They’ll remember Carnaska School ‘as long as fire burns!’

What do a nurse in St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, the catering manageress in the Red Cow Inn and a former Cathaoirleach in the Seanad have in common? At a glance you would say probably not a lot. However, each is tied together by their part in the history of Carnaska National School.   Mary (Collins) Boylan was enrolled in the school from 1962 to ’68 and has gone on to become a respected member of the nursing community.    Mary Lannon remembers affectionately her time spent in Carnaska, which helped her on her road to managing one of the busiest restaurants in Dublin.    Former Carnaska Principal Brian Mullooly carved out a career in affairs of state that made him one of the most prominent politicians in the country towards the end of the twentieth century.   In 2005 however each was saddened by the closing of the national school which had served this community so well as the ‘new school’ since 1947 and prior to that as the ‘old school’ from 1841-1947.    In order to preserve the memory of the school a committee came together, under the guidance of Henry Owens, to produce a journal charting the school’s history.   The culmination of two years work, the journal was launched by RTE’s Brian Carthy in a packed Frank’s of Ballybeg on Friday night last.      Speaking to the large crowds in attendance he was quick to praise ‘a wonderful journal’ and made special reference to the work of the committee in producing a work that ‘captures what is so special about the community’.    Other speakers included former principal Mary Jameson. Mrs. Jameson, who for 36 years had been a teacher in the school, purchased 6 copies of the book and paid tribute to what she described as ‘a beautiful historical record.’    She also spoke of her experiences in the school itself, declaring her time there as the ‘best years of her life.’   Most of those present were former pupils of the school. One such student was Mrs. Kathleen Lennon (Shaughnessy). Mrs. Lennon, now aged 83, attended the ‘old school’ and began her education there in 1929. She spoke fondly of her time there and the rounded education she received. In a time where not everyone attended secondary school Kathleen went on to the convent in Strokestown to further her schooling.    All were full of praise for the role the school played in the community. Two women who were able to testify to that were Maisey Bosquette and Greta Gibbons. The Bosquette and Gibbons families each put 13 children through the school over periods spanning 25 years.    Mrs. Bosquette told of her ‘sadness’ at the school’s closing but preferred to focus on the positive memories she had of the school and the first-rate education it had provided for her children.   Indeed that was the general theme of the evening. While there was sorrow shown for the school’s closing the evening was not overcome with melancholic nostalgia.    Dimphna Hurley, another former pupil described it as ‘not a bad old place!’ Hugh Collins, a student from 1959-66, spoke of ‘great memories’ of history class. Gay Cassidy, who had three children attend the school, reminisced warmly of a school tour to Dublin Zoo.    The launch of the journal was conducted in a celebratory manner. The journal itself, while it is a tribute to the school’s past, is also a celebration of that past and one which, as Brian Carthy emphasised, will ensure that ‘the memory of the school will be retained for as long as fires burn.’