John McCullagh May 2, 2005
1947OurLadiesGroup.jpg

 

When the ordeal of The Qualifying exam had to be faced, it was not for us the familiar surroundings of our own classroom with our own teacher. That was 1949 and we had to travel over to the new Christian Brothers Primary School, a good mile away. The irony was that we still had boys from our side of town attending St Joseph‘s. Later they would transfer to classes in the Abbey Primary.

1947 Our Ladies group

The Test lasted most of the day with short ‘comfort’ breaks in between. We got a half an hour for lunch. Having tried our best, we left and promptly forgot all about it until the results arrived. These initially came to the school principal and later by post to the homes. If you knew the postman, and he knew you, you might intercept him to get an early peek at the vital letter. You wouldn’t bother reading past , ‘We are pleased to inform..’ ; that is, if you had passed!!

A few weeks later an official letter would come from the school, setting out the terms of your scholarship. At this point the primary scholl allowed the successful candidates to take the rest of the day off, to spread the good news and to shop for the required clothing items.

My aunts were delighted for me and letters were sent to those ones in England; in time, welcome postal orders arrived. I expect my parents were pleased though they never did say so. That summer was taken up with visits to the dressmakers for the school uniform fittings. 

 The gym slip was specific to the grammar school I had chosen. It had a dropped waist, eight box pleats, six pink ticks on the bodice and a row of nine pearl buttons set in groups of three. The ehmline was four inches below the knee with a three inch hem to allow for growth. In addition three blouses had to be provided, a blazer, cardigans etc. Trips to Dundalk were arranged for a new schoolbag, shoes and a burburry (this latter was practically ankle-length – ‘She’ll grow into it!’ they said, but I never did.)

We had to wear long black stockings and the local lads christened us,

 Liquorice Legs.

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