As I reflect on Alice Taylor’s book “To School through the Fields” I borrow and adapt a similar title: “School across the Mountain” – that is Walshe’s’, of course, in writing some of my childhood reflections with the scholars on the way to school. The era was in the post depression period with Germany having embarked on World War 11 and these memories are centred on the late 30s and early 40s.
It is with joy that I recall some memories of the people we encountered on this journey on the way to school. The unpaved road then known as Scott’s Lane connected Castlelambert and Lisheenkyle that eventually led to Carnaun School. It was the journey taken by the Higgins, Ruane, Moylan, Harris, Grealish, Kelly and Gilmore families in pursuit reluctantly of the wisdom that Tim and Babs O’Regan and Julia Monaghan, our School teachers, tried to impart to us. Shakespeare talks about all the world as a stage and men and women were merely players. Such players are encountered in the persons of our neighbours on the way to school, where we sometimes made many unnecessary stops, whether needed to or not, consistently resisting the reception of academia, projected upon us by our teachers.
There was Eddie Quirke-may he rest in peace! The smell of morning bacon that made us long for an early lunchtime still activates my palate. Then Mike and Mary Clancy, an elderly couple who lived in Scott’s house and who always gave generously of sweets and goodies to hungry children on the way home from school.
Across Walshe’s Mountain and the fragrance of heather and gorse, the hiding place of the fox that provided the fall hunt for the Galway Blazers. It also provided the summer butterflies for Joe Higgins and Mick Moylan and Staff Ruane to be later released in the classroom much to the dissatisfaction of our school master, Mr. O’Regan. Through Gleann na Gaduigh in the evening, we stopped to smell the buttercups and taste of wild strawberries that only an elder pupil would know of their location from year to year.
One of the hard lessons we learned early in life was that Tom Kelly’s apple orchard was out of limits. On one occasion he made the long journey to Carnaun School to report the misbehaving students from Castlelambert much to the chagrin of Mr. O’Regan and the embarrassment of our parents who thought their children were above reproach and not capable of such misdemeanors.
In the early years of World War 11, in the early morning, we met Mick Monaghan with his huge bicycle loaded down with rabbits and snares, the provider of meat for many in the surrounding neighbourhood.
In the early 1940s while the present Carnaun School was being renovated, class was held in Walshe’s house, now the residence of Willie Burke. The shorter distance for the boys and girls from Castlelambert and Lisheenkyle did not inspire them to any greater academic endeavours.
Written by Patrick Higgins
Published here 05 Feb 2021
Page 057 of The Carnaun Centenary Book
Mary Lavin: The Athenry Dimension
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