Limerick pupils to relive best days of their lives thanks to new school book

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Celebrating: Raminta Petrosivte, Rory Dunworth, AJ Moloney, Jamie Greaves, Amy OBrien and Amy Hogan, with principal Mary McDonnell
SCHOOLDAYS in Croom are about to be relived by past pupils across the globe thanks to a new book which is being launched to mark 150 years of national school education in the town.

SCHOOLDAYS in Croom are about to be relived by past pupils across the globe thanks to a new book which is being launched to mark 150 years of national school education in the town.

The celebration of the historic milestone is the main event taking place in the town for the Gathering.

The launch of the book which is entitled The Story of Croom National School: 1863-2013, takes place on June 14 at 7.30pm.

“It’s a great celebration for the school,” said school principal, Mary McDonnell.

“We got funding for this event from Ballyhoura so we are the focus of the Gathering in Croom on that weekend.”

Earlier on in the day, there will be an open day for parents and people from the parish featuring a birthday party for the children complete with a birthday cake and an open farm.

The book which will be launched by retired principal of the school, Jimmy Murphy, is a treasure trove of memories for past pupils of the national school with lots of little gems including personal recollections, photographs and old compositions.

“The book is divided up into decades,” Ms McDonnell explained. “We have reminiscences by past pupils, retired staff and present staff.”

The first section of the book from 1863 up to 1925 is the work of Milo Spillane who has a keen interest in local history. “He researched the early history of the school,” said Ms McDonnell, a teaching principal.

“We got contributions from past pupils from all the generations as far back as we could go.”

The editorial committee including Ms McDonnell, Milo Spillane, John Liston, Paddy Hurley, Jerry Murray, and Michael McDonnell made contact with past pupils from all the generations as far back as they could possibly go.

“We have contributions from people who were at school from the 1930s up – their memories of being at the school, the friends they made and the games they played. You can imagine there has been a massive change in the hobbies in the last 10 years and the last 60 years,” Ms McDonnell explained.

Another chapter - “a very special chapter” as Ms McDonnell puts it, was compiled by a past teacher of the school, Betty Cullinan.

In the year 2000, Ms Cullinan, as part of a project, photographed everybody in the school.

“We have reproduced that chapter,” said Ms McDonnell, “that’s 13 years, so there are people there who were in sixth class at that time and are now maybe 25 so it’s of great interest.

“We have another section whereby we have photographed everybody in 2013 so we have that reproduced as well. We have a lot of old photographs that people contributed and we were very grateful for that.”

Towards the end of the book, there is a section on the Focloir Commission which was a project undertaken in 1938 whereby children in national schools all over the country were encouraged to write stories about anything they liked.

“It was about local knowledge and focloir,” said Ms McDonnell who teaches sixth class in the school.

“The children interviewed their parents and grandparents and wrote about their pastimes and hobbies. All the stories were gathered by the Focloir Commission and taken to Dublin and catalogued. I think it is in the national archives now.”

David Cantwell who was the principal in Croom at that time, collected one of the largest collections of any teacher in the whole country for the project.

A section of that collection has been reproduced in the new book.

“There are a couple of people still alive in Croom who contributed to that in 1938,” said Ms McDonnell.

St Mary’s National School in Croom caters for 153 students and employs a staff of 14 including nine teachers, three special needs assistants, a secretary and a caretaker

The Story of Croom National School: 1863-2013 which is priced at €20 will be available for purchase in the school on the day of the book launch and will also be available in local shops including Spar, the chemist, and Lynch’s garage.