School 1 (Cahersiveen NS Folklore Project)

Q: What age were you when you first started school?

Well, I was 5 years old starting the Country School. Once I finished 1st class after doing small infants and big infants, I was moved to the town’s primary school, as I got expelled in the country school.  

 

Q: How did you get expelled?

 My brother and I were always getting into trouble, so they just decided to expel us.

 

Q: Is the country school still open?

No, it closed around the year 1972, I think. All the pupils then transferred to other schools in the area.

 

Q: How many started and finished primary school with you?

8 children started with me and 8 children finished with me also.

 

Q: Was it hard to fit in to the town school after making friends in the country school?

Yes, it was very difficult; it took a while to fit in with the town children.

 

Q: What decade did you go to Primary school in?

I don’t want to be giving too much information but it was in the 1950s.

 

Q: How many pupils were in your class?

In primary level there were 28 and in Secondary level 32.

 

Q: How many classes were in your classroom?

In primary school there were 2 classes in each room.

 

Q: What was your favourite subject?

English was my strongest subject. I loved reading, even though we didn’t have too many books. 

 

Q: What other Subjects were there?

Well, when I was in the country school there was English, Irish, Sums and Geography. But when I went to the town school it was the same, but with History and Religion too.

 

Q: Did you get homework?

Yes, a decent amount in both the country school and the town school. 

We used ask a neighbour to do it for us. This neighbour is still alive at 80 years of age and is a very close friend of mine.

 

Q: Did you bring a school bag?

Yes, I had a bag alright. In it I had schoolbooks, books and a pencil case.

 

Q: What was in your pencil case?

Well, there was a topper, a rubber and a fountain pen. There was no such thing as markers or crayons back then.

 

Q: When did you make your First HolyCommunion?

I was in 1st Class and I was 6 years of age.

 

Q: When did you make your Confirmation?

I was in 5th class.

.. I repeated 5th class three times.

 

Q: Why did you repeat 5th class three times?

We did not want to go to Secondary school, because they gave too much homework. So we played dumb!

 

Q: Did you have to repeat your Confirmation 3 times?

No, just the once!

 

Q: Did you wear a uniform? 

No, to the country infant school I wore a short pants and shirt. To the town national school I wore a coat and pants.

 

Q: What did you wear on your feet?

To infant school, I walked in my bare feet and to the town school; I cycled in boots and socks.

 

Q: Did you wear something different every day?

No. We wore the same thing every day. At that time however, we didn’t even wear vests and underwear. We couldn’t afford them.

 

Q: Did you attend a mixed primary school?

Yes, however the boys sat with the boys and the girls sat with the girls.

 

Q: What time did your school start at?

School started at 9:30am and finished at around 3:30pm, but if we had been bold that day they would keep us until 5:00pm that evening. For the last hour we had to turn in and face the wall.

 

Q: Did you have a break and lunch time?

Yes, at break time we used have a 10minute break from 10:50 – 11:00 and Lunch from 1:00 – 1:45.

 

Q: Did you have a chance to eat at both breaks?

No, just lunch not break. Break was a time to get air and play on the grass for 10 minutes.

 

Q: Did boys and girls play with each other at break and lunch time?   

No, we didn’t play together. It was not allowed. If boys and girls were seen playing together, they would be punished.

 

Q: What games did you play at lunch and break time?

We played Marbles, Hide and Go Seek and Catch.

 

Q: Did you bring in your own games or did they belong to the school?

No, we brought the marbles in ourselves and kept what we won. You might walk into school with 6 marbles and walk back home with twice as many or even none. At that time you would get 6 marbles for a penny.

 

Q: How did you get to School?

Well, I walked a 2-mile walk, (bare foot) to the country school, and to the town Primary School, I cycled 3 miles on my little red bike!

 

Q: How long did it take to walk and cycle?

Well, it took me 20 minutes to walk to infant school and the same for cycling to the town national school.

 

Q: Did you bring your own lunch?

Yes, we brought our own bread and butter. The school would have Cocoa made for us.

 

Q: Who made the Cocoa for you?

The pupils of the older classes usually “Did the Honours”

 

Q: Where did you get the boiling water?

The Kettle was boiled on the fire.

 

Q: What punishments were given when you misbehaved?

You were to look at the wall for 30 minutes and if you turned around you were given a slap.

 

Q: Were there different punishments for different behaviours?

Well, if you were really bad you would have to stand on the table for 30 minutes and get 20 slaps. However, when I told them, my parents would usually get a fit of laughing and say it was well coming to us. No such thing as sympathy!

We were slapped with a long stick. Every time she needed one, the teacher used walk out to the ditch beside the school gate and cut off a branch to use.

 

Q: Can you think of any stories or incidents that happened in your primary school?

Well, every evening when the teacher was about to go home, she used lock up the school with a 4 inch key. Once she was gone, we used run up to the school door and fill the keyhole with small little pebbles. Because of this she wouldn’t be able to open the school the next morning, and then we would run off! This is one of the many reasons I got expelled in the first school.

 

Q: Did this happen a lot?

Yes, very often as far I can remember.

We used doss a lot. We called it ‘mooching!’ We used hide behind ditches where we could keep an eye on the teachers.

 

Q: Did ye ever get caught?

Yes, a lot of the time, but not all the time.

 

Q: What punishment did ye get from the teacher when ye got caught?

We were killed. A lot of slaps! Much more than 20!

 

Q: What Punishment did ye get when your parents found out?

 My parents slapped me too, so I got it “on the double.”

 

Q: How many days in a typical school week?

There were 5, but my brothers and I went mooching for two of those days.

Q: What was a typical school day like?

Worse than a jail sentence! The children of today don’t know how lucky they are!!

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