John McCullagh May 2, 2005
deskandmangle.jpg

 

Fortunately for me, having been taught at home and being already older, I was considered suitable for Senior Infants and after a few weeks with the ‘babies’ I was moved on to Sister Coleman’s. She was a dear and I thrived there. My poor sister Patsy hated school from day one! 

Old school desk on right, with washing board and mangle!

I was not long at school before I realised that not all of my classmates were as fortunate as I. Some children were so poor and neglected that they did not have any underwear. Many had neither socks nor shoes. Many, especially the boys, wore ragged hand-me-downs often with elbows out and no seat in their pants. These children were given a school dinner courtesy of the convent and at weekends the Sisters ran a Saturday kitchen where they issued soup, bread and a piece of meat to poorer families.

 Prior to the 1947 Education Act all school books had to be purchased by the scholars or their parents and many families could not afford them. Such children would be loaned books in a class on a share-between-two basis. These same children could not undertake homework, being unable to afford exercise books or writing materials, so of necessity their education was very restricted.

Writing was an art form in Primary School and the local Education Authority ran writing competitions. As the biro was yet to be invented and fountain pens were much too expensive for classroom use, we completed our bookwork using a nib mounted on a fine rod – somewhat like the shaft of an artist’s brush.

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