Community Memories: Marie Farrell

Miniatures of Marie's school and church in Newtown Carlow made by her nephew, Thomas Murray Miniatures.

Marie Farrell has sent us her stories from her schooldays in Newtown/Dunlecky NS in Carlow, and a miniature of the school that she attended which has been made by her nephew Thomas Murray Miniatures. Thank you Marie, for reaching out!

“My schooldays in Newtown/ Dunleckney NS back in the late 1950s and the early 1960s – A two story granite built rural school 2 class rooms and a hallway with coat hangers on the ground floor and one big classroom entered by a outside door and a stairs. The toilets were outside across the schoolyard and our only heating were open fires.

I first attended this school in 1958 at the age of 5. As we had to walk one and a half miles by road to school but we could take a shortcut through the fields. There were 3 other families along our road with children in the school so we all met up to travel to and from school together and it was up to the older children to look after the younger ones and make sure that they got to school and back home safely.

On our way through the fields which could be quiet dangerous as we had to climb over styles and gates and check that the farmer had not let cattle or a bull in any of the fields we had to cross and if they had we had to take an alternative route. There was also a river to cross which had a plank across it to walk over but if you missed your step you could end up in the river which was about a six foot fall into the river especially in the winter months.

The only mishap I am remember at that spot was when my sister dropped her knitting into it and all we could do was watch it sail away down the river. She got very upset as she was very good and particular about her knitting. Me and knitting was another story as I was left handed and could not manage to get the hang of it at all as I kept going in the opposite direction with each row so my teacher could not manage my way of doing it so she just gave up on me ever knitting “the proper way” as she put it .

This was also the teacher that when she was seeing who was good enough to join the church choir told me to sit down that I was a crow, teachers at that time did not sugar coat things with children, they said it how it was.

Even with these little set backs I was enjoying school and had fun with my friends. Even on our way home when the big boys would decide to rob someone’s orchard and leave the younger ones outside on the road when they got through a hole in the ditch and then at times we would hear the farmer shouting and the boys coming through the ditch and telling us to run.

But it was worth it when they didn’t get caught as we all got some apples. At this stage I was writing with my left hand and had been since I started school .

When I was 10 I went into the headmasters room then everything changed as he made me write with my right hand and I had to start to learn how to write again but this time with my right hand. Now I can write with both my left and right hand which is quiet unusual now. Times were hard in those day if one happened to be left handed with the result I walked out of school at 14 and did not return to education for 2 decades later to finish my education.

School days back then were hard but we had some good times and some happy memories and got some very good friends which I still keep in contact with to this day!”

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By Chloe Browne

Chloe Browne is an Irish writer, curator and Art Historian, with a keen interest in objects and social history.