THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF OUR LIFE
by Tom Kenny
It may be a cliché but the old adage that the happiest days of our life were the ones we spent at school would be true for most people. When we were in school, we probably thought that it was all lies, but later we gradually realised it was true. Life changes with time but memories of our school days remain the same all the time, days of laughter, smiles, great friendships, games in the school yard, no worries of bills, taxes or finances, desks with flip-tops and inkwells in the middle, heavy school bags, the glantóir, headline copies, the poems we learned, the sheer joy of the last day before the holidays, the imaginative excuses for being late … “The two wheels fell off me bicycle, sir”.
The Shantalla we know today was originally known as ‘The Scheme’. Building started on the estate before the war but work stopped during WWII, and restarted after the war had finished. The Scheme was built on common ground which was grazed by Riordan’s cattle and Hernon’s horses. The Presentation sisters purchased property on Shantalla Road to build a school to meet the needs of the new population. This consisted of a large house and gardens, known as Ryan’s house, where the convent is situated and the adjoining field where the school is today.
Before 1955, the children of the area were educated by the Presentation Sisters in “The Old Rahoon School” on Presentation Road. The junior pupils attended the small school building beside St. Joseph’s Church, the seniors in a building which has now been replaced by the secondary school. On June 27th, Bishop Browne blessed the new school in Shantalla called Scoil Bhríde and said it had a ‘special claim on all who were interested in the preservation of the Irish language as many of the families who had settled in Shantalla had come from the Gaeltacht’.
Four days later, Scoil Bhríde formally opened with 200 pupils and 4 staff. It had 7 classrooms, 2 teacher’s rooms, cloakrooms and toilets. It catered for girls from age 4 to 12 and boys up until they made their first communion.
There was general rejoicing in Shantalla as the children of the residents now had a school within easy walking distance. Lunch break was of one hour’s duration and since most lived locally and very few mothers worked outside the home at the time, the children went home for lunch. The kids of the farming community in Rahoon stayed in school for lunch and were supervised by a member of staff. Class sizes were large.
So today, as children are preparing to go back to school, we thought to show you some Scoil Bhríde pupils of yesteryear. Our first image is of the girl's First Communion Class of 1972. They are, back row; Sister Dominick, Caroline Higgins, Denise Mannion, Joan Power, Anna O'Brien, Martina McDonagh, Sister Anthony. Middle row; Cathy Egan, Bernie Butler, Aoife McGinty, Caroline Kenny, Geraldine Anderson. In front are Fidelma Holland, Christina Maloney, Martina Murray, Cathy Higgins.
Our second photogrpah shows the boy's First Communion Class of 1968. Back row; Brendan Collins, John Madden, Paul Robinson, Noel Murtagh, Kieran Tynan, Peadar Flaherty, Dermot Crane, William Corcoran. Centre row; Mother Catherine, John Griffin, Joey Pyne, Padraic Griffin, Seán Graham, Peter Spellman, Peter Lynch, Paddy McDonagh, Marty Davoren, John McGrath, Sister Pius. In front are Tommy Conneely, Richard Devlin, Tony Murphy, ----- , Timmy Walsh, Eugene Keogh, Stephen Corcoran, Maurice Walsh. Seated are Stephen Haynes, John Brown and Alan Kenny.