Schools Reunion 29th July – 5th August 2005
Hugh Cassidy from Leghowney put a committee together to organise a schools reunion. The schools to be involved were all in close proximity to Leghowney: Copany, Barnesmore, Tawnawilly, Clar, Drumnahoul, Tullynaught, Lough Eske and of course Leghowney.
The Leghowney school was run by a Master Farrell and is now the home of Jean Hamilton. Copany, Barnesmore and Drumnahoul schools were attended by pupils from Leghowney and the surrounding areas. As reported by the local press, this was a great success. Hugh is very proud of the fact that he had the various clergy on the altar in St. Agatha’s Church, Clar for the interdenominational service marking the opening of the schools reunion.
The Brave Scholars of Copany School
Built in 1891 it would have been one of the first state schools. Its design was a two-classroom school with a folding partition, a larger porch with numbered coat hangers and a long black slate slab to hold the bucket of drinking water. When the school was used for dances or one act plays or concerts, the folding partition was moved to leave a very large open space for the entertainment. It was from Copany school that the Leghowney club was formed and one of its founding members was Johnny McGlinchey of Driminardage. It was the people of that ere, the McGlincheys, the Carrabins, the Curristians, Murphys, Travers’ and many more that inspired the community to build a community hall now known as Leghowney Hall. A large number of pupils passed through Copany school, with some futhering their education in professions. Clergy: Fr. Donal Cassidy of Aughlim, Fr Aodh Curristian of Ballykilone, Rev. John Dean of Copany; Solicitor: John McMullin; Teachers: Margaret Quinn, Eilish Quinn, Pat Ward, the Gildea Boys and Girls; Health Profession: Mary Quinn, Monica Quinn and many more; Garda: Patrick McCadden, Charles Quinn, James Quinn, Eamon Travers, Sean McGlinchey, Eamon McGlinchey and Seamus Bonner; Sports: Seamus Bonner, Joseph McMullin. Copany school had many people with lots of musical talents. The Leghowney bands were established in the 1930’s. the flute band was the first formed and it was replaced in the 1940’s with a pipe band. The majority of families who made up the Leghowney bands all went to Copany School. The Boyles, Murphys, Hilleys, Lawnes, Quinns, Cassidys, McGlincheys, Devlins and Travers’. Copany school was also known as the Four Masters school and it holds a lot of memories for the people of this area.
Copany School by Frances O’Neill
Monday 26th September was my first day in the Four Masters’ National School, Copany. My ambition to be a teacher was fulfilled. I was replacing Mrs McGinty who had retired. Keavsa Gallagher was my Principal with whom I travelled to school each day and to whom I owe a great deal of gratitude for the assistance and encouragement she gave me during those vital early years.
The school was a two-roomed building with a partition which could not be opened because the key was lost. However, a few years later, it did open. One day we heard a movement at the top of the partition and then the tail of a mouse appeared. Without delay the boys ran, shook the partition fiercely to try and dislodge our furry friend. The mouse soon disappeared, and lo and behold, the partition opened. It was wonderful to be able to open the two rooms into one we needed.
My classroom was bright and airy but very vare on that first day. Our only heat came from a large open fire wher turf, and later coal, burned. The children carried sticks to school each morning and the teacher lit the fire. The rooms were swept every evening. Many years later, the late Jim McMullin became our caretaker. Jim opened the school bright and early and always had a roaring fire burning when teachers and pupils arrived. Every morning, two senior pupils went to Glackin’s well for bucketfuls of spring water which was used for drinking, for making the teachers’ tea and for making tea or cocoa for the children in winter.
At the bottof the the playground were dry toilets – one for the boys and one for the girls (teachers included), which were cleaned out at the end of each term. The playground was sloped, rough and stony, but it did not stop the children from playing and kicking footballs. One pupil, Joyce McMullin, son of Jim, went on to join the County team which won the All-Ireland in 1992.
In October and March the station Mass was held in the school. The floors were scrubbed by the teachers, and the rooms were cleaned from top to bottom by the pupils. After Mass, the priests were entertained to breakfast, which meant that all cooking utensils, china and food had to be carried from home. Even the table and chairs had to be transported, all in a Ford 8 car!
Each Friday afternoon, the Principal, Keavsa Gallagher, introduced an hour of culture. One of the pupils, James Quinn, a member of the Leghowney Pipe Band, provided the music with his bagpipes, and Irish dancing was taught. If the day was wet the wellies were on, but that did not deter the dancers!
When Fr. Harkin, R.I.P., was curate in Clar, the senior pupils provided a choir on the first Sunday of every month. To facilitate the training of the choir, he gave the school the old harmonium for St. Agatha’s. this instrument proved to be very useful when the pupils were practicing for concerts in Leghowney Hall. On one famous occasion, Fr. Charles McGrenra, R.I.P., the then curate, who was raising funds to repair Clar Chapel, brought us, with the Leghowney Entertainers, to perform in Ardara Hall. A great night was had by all.
It was a sad day in Copany when Keavsa Gallagher, the Principal, announced that she was leaving for Africa to get married. She was replaced by Miss Gussie Begley, who remained as Principal until 1969 when she transferred to Hugh Roe Boys’ N.S. Mrs Catherene McGinley succeeded her and in 1070 was replaced by Mr. Charlie Sweeney who remained as principal until the closure of the school in 1972.
When the key of the door of the Four Masters’ School was turned for the last time it was the end of an era. No more would the sound of the school bell and the happy laughter of the children playing ring out over the surrounding townlands.