot to school. There were few desks or seats and the average attendance of 60 boys and 73 girls stood in various parts of the room for their lessons. Obviously, the teacher could not manage all the pupils on his own so the brightest and older pupils were appointed monitors to teach the younger children. James Vickers was appointed teacher in 1855 and he also ran a night school for men. However, he left and went to teach on Lambay Island a few years later. There was a high turnover of teachers at first with at least sixteen in the 44 years up to 1890, seven of whom were dismissed or resigned.
Malahide Girls School was opened in 1863 and the first School Manager was the Parish Priest of Swords as Malahide was within his remit. It was located at the corner of Yellow Walls Road.
Yellow Walls obtained its title from the yellow stains left by vegetable dyes when woollen, linen and silk were dyed with indigenous plants by the craft dyers of Malahide and placed to dry in the sun on the boundary walls.
The Principal's house was adjacent to the school. A feature of this school was a tiered gallery the steps formed seating. The centre of the classroom was furnished with desks, usually long, stretching across the breadth of the room. The school consisted of one room shared by two teachers. The children moved from gallery to desks, to do oral or written work, alternatively.
The girls' school had classes 11 to 1V and very often girls stayed until 14 years of age, two years after Primary Cert. Then they went to Marino Technical College for the Group Certificate or a Secretarial Course. When school transport started the girls went to Swords Technical College. Later the Convent opened and Scoil Iosa provided a facility for Intermediate and Leaving Certificate.
Malahide Infants and Malahide Girls were always separate but were housed under one roof. In 1956 the Infant School had a new school built on the same play ground as the old school. The name was changed to St. Sylvester's Infant School. After 1st class the boys in the Infant School went to the Boys' School in the parochial hall which later moved to the Grove Road.
The old building was eventually converted into a three roomed building bright, comfortable with electric light and water laid on for washing, drinking and hygienic facilities. Then the numbers increased and three pre-fabs were provided. Malahide Girls School was re-named St. Sylvester's Girls N.S. in 1959 after the church. The Church took its name from St. Sylvester's Well. The Sylvester connected with the Well is most likely to have been a Sylvester associated with St. Patrick. Sylvester later settled in Ark low and is buried there. There is evidence to suggest that St. Patrick visited Malahide and so his associate, Sylvester, would be remembered here.
In 1976, the school became co-educational. By 1978, due to increased numbers, classes were also based in the Parochial Hall and the old Boys N.S. at Grove Road.
Four classes moved to the new building in Inbhir Ide in 1979 and the whole school transferred there in September 1980. It was renamed Pope John Paul 11 by the very Rev. Macartan Brady p.p. the Pope having visited Ireland in September 1979.
In 2004 a new extension was built. This consists of a new entrance, 6 new classrooms, a learning support room, 2 administration rooms & staffroom.