School Days

Glenshesk: Well, the school was a small school in Glenshesk, only one room divided, and the teachers in it were a husband and wife, Principal and Vice-Principal. She taught the junior infants and he taught the seniors up to Standard Six or Seven. In those days you left at fourteen. There were roughly thirty-two in the school. In Glenshesk, roughly twenty families attended the school, made up of the children of farmers and farm workers. There’s a lot of houses have went out of existence and families have disappeared. When she started school, one of my girls only went to it two days and it was closed. It would have been in the 60’s. They were taken by bus to Ballycastle to Primary Schools there and to the Convent.
I got on well in school; I don’t think I ever got a thumping. I done all right. In my class in school there were only three boys and the other two are priests. We would have went home for our lunch at lunchtime; we wouldn’t have been living half a mile away from the school. I would rather have stayed and played football instead of going home for dinner, but anyway lunch was made for the farm workers and the farmers at one o’clock. (P J McBride)


It was a two-teacher school, Ballyucan school. I think I went about four, and I know my younger brother went with me and he was too young to go on the rolls. There was always a struggle to keep numbers up because there was two teachers in school. They were always in danger of losing their second teacher.
I had an uncle, an unmarried uncle, lived with us in Murlough, Joe, and Joe said to me, when I was going out the second morning to school, to tell Miss McNulty he was asking for her. So I went in the door – the school was all one room – and I stood inside and said at the top of my voice "Miss McNulty, my Uncle Joe said to tell you he was asking for you". I had no idea what the message meant.
There were about thirty-odd pupils in the school and poor Miss McNulty went scarlet and she said, “Tell your uncle Joe to deliver his own messages.” The whole school went into uproar laughing. Oh, she got married and left the school and moved somewhere else and married somebody else. He never married. He stayed about.
In my mother-in-law’s time, there was a Miss McDonnell and she would visit the school periodically and they would have to sing for her and, you know, perform for her. She would be on a visitation. So I think the landlords must have built the school, though of course it belonged to the Church whenever I was there. She always talked about Miss McDonnell, this Miss McDonnell who would come to the school occasionally on a visitation and they all had to be on their best behaviour with their hair combed and ribbons in their hair and what not. (Frances Duncan)

I remember was when I was about three years of age and old aunt that I was reared with bought a melodeon. Now a melodeon was the same as the button keyed accordion but there were an older version and the reeds were all down the outside of them. I wasn’t able to say my words very well but I learnt to play this melodeon.
I was about five and a half years of age and I remember the first day I went to Aughagash School. When I went into the school room the first thing I was handed was a slate. In them days in wasn’t pencils or crayons, it was a slate and a chalk and the first day the teacher just came round to see that you were keeping the chalk inside the frame.
Then we went on to the paper work. I remember I was mates with this brother of my wife Agnes. We went to school together and the inspector was coming to inspect classes in school and the teacher sent a wee note home to my mother to see if I would bring the melodeon to school and play to the inspector. So it took me and Dan, the two of us, to carry the melodeon to school. So we carried it to school and I played the melodeon to the inspector at school. That’s the first memory I would have you know of life really.

You had a milk break, but you didn’t have a snack for your milk break. You had this roasting hot milk in the winter-time that you were trying to drink, with a straw and it would have burnt the mouth off you, you know. It was warmed in front of the fire. And in the summer it was warm anyway.
I remember one day being absolutely mortified. I must only have been P4 and there was this more senior girl. And her and the teacher had a bit of a run-in and the teacher said to her; “Go and sit down, you’re getting too big for your boots”. She was just about abreast with me at my desk on her way back to her own desk at the back of the classroom and she said, I think she sort of turned round and muttered; “Or else they’re getting too small for me.”
I remember the library books. They used to come in strange boxes with locks on them. And they sat down at the back and the dust must have gathered or something on one of them and somebody wrote, I can’t remember whether it was ‘Kieran’ or ‘Michael’ but it was one of those name that you easily spell the wrong way. There was a huge investigation into who had written this on the dust on the library box. And the culprit was found because everybody had to come and spell the name, you know. (Agnes Duncan)


I can remember us looking over old records and one of the first pupils enrolled in our school would have been Charlie McAuley, who had the bar, The Bridge Inn, Carnlough. His grandfather was one of the first pupils. It must have been a mixed school when it was first started because he would have been a Roman Catholic and he was one of the first pupils enrolled in it. (Anna May Wharry)
First Communion

I remember First Communion; we were taken into the Parochial House for our breakfast or maybe it was just tea. You went in there and you walked home again. You had a veil and white dress for Confirmation, but they have the reverse now. They have it for the First Communion. (Margaret O’Boyle)
School Plays

Miss Wilde in Knocknacarry had this connection with Glasgow and perhaps with a theatrical agent to provide the costumes. I know I would have been in plays when I was under eleven. It was a great advantage because convent schools had always plays and I remember one of the first years we had Alice in Wonderland and you know you automatically had a part in the play. (Mary Delargy)

I loved school and couldn’t wait to get to it. I got twenty out of twenty every morning for my spellings and my reading. So that went on for a week or two and I was all delighted with it and then they got me a jotter and a pencil to write. I was left-handed. So the thumping started. Aye. She went up to the Head Teacher and brought her down and she hit me over the knuckles. She was very, very strict and then I took wild sore heads and stuff, you know, but anyway I didn’t care if I went to school again after that. She made me write with my right hand. I used this left hand when I was cooking or anything, but this one I had to use it, for she beat me that much I had to learn to write with the right hand. Just said it was wrong. (Margaret McGowan)
School was a place for nicknames … Missioners, priests in Ballycastle, they said that the name a person was given in baptism, that’s the name you are to call them, none of these nicknames at all. (George McCullagh)
I always felt terrible sorry for a child who couldn’t learn, you know, who really was not bright. They got a hard time. There were families, who I think the teacher was inclined to pick on, who were a bit dumb, you know, and I think that’s terrible because all children aren’t bright and I think they have to be treated in different ways. It was just this business you got ten spellings to learn at night and if you had so many of them wrong you got caned and maybe that child had learned, had tried, and I think that is terrible and it made children just hate the thought of going to school. (Anna May Wharry)
School Attendance

I would have been about fifteen or sixteen years when I left. You were only supposed to go until fourteen. Some people never went to school at all. They mitched, they stayed outside, they didn’t go to school at all. There was four or five of them in this Glen. They’re dead now but they could neither write nor read because they never went to school. (James McHenry)
My mother was called up herself, over school attendance, because two of us didn’t go to school. Whenever the postman came with the summons she was in the hospital and the nurse met him and told him to take the summons with him because this woman was lying on her death bed. Never heard a word about it. Ones were banged into the workhouse too. (George McCullagh)
Somebody told me that in those days after the crop was put in, the sons of the farmers came back to school for the rest of the year until I suppose the spring time came and then they took off to put in the crop or gather potatoes or tie corn or whatever was going at that time. (Francis McCaughan)
Leaving The Primary School

Well, I left school at fourteen and I farmed and ploughed with a pair of horses. That was the first job I got when I left school. There was only my father and another brother and myself. He was younger than me. Well my father died in 1962, the other brother got one farm and I got the home farm. and in ’91 he was feeding sheep with a tractor, the ould tractor overturned and killed him. (PJ McBride)

When I was fourteen I left to work in the teahouse. Indeed it wasn’t a lot, just a whean of shillings. (Sarah Gribben)
Second Level Education

We did Scholarships then. I got a Scholarship to a Grammar School. There was three, the Education Board gave three Scholarships, I think, every year for somebody like to go to Grammar School and I got a Scholarship and I think I was quite delighted about that.
You felt countrified, I think. Well, there was quite a number of country children maybe there, and you were inclined to gravitate towards them. You know we did lack in confidence. I think probably the biggest difference I found was that when I was in Carnlough School I was nearly always top of my class. I didn’t find anything a problem, whereas when I went to the Grammar School there was people far smarter than you. I think that was the biggest difference you find. (Anna May Wharry)
I was at Cross and Passion and, you know, I went home one Sunday in the month. And my mother came to see me on a Saturday evening and brought me sweets and oranges.
I think you quite liked wearing a uniform because it made you the same as other people. You didn’t have this business of, “Oh my clothes are far better than yours.”I like maths. I always liked maths. I liked history and geography too, not art nor music. (Frances Duncan)

I left school when I was thirteen and then I travelled to Larne to the Technical. I stayed with my aunt in Glenarm and got the bus there direct to Larne. We done typewriting and book-keeping and things like that you know. I always remember the typewriting. Well, I did like it. They used to cover the keys with the wee black caps. ( Margaret O’Boyle)
I reneged later on in years but at that time the primary school was all right. Whenever we were eleven, you know, this big Intermediate School just opened down here at that time and we were transferred. It must have opened about ‘54 because I was eleven in ‘55 and it was already going a year at that time. That’s St. Aloysius’. That was nearly about the first of the secondary schools. I remember, you know, everybody that was of school leaving age or near it were all transferred. It was an awful gap whenever you went back to school, do you see, and there was nobody there older than ten or eleven, you know. (Francis Quinn)

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