Education in Anglesboro
A massive thank you to Michael Lewis for providing such a detailed and interesting account of Education in Anglesboro. This includes local hedge schools during the 18th century, the first primary school in Anglesboro, the boys and girls schools and their amalgamation, the amalgamation between Barna N.S. and Anglesboro N.S. and the building of the new primary school. A most interesting read!
The British Government set up the national school system in this country by an act of parliament in 1831. However, it was not until 1869 that a national school was established in Anglesboro. Prior to that, according to the local folklorist, William Casey of Barrnagurrahy, the children of this area were educated in the various hedge schools that were in operation in the locality. The term hedge school originated in the 18th century when the Penal Laws did not allow Catholics to teach or to be educated and it was done furtively and in secret under bushes and trees etc in the countryside. With the relaxation of the Penal Laws in the late 1700s and early 1800s the schools moved indoors but they were still termed hedge schools.
A Mr. Reilly had a little thatched house by the side of the road in Ballinamuddy and had a school there for a number of years until it closed in 1871. His pupils – they were known as scholars then – were charged various amounts, 1 shilling, 3 shillings or 4 shillings a year. Each scholar had to bring a sod of turf for the fire. They had no books but they used a slate and an old copybook and sat on planks of timber. Mr. Reilly taught English. He could speak Irish but did not teach it. The older pupils were called ‘wasters’; they had learned everything they could from Mr Reilly and they should be working and not wasting their time in school.
Jack Dwyer taught at Gerah. He had a little thatched house at the side of the road where he lived and taught. The pupils were given an hour off to go home for their dinner. School finished around 4p.m. Jack Dwyer was the great great great grandfather of Hannah Slattery, a pupil of Anglesboro N.S. today.
In 1868 there was a hedge school in Ballyfaskin. It was situated two fields in from the Mitchelstown/Ballylanders road opposite the turn off for Ballylanders. A Reilly man taught there.
There was also a hedge school in High Street. It was a little thatched house situated on the right hand side of the road next to where Jim Doran’s house is today. Mr Brodrick taught there. He didn’t teach Irish as the people didn’t like it. School started about 9 o’clock in the morning. Mr Brodrick was replaced by Pat Fitzgerald. Both of them lodged in the houses of the pupils. William Casey attended that school from 1864 until the opening of Anglesboro N.S.
The First National School
The construction of the first national school in Anglesboro was carried out in the spring of 1869. The mason was from Solohead. The timber and slates came from Joe Duggan’s, which was near Tipperary town. Most of the labouring seems to have been done on a voluntary basis by the local people. It was built were the Community Hall is today but was only about half its size.
Fr. Joseph Ryan P.P. was the guiding light for the project and he became the first manager of the school. He had a penchant for building and advancing the educational needs of the parish. In 1872 he undertook the task of constructing the church in Kilbehenny and then converted the old chapel into the first national school in Kilbehenny.
Anglesboro School cost £164 to build. This was subscribed locally. Farmers paid so much per pound valuation of their property. John Thomas, the 6th Barron Massey, who was the landlord for most of the countryside around Anglesboro, gave £20 to the fund. The landlord in the Barrnagurraghy and High Street areas, John Lowe from Kilfinane, refused to contribute. Fr. Ryan said of him, ‘Lowe he is and low he will remain’.
The school opened on Monday 4th July 1869. As was the custom of the time there were two separate schools within the one building – a boys’ school and a girls’ school. The boys and their two teachers were in one room and the girls and their two teachers were in the other room. One teacher sat at the top of the room with his/her pupils facing the top wall. Meanwhile the other teacher was at the bottom of the room with the pupils facing the back wall. To us nowadays that seems an odd arrangement but that was the way then. The rooms were 20ft by 18ft and 12ft high.
The Boys School
John Fitzgerald, who had been teaching in Tooreneena in Co. Waterford and was originally from Clerihan in Co. Tipperary, was appointed the first principal of the Boys’ School. William Buckley got the job as the assistant teacher. John Fitzgerald taught in Anglesboro until he retired in 1899 with an annual pension of £81. He was succeeded by Patrick Kiely (Senior), who was a native of Ballynaveen, Emly, Co. Tipperary. Shortly afterwards he was joined on the staff by his sister, Annie Kiely. They worked in the same classroom for the next thirty years. Annie later married locally and was known as Mrs Watt Hennessy. When Patrick Kiely retired in 1932 his son, Paddy, (also known as Pakie, but because of his great interest in the Irish language he preferred to be called Pádraig Ó Cadhla), was not qualified to take over the principalship at the time. Tommy Noonan, from Mitchelstown, served in a temporary capacity until Paddy had completed his studies.
The Girls’ School
In 1869, Mrs Fitzgerald was appointed as the principal of the Girls’ School. She was the wife of the above mentioned John Fitzgerald. The records show that she resigned on 30th June 1885 and was given a gratuity of £137. Her replacement was Christine Mary English (nee Sexton). She found that teaching was not suitable for her and retired early. For a number of years around 1900 the school was reduced to one teacher due to lack of numbers on roll. In 1918 the principal was Miss M. Regan. Whether there was anybody in between herself and Christine English is not known. Mrs. Tom O’Donoghue, from Mitchelstown, became principal after Miss Regan. The assistant teachers mentioned up to 1917 are as follows: B. Mahony, May O’ Donnell, Catherin Kelly, Agnes Sexton, Hannah Williams and Lil English. Lil English (later Mrs. Hennessy) was appointed teacher on 1st January 1917 and continued to work until she retired out of the ‘New School’ in the 1965. Up to the late 1980s, the room that she had taught in, was an empty classroom but was still known as ‘Mrs Hennessy’s room’. It was at that time used as a lunch room. Today it forms the lower part of Mr. Kearney’s room.
The Boys and Girls Schools Amalgamate
In the early 1940s the two schools were amalgamated to form one school. The teachers in the Girl’s School resented this at the beginning as they did not like the idea of teaching in a mixed school. Paddy Kiely became principal of the amalgamated school.
Among the teachers who worked in Anglesboro back then was Dónal Ó Keohane (1944 – 1948). Donal was a native of Bantry in Co. Cork and was very interested in poetry and composed the song, ‘The Fife and Drummer’s and Band’. This was sung to the air of ‘MacNamara’s Band’ and celebrated the local band that was a precursor to today’s pipe band. By coincidence, he was the grand uncle of present day staff member, Cáit Hennessy, who hails from the same part of the country.
Anglesboro and Barna Amalgamate
By 1967 the population of Anglesboro School had dropped to 62 pupils and was in danger of becoming a two-teacher school. Meanwhile, Barna was a one-teacher school with only 12 pupils. It was the Department of Education policy at that time to close one-teacher schools and amalgamate them with a bigger local school. An agreement was reached between the various interested parties and Anglesboro and Barna schools were amalgamated on 2nd October 1967.
Bríd Feeney joined Paddy Kiely on the staff of Anglesboro N. S. The 12 pupils from Barna were ‘bussed’ to Anglesboro in cars provided by Barrys’ Garage, Galbally; that was the beginning of over 30 years and three generations of the Barry family providing transport to Anglesboro School in ‘The Barry Bus’. The pupils that enrolled were: John, Margaret, Geraldine and Andrew Kiely: Emma, Rita, Tom and Veronica Childs: Dave and Tom Fitzgerald: John Vallence and Thomas Dineen.
The New School
In the early 1950s the number of pupils on roll in the school demanded the employment of five teachers but there were only two class rooms. In the junior room there were three teachers and their pupils. Liam Allen remembers that Mrs. Watt was at the far end (Church end) of the room and Mrs. Lil Hennessy was mid way at the front wall on the road side but her class did not extend right across the room. The third teacher was at the fire end. The role of third teacher in Liam’s time was filled by Miss Forde and then Miss Murphy. Paddy Kiely and Jerome O’Shea (the famous All Ireland winning Kerry footballer) taught in the other room. Relief from the overcrowding was got in summer when Mrs. Lil Hennessy took her class out of doors on fine days. The school was deemed to be no longer fit for purpose as two rooms were totally inadequate.
It was decided to build a new school on a green site. A local landowner, Jerry O’ Donnell, sold an ideal site that was situated up the ‘Boro’ Road and 200 yards from the village. This was regarded as very generous on his part as it was a valuable piece of land so near his farmyard. As was the rule at the time the parish had to finance the purchase of the site. Pynes of Fermoy were given the contract of constructing the new school. It was built in 1955 and was officially opened in April 1956.
The school was very spacious and bright in comparison to the old school: it had four classrooms with just one teacher in each. This was a huge change. Paddy Kiely told me he found, at first, that, it was very lonely to be the only adult in the room. One of the classrooms could also be used as a cookery room as it was fitted with a solid fuel cooker. There were two cloakrooms and a long corridor running along the entire length of the building: The outdoor facilities were marvellous; there was an extensive concreted play area with a shed to provide shelter on the rainy days: the pitch, for football and rounders etc, was second to none. These amenities were a far cry from what had been available in the old school. However, it was the same as the old school in matters of sanitation and hygiene. Only dry outdoor toilets were provided as there was no running water available at that stage. Rural Electrification didn’t happen in Anglesboro until 1957 so the school was built without installing electricity. It would be another 10 years before a well was bored, an electrical pump put in and modern indoor toilets provided.
Almost 50 years after the building of the new school a reconstruction project was undertaken. During the days of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ the school was lucky to get grant aid to build 2 new classrooms, modify the rest of the building and install a new sewage system. The reconstructed school was officially opened by the minister of education of the day, Mr Batt O’ Keeffe T.D., in 2008. The magnificent sports hall was added in 2011.
Émer O’Keeffe (Casey) joined the staff of Anglesboro School in the summer of 1956 shortly after the opening of the new school. The other staff members at that time were Lil English, Mrs. Ryan and Paddy Kiely (principal).
I began teaching in Anglesboro in July 1970 and was privileged to have Émer O’Keeffe, Maura Treacy and Maureen Hogan as my colleagues during the following 38 years. We were joined at various periods by others – Mary Cronin for 1 year, Mary Buckley for 1 year, Kieran Fitzgibbon for 4 years and Aoife Neville for 1 year. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s the number on roll allowed for the appointment of a fourth teacher. While it lasted that was an ideal situation to be in – two classes for each teacher.
At one stage in the 1980s the teachers thought that the pupils would benefit from some extra tuition in literacy. To help out in this matter the Board of Management decided that it would employ a part time teacher. Unfortunately it proved to be too much of a financial strain and had to be discontinued. Then in the 1990s the Department of Education decided that they would employ learning support teachers to support the schools’ literacy programmes. In the case of Anglesboro School this meant sharing a teacher with other local schools. It was a great success and it has since been developed to cater for a broad spectrum of needs.
In the 1980s the schools were able to employ a secretary and a caretaker under the Fás Social Employment schemes. Anglesboro had Tommy Slattery and Chris Fitzgibbon as caretakers and Betty Flynn and Marie Murphy as secretaries under such arrangements. That all changed in the next decade when the Department of Education grant aided the schools to employ their own ancillary staff. Liz Ryan and Joan O’ Connor joined the Anglesboro School staff as secretary and caretaker, respectively, at that stage.
The year 2009 saw big changes in the teaching staff in Anglesboro School. Maura Treacy and I retired while Maureen Hogan moved from class teacher to learning support. The new members were Anne Lyons (principal), Cáit O’Leary and Róisín Power. At this juncture I will leave it to others to fill you in on the recent happenings. However, I would like to mention that Seán Kearney is only the sixth person, since 1869, to hold the position of principal teacher – that is if we go back through the Boys’ School in earlier times. This surely must be a national record.
Mar focal scoir, ba mhaith liom a rá gur bhaineas taitneamh mór as mo thréimhse i Scoil Ghleann na gCreabhar. Bhí pobal na scoile go deas séimh, cneasta, cineálta i gconaí. Gan dabht bhí suim mhór ag muintir na h-áite sa scoil agus ní raibh leisce othu riamh a bheith páirteach i n-imeachtaí na scoile. Guim gach rath ar fhoireann agus ar pháiste na scoile, atá suite sa ghleann sciamhach ag bun An Teampaillín i gcoim na nGailte.