School Days, — May 29, 2010 15:10 — 0 Comments

Carstands Reminiscences

In the first year of the magnificent new Abbey Grammar School it is fitting to recall the opening of the original Christian Brothers Carstands School, in the words of a pupil there over one hundred years ago!

‘This year a magnificent new school has been opened in Newry, so big indeed that one of its alumni informed me that ‘you could mitch in it’!


Who however, would want to play truant from an academy that actually has instillation for radio and cinema, as well as a virtual stadium for outdoor sports? The real trouble will be to keep adults out of it! Brother Dempsey taught under vastly different conditions and was confronted with many problems, yours truly being one of them!


He introduced me to Algebra (NOT the daughter of Euclid, as some claim!)


We worked on slates, getting a chalk tick on the wooded frame for each sum correctly completed. Our method of preparing the slate for the next exercise was neither elegant nor hygienic! Enough said.


A pupil in the Red Brick School (1899-1906) was quoted as saying that ‘the chief world events then were the Boer War and the Newry and Tynan Railway.


One stopped and the other never began!’


We had no separate classrooms, dual desks, ultra-violet rays, steam-heating, electric lighting or air-conditioning or other modern conveniences in that old school – nor was there a specialist to teach us each subject. Our playground was usually the street.


The school fees, ranging from twopence to sixpence a week, were collected in a chalk box. This meagre sum (supplemented by results-fees, and the proceeds of a concert and an annual sermon) was all the Brothers had to depend on for an existence.  All honour to these devoted men for gave us such an education for practically nothing. 


… more later …


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