Memories of Leam school 1930-1945

By Jennifer Geoghegan

In the early 1900’s the schools were very different to what they are today. I had the pleasure with Pat Lydon reminiscing with two past pupils, Margaret Naughton and Mary Keane Lydon. They told us stories of school life around 1930. Mary started school around 1930 and Margaret around 1937.

They were 7-8 years of age when they started school as opposed to to- days starting age of 4-5 years of age. They didn’t finish school until they were 16years old. They had school up to 8th class.  They hadn’t the opportunity to go on to second level education. They sat an exam in their final year called,” The Primary Cert”, that completed their education.

School Conditions

When they started school they had to bring two sods of turf to school to heat the room. If the family had no turf or if the child forgot to bring the turf they were beaten with a wooden cane, which was frequently used to beat the children.

School Visitors

The Parish Priest and the local garda were frequent visitors to the school. They called once a week to make sure that the children were coming to school. There was also an account kept of the children who attended mass and the children who didn’t attend. The principal at the time was a man called Mr. O Dowd R.I.P. He lived beside the school called “The Residence”. The older children in the school were sent to clean the house, take out the ashes bring in the water and whatever other jobs Mrs. O Dowd had for them to do.

Life at School

The children enjoyed knitting in school. They used goose feathers as knitting needles. They also enjoyed sewing classes. One of their fondest memories was of their Holy Communion Days. They made their Communion in the Oughterard Church as there was no church in the area. Margaret remembers being carried to the church on the carrier of a bike and Mary remembers going in sidecar. They were obliged to fast from 12o’clock the night before receiving Holy Communion. They do not remember their Confirmation.


         Extract from “Flash Point” 2000 by Jennifer Geoghegan




Sister Columba Geoghegan Looks Back in Time.


Sister Columba Geoghegan who was a member of the Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd  Llys Marie, Rosmore Drive, Belfast wrote this letter to the principal of Derryglen School on the occasion of a school reunion 2000.


My dearest Friends,

Congratulations on the forth coming Millennium Magazine, which gives me much pleasure. I myself being a past pupil of Leam school from nineteen twenty seven to nineteen thirty five, having as my teachers, Miss Mary Mons from Glann in Junior Class and a Mr. Martin O Dowd as teacher in Senior Class. We also had Mrs. Kathleen Donnellan Murphy, Miss Josie Joyce from Portacarron and Miss Mc Govern for six months. On the whole we had many happy days at school, alas some of my companions have since gone to their reward, so few of us remain.

 I do still meet Hannah Geoghegan from Derryglinn when I come to Oughterard as also Mrs. Mary Geoghegan Conneely from Claremount whom I had the good pleasure of winning the Corn Naomh Cuimmen Prize for solo singing at Fleadh Oughterard 1933 and 1934 – two successive years and also Mrs. Kathleen Lee Joyce from Leam who is married in Camus and have not met her for the past sixty years – time flies.

I had been to Mass in Leam Chapel and looking about did imagine how small it looked in my eyes to when I attended school in my youth.  I do enclose some old photos.


Prayerful remembrance to all,

God be Praised,

Sister Columba Geoghegan

5th May 2000




































This page was added on 25/11/2013.

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