Schooldays and more
I first attended school in the national school in Greenore. The building has since being used as a bar known as The BROADWAY BAR. The end of the building under the school bell was used as the village library and had the books changed each month by the Louth County Council Library Service . My earliest recollection of school was trying to write 1935 in my copy book. I was 6 years old at the time.
The school was just one big room, a very high ceiling a fire place at one end and the teachers desk beside the fire, with the pupils desks set out in rows like the pews in the chapel. A row of small desks for the infants and separate row then for each class right up to 6th.Average 7 or 8 pupils to each class. Wewere all taught by the one teacher aMiss Fitch. I think she lived inCarlingford. She came to school in an old Austin 7 car which we had to push after school to get it started. I remember it had celluloid windows in the side and Domnic Carron picking at a small hole and making it bigger and Miss Fitch giving him a good clatter on the jaw for his trouble, he would have though it was no harm. He was about 6yrs. Old at the time. I think she left when I got to 1st. Class.
The practice of the day was when the teacher who was a protestant, gave religious instruction all the Roman Catholic children had to go out and play for half an hour which we thought was great. However when Miss Fitch left and Miss O’Hare in later years took over took as she was Roman Catholic, the situation changed and all the Protestant children went out to play while we had to learn our catechism. We took all this in our stride as we were all railway families and a close community and it only seemed natural to us. The railway company built and owned the school and maintained it as they owned all the houses and only railway workers lived in the village.
Miss Fitch was astrict disciplinarian. Some woman who lived opposite the golf links complained to Miss Fitch that while playing cowboys and Indians in the bushes opposite Anglesea Terrace there was a fight and that I was the ring leader. It seems we had captured a boy and were tying him to the railings. She took me to the up to the front of the class and told me what she had heard and that I was getting the stick. I was never asked did I do it. The stick was the handle of a wooden handled golf club with the iron head broken off. I got 3 wallops on each hand. My hands were red and swollen for a few days but I never told my mother as I was afraid she would give me more punishment for being bold at school. I was also not allowed out at 3o’clock with the other infants but made stay in school until the bigger ones got out. I though that this was the worst part of my punishment.
One day she was teaching some general knowledge. She asked who walks with you in the moonlight. The answer she was looking for was yourshadow. On asking Paddy Carroll (a brother of Jimmy of golf fame) Paddy piped up, Please Miss Walty Brown. Miss Fitch was doing a line with a local farmer of that name. WellPaddy was in trouble. She took Paddy by the ear up in front of the desks and went for the stick. On attempting to give Paddy a wallop of the stick on his rear end he lay down on the floor. When she attempted to land a wallop Paddy would move around on his back on the floor, kick his big boots in the air and move around on the floor as she circled attempting to land a wallop. She eventually gave upand things returned to normal.
I remember each morning in infants that the teacher would tell us to put our heads down and have a sleep for about half an hour while she went through all the classes one at a time giving each class a lesson to learn which she would check later. We had plastercine to play and make shapes with also a copy book and pencil to draw with and try to write
The method of teaching all class by one teacher was, she would teach the first class a lesson, get them to study it while she did the same with other classes and then come back and see if you had learned anything. In first class we were introduced to the pen and ink All the desks had an ink well which was filled with ink each day by the teacher from a large bottle for each pupil. The pen consisted of a wooden handle with a steel nib with a split in the middle at the end, this allowed the nib to be softer when in contact with the paper. The pen had to be held at an angle to allow a proper flow of ink to the paper. You used light pressure on the upward stroke an more pressure on the downward stroke to produce nice writing. If you put too much ink on your pen or held the pen too upright you would get a blob of ink on the paper. You had blotting paper which when pressed on top of the blob would dry it up right away . You also used the blotting paper on what you had written before you turned the page so it would not smudge should the ink be not properly dry. You also had spare nibs for your pen as they would occasionally break. You could probably write a line on the one dip of ink. There were fountain pens available and expensive, which had a rubber tube in the handle which could hold a lot of ink and last a long time but we were not allowed to use them . I think they were allowed in secondary schools and were used in the offices of the railway company.
At lunch time we were sent out to play in the school yard which extended all around the school, girls on the left hand side and boys on the right. There was a high wall at the back of the school which divided the playground and on each side of the wall there was a separate dry toilet one for boys and one for girls. There was quite an odouron a hot day. It was cleaned out occasionally by a man with a horse and cart. The surface of the playground was just earth and gravel, a little wild grass on the girls side. We played football there with a ball the size of a tennis ball. The girls usually played hop scotch and skipping, they nearly had their own skipping ropes.
Miss O’Hare took over when Miss Fitch left, and lived opposite the school in Euston St. It was her first job andremained there until the school closed down in 1968 when she then gottransferred to the Boher National Schoolto take up the position of Vice Principal where she remained until sheretired. Somewhere along the way she got married and became Mrs McCumisky. She told me that (when she was 90 years old ) that I was the first pupil she met on her first day teaching. I was standing at the door said good morning Miss O’Hare and opened the door for her with the big key. Shetold me that made her day. My motherwould always have us out early.
Miss O’Hare had a different style to teaching, more of the carrot than the stick. Irish was only treated asa subject. We were taught throughEnglish.
If were learning say spelling or mental arithmetic etc. Miss O,Hare would take us out and line us up ask each one a question, if you got the answer right you got a bulls eye sweet for every one you got right from a gallon tin of sweets she had. Maybe not much today but during the war they were scarce. When the sweets came into the shop a weeks supply would be sold out in a couple of hours, so a couple of sweets were a treat. Probably the most valuable thing I learned at school was the tables which I still can use to this day and used daily in my work as a cabinetmaker and joiner. Mental arithmetic was very important as there was no cash registers to add up your purchases in shops and you had to rely on the man behind the counter not to make a mistake. A few of the big shops had mechanical cash registers but could not work out the change so mistakes could be made. There were no pocket calculators and only came in not long before I retired in 1995. I never used them at work but would do so now as I am 16 years retired.
I remember on a history lesson Miss O’Hare standing in our usual line up asked Pat O’Hanlon how did Red Hugh O’Donnell march his army so fast from Donegal to the south The answer was I think over mountains, a forced march and not much rest. Pat did not answer but in response to a quiet prompt from his good friend Jim Kearney Pat replied, please miss on bicycles.
My class sat the first primary exam the first time it was used in Ireland. We all passed. There was an odd visit from the schools inspector and the local priest. They never bothered us.
I used to go to England every year to visit my grandma and uncle who lived in Yorkshire at a place called Stanley between Wakefield and Leeds. In 1939 my grandma came to visit us in Greenore and agreed with my mother that she would take me back to England to educate me as there were no prospect of further education around Dundalk outside Dublin. My granddad came over to Greenore some time later to take me back with him although the 2nd. World had just started. The propaganda of the time was that it would be settled in a couple of months. We sailed from Greenore to Holyhead on the railway owned ship the Slieve Bloom. Although used to carry loose cargo and a certain amount of cattle, it could take a few passengers 6 or 8. in the cabin , which the drovers had, who looked after the cattle on the voyage over to Holyhead. It was a very stormy night and I remember going to the toilet on my hands and knees and the suit cases sliding up and down the floor of the cabin. My grandad just wedged himself into a corner seat and read the paper. A few cattle were drowned on board that night owing to the high seas, the drovers had a busy night.
On arrival at Holyhead we went up the gangway on to the pier. The cargo area where we landed was the same layout as at Greenore. The pier about 9ft. Wide enough and to walk down. The goods shed was immediately behind the narrow pier with large sliding doors and a small piped steam powered crane for unloading the loose cargo. This was put into slings as at home. These sheds allowed the cargo to be loadedunder cover. We then walked to the passenger station got the Holyhead to London Irish Mail train with an enormous steam engine. We changed trains at Chester and got a train to Leeds where we were met by my uncle and taken in his car to Grandmas
I started to attend the local national school on Canal Lane. A fairly large school in a rural setting about half a mile from my grandmas. There were about 25 pupils in the class. We had the one teacher a Mr. Cuniff who taught all our subjects in the one class room. Each year or class had its own teacher in a separate room so you always went to the one room. There was a large assembly hall in the centre of the building and all the other classrooms were around the sides.
In class the day started with roll call ,we then all recited the Lords Prayer and a story from the bible was read by a student, each student taking it in turns on successive days to do a reading so everyone got a chance to do a reading and then down to lessons. Much the same lessons as at home except we learned art and painting with water colours. We also had a sports half day consisting of exercise in the assembly hall. Such as vaulting over a wooden horse and leap frog etc. Thegirls got specially togged out for this. Also in the playground playing cricket. As it was war time there was an air raid shelter beside the school and occasionally there was air raid drill. The air raid siren would sound and we would have to march into the shelter in an orderly fashion. We would sit on the long benches until the all clear sounded and then back to class. There were a couple of Irish children in my class called Sweeney. One day at P. T. the master told me I was not standing in a straight line and told me to come to see him in the office after school. On getting there he took out a cane and gave me a couple of whacks on each hand, pretty sore. I thought the punishment was a bit over the top, obviously he was in bad humour. My only time to getpunishment there.
I had a gas mask in case of a poison gas attack and you always had to have it with you at all times or you could be fined. The A.R. P. ( air raid precaution) patrolled the streets especially at night to see that the black out was being observed as you could not show any light through curtains or doors as it may be seen by German planes and could invite a bomb. Motor cars also had to cover their head lights and only allowed to have a few slits cut to barely see the road. The A. R. P. were volunteers, consisting of men too old or men medically unfit for the army. They wore a blue uniform.
The government gave an Anderson air raid shelter, one between every two houses. The householders had toassemble them themselves. I remember helping to dig the hole to put it in. One night the air raid siren went off at 11o’clock at night. We all had to get up and go to sit in the shelter until the air raid was over. The all clear went about 2am. I could hear the thumps of either guns or bombs in the distance. I was not sent to school until 11o’clock the next day. The master was very displeased at my late arrival and told me to be on time in future, how could we win the war if we stayed in bed every time there was an air raid.
The war in France was not going well so my grandma thought I would be safer at home. My uncle who lived with us got his call up papers to report immediately to the army and had to close his business and go right away. He said there was a danger of the Germans invadingEngland This left me and grandma alone as grandad had previously died. There were no telephones in Greenore,only one in the Post Office. It wouldtake a week to send a letter home and get one back and by the time it wouldtake for someone to come and take me home it could be too late. It was the time of the British army evacuating Dunkirk in France. I said I could go home myself as I knew the way as I came over every year even though I was only 11. Mygrandma. a lady with a good can doattitude took me to Leeds railway station and put me on the train for Chester. There I changed trains and got on the London to Holyhead express which stopped right beside the mail boat for Dun Laoghaire. It was just across the platform from the train. I remember on the train there were a lot of soldiers some lying on the floor and looking they had a hard time. They had escaped from Dunkirk and were being dispersed all over England to rest and be re equipped.
On crossing the Irish sea, a nice sunny day the sailor inthe crows nest on the mast of the ship spotted a floating mine that would sinka ship if it struck it All ships had a crows nest during the war consisting ofwhat resembled a 40 gallon drum fixed high up on the mast and a sailor climbedinto and kept a look out with a pair of binoculars for any enemy ships orfloating mines. There as a fairly big gun on board and a couple of royal navysailors as there was on all British merchant ships during the war. The shipstopped to allow the sailors to try and shoot it. However the sailors were notgood shots and did not hit it after a few goes. The sailors got a bit of arazz from the deck passengers and the ship moved on again as it was dangerous to stop as it made an easier target for a German submarine should there be one around. We arrived safely in Dun Laoighaire and I got on the train for Dublin which was just beside the ship. The train only went as far as Westland Row station and I discovered I would have to get another train to Amiens St. Station. I discovered I would have to get another ticket but on inquiry told it was not far to walk so on being told a few directions I set off with my suit case on my shoulder. Although there were no street names as all place names signs were taken down during the war so as not to help an invader, I got there with no problem. I got the train for Dundalk as I had often done before with my mother and one more change of trains at Dundalk and on to the train for Greenore and home and back to school with Miss O’Hare in Greenore.
Around 1943 there was a scholarship offered by Louth County Council of a fortnight in the Gaeltacht to learn Irish in Ranafast. I applied and had to go to the old Grange school house on my bicycle beside the railway bridge at Rogan’s Cross. I had to go upstairs where a Mr. Dennedy asked me a few questions in Irish and I was accepted. I left on the Greenore train with another boy a Liam Kearney from around Whitestown. At Dundalk station we got on the Bundoran Express or the Irish North as some people called it which travelled up through County Monaghan and got off at Letterkenny. There we got on the narrow gauge Donegal Railway train which took us to Crolly. The train was very small compared with the ordinary train we were used to. There we were put on a bus and taken to Ranafast. Mr Dennedy was in charge of us but we did not see much of him as he had his girl friend with him who later became his wife. On arrival we were sent our lodgings about a mile outside Ranafast and we had to attend a small college called St. Patricks. We attended class there every day for about two hours to learn Irish. Most of the pupils werefrom Belfast and Northern Ireland. Our teacher was also from Belfast, a humours man and good fun a good teacher but not adverse to using the odd focal of berla if he got stuck.
We had about 6 o 7 boys in our digs which were quite good We were well fed. Acouple of times we had goat meat for dinner. It was nice to eat and tasted a bit like mutton. There was also a boy with us from Newry called Phelim McGuinness and a nephew of Frank Aiken. The fire place in the house was a big open stone hearth and burned only turf with a couple of hooks hanging down out of the chimney to hang pots and a big kettle on. The fire was set in such a way that the kettle was boiling in the mornings. Water had all to be carried in from a nearby well, no electricity in these times, everyone was the same except for people who lived in the towns. The house was in the middle of turf bogs. All the locals cut their own turf. I remember the local shop had a good supply of American chesterfield cigarettes although I was never overly fond of smoking myself, as the American soldiers were stationed across the border in Derry and seemed to be short of nothing. I remember one young man who lived nearby, about 20 years old who went around in his bare feet all day and only wore shoes on Sundays. Hard times during the war.
In the evenings we would walk into Ranafast to the college where there was a Ceilidhe where we were learned to do Irish dancing. Some nights there was a concert with some students participating. When the time came to go home I was sorry leaving. I never heard of any one being sent home for talking berla.
Some time when I was around 12 years old we moved to a bungalow my father had in Bellurgan for about 3 months. It was beside where the furniture factory now stands I never inquired why they moved as we still had the house in Greenore. I was sent to Bellurgan N.S. opposite the old church in the building at present occupied by the Credit Union and had to walk the mile or so to school every day. School was much the same asin Greenore, just a Mrs. Reid from Bellurgan Point who taught all subjects and was not too hard on the pupils. I don’t remember her using the stick. She had some of her own family there and one son later became a priest.
On a wet day you just hung your coat in the cloak room and hoped it would be dry The fire was just turf and sticks and smoked a lot the turf was usually wet, no coal. Greenore was lucky as the railway company had coal for the railway engines and supplied the coal to the school in Greenore. The coal was scarce owing to the war and not easy to buy. It was quite common for a cloud of smoke to be about 6ft. over head for most of the day. We had to take it in turns to go across the road to the shed beside the chapel to get the turf for the fire which was used for a store. On a cold day we used to look forward to lunch time to get a run around the school yard to get warm. We had no electric light but we always seemed to be there in day light. So once again I returned toschool in Greenore.
On leaving school I was sent to the Christian Brothers in Dundalk. They learned everything through Irish even English, it was not for me. I got my mother to take me away and send me to the technical school in Chapel Street in Dundalk, a very good school and after a year there I got a job and off to serve my apprenticeship in Castleblayney with a company who manufacturedfurniture called McElroy Bros.
While I wasattending the Tech in Dundalk at the time, the German planes bombed Belfast and a German plane dropped a bomb on Dundalk. It landed beside thedocks and Quay St. Station and blew a large hole beside therailway line. Fortunately it did not do any damage as it landed where the port dumped all the mud they dredged from the dock. However it left a largehole which filled with water like a small lake. The railway company put on a road bus for a few days from Greenore to Dundalk until they checked for damage to the line. I remember the noise of the planes going over Greenore at the time on their way to bomb Belfast. The port in Greenore was working at the time and someone said put out all the lights. However Mr. Davis the boss at the time said no leave them on. It was the right decision as there was a black out in Northern Ireland and might have confused the German pilots. As southern Irelandwas all lit up. I have no regrets about my school days and compared to today we could always entertain ourselves no obese school boys, we were always active and fit never bored.
. Eric Hynes dated: 11/1/11
over a year agoby Michael Desmond Hynes
Schooldays and more
I first attended school in the national school in Greenore. The building has since being used as a bar known as The BROADWAY BAR. The end of the building under the school bell was used as the vill
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