Inver National School 1885 – 2010

Inver National School as we know it now was established in 1885. This year, 2010, marks its 125th year in existence.

A brief history  (an exerpt from the original article by Micheal McGarry, Principal of Inver NS )

In 1848, Mr.Williams (being friendly with the local Wesleyan preacher) was accused of interfering with the religious beliefs of his pupils. The charges were not proved, but recognition for the school was broken in the same year.

Another school was established in 1855 , only to be closed, and yet another one established in 1856. The Parish Priest , a Rev Domnick Madden, from the neighbouring parish of Belmullet was the new manager. The first teacher in the school was a Bridget Clarke, who received �5 per year, while the children’s fees were between 6d. (old pennies) and 1/- (shilling) per quarter.

In December 1856, a William Folleth accused the unfortunate Ms.Clarke of undue severity towards his child. He also complained that she had attended fairs and dances !.She was severely reprimanded by the authorities. She left the school in 1858.

In 1866 another school was opened in Inver. The new teacher’s name was Thomas Egan. Another teacher who lived here at the time was found to be unsuitable for the post, because of being guilty of drunkenness!!

The present school was built in 1885. John Caulfield was appointed as the first principal of this new school. In 1897 the manager, a Rev. John J. Hegarty , reported that the school was closed at 2.45 p.m. on the 20th July, 1898, without permission, so that the teachers could attend horse racing. Such a misdemeanour!


 According to Fr. Sean Noone in his book Where the Sun Sets,  the present building was erected for £252.13.8.  The first principal in 1885 was young man called John Caulfield.

John Caulfield was the first principal of Inver National School.

John Caulfield was the first principal of Inver National School.





He was not fully qualified at the time and subsequently went to St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra to receieve his training. You can see some of the original rolla entries below:

A section of the school register from 1885

A section of the school register from 1885





John Caulfield died as a young man and was replaced by John Moyles. The photograph below shows how Inver National School looked in the 1920s. The man in the photograph is John Moyles and the woman is BA Caulfield.

Inver National School in the 1920s

Inver National School in the 1920s

You can see that the school has changed a good deal since the 1920s by the photograph below:

Inver National School 2010

Inver National School 2010
Interview with John and Katie McAndrew
Myra Duffy, Bridie Keenaghan, Stephanie Blake, Peadar Caulfield, Kathleen Carey, Mary Caulfield, Nancy Noone, Kathleen Caulfield

The school choir in the 1950s: Myra Duffy, Bridie Keenaghan, Stephanie Blake, Peadar Caulfield, Kathleen Carey, Mary Caulfield, Nancy Noone, Kathleen Caulfield

John and Katie started school in Inver in the early 1930s. They lived about a mile from the school and walked each day no mater what the weather was like. In summer they would walk in their bare feet because they didn’t have shoes for everyday wear, they would have one pair which was usually kept for Sundays . Their feet would be sore for the first few days but were usually hardened up by the school holidays. In winter they wore wellingtons and these often left red sore marks on their legs especially if they got wet.
Most of the clothes they wore at the time were knitted or hand made at home. Girls usually wore a dress with a pinafore on top. Boys usually wore short trousers, even in winter, and hand knitted jumpers and cardigans. They often remember getting soaked wet on the way to school and having to sit in those wet clothes all day.
They would have to bring two sods of turf to school each day for the classroom fire. There was no central heating that time.
They older boys would usually have to light the fires in the morning with paraffin oil and if it had run out they would be sent to a local house to get hot coals to start the fire.
They learnt Maths (sums) English, Irish, History and Religion (Catechism). Each child didn’t have a book like we do today , the teacher would write everything on the blackboard and they had to write it into their copies or learn it off by heart. They used a pen and ink to write with. The ink would come in a powder form and children would take their turn to make up the ink with water and fill the ink wells on each desk .
Handwriting from 1940sGirls were usually taught cooking and sewing. They made bread or scones and these were baked in an old type oven (pot) on the open fire in the classroom. The girls had to have a white apron for cooking , it would be made at home using the empty bags that flour came in (Early Dawn). These bags would be washed and bleached to whiten them and cut and sewed into the apron style. These flour bags were often used in the homes to make other items of clothing.
Lunch was supplied in school for the children. It was usually bread and jam/butter and cocoa. Some of the older children would go to the local spring well for the water to make the cocoa and the teachers tea. The water was then boiled on the fire.
The children played games like, catch, hide and seek and the boys would play football whenever they could find anything to kick around, usually an empty tin or a stone. They didn’t’t have footballs or other playground equipment like we have today.
Children did not go on school trips or have parties in school like we do today.
At the end of the school year the children would get some boiled sweets as a treat. The sweets came in a tin can, and each child could take three or four each. When the can was empty it was often given to a child to take home. It was used at home for holding water or milk from the cow.
The inspector (Cigire)would come to the school once a year to test one child in each family usually the youngest one. If the child was able to answer his questions in Irish then the family would get the grant which was around £2. This was a lot of money in those times and children would be made speak Irish all the time when it was near the time for the inspector (Cigire) to come.

John and Katie can remember that the post man would come to the school on a big white horse, he would usually have his tea there and sometimes gave the letters to the children to take home. This saved him the making a journey to some villages.
Katie can remember getting a prize once for being the best speller in the school, she got a lovely hand knitted cardigan which was knitted by the teachers aunt.

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