Former students of Tubber N.S. recall their school days…
I remember walking through the fields on bare feet with my brothers for two miles. Sometimes I met my friends on the way. The worst thing about school was walking to school on a wet day with a school inspector coming. School started at 9.00 and ended at 3.00. Infants went home at 2.30. If you had money you could cross the road to Ryan’s shop and buy Bull eyes, Lemon drops, Rolos, Penny Cakes. If you were bold you would have to sit at the back and get slapped with a cane and if you were good you would get cocoa with your lunch and sweets after exams/inspectors. The best thing about school was talking and playing which was easier than work at home. I brought my lunch and books in my school bag. My lunch normally was brown bread, butter/jam and milk, which were heated by an open fire. The clothes I wore were a cotton overall, jumper/cardigan and skirt/dress underneath. My favourite subject was Religion because I found it easy to learn. I learned Irish, English, Sums, Christian Doctrine, History, Geography, Sewing, (some subjects through Irish). My worst subject was Maths (decimals). We wrote with a pencil and nib and ink and blotting paper. Infants used chalk and special books to write on. I first started school at 5 years old and there were 8 in my class and 58 in my classroom. I was 14 years and 7 months leaving school. The games we played at lunchtime were “Dan Dan” “Thread the needle” “Tug of War”. Miss Howard and Mr. O’Sullivan taught in Tubber National School during my years.
Things have changed since I was going to school. I had to get up very early every morning. There was a lot of work to be done. Before I headed off to school I had to get some turf to heat the fire at school. I tried to get the best piece of turf I had because if you brought a soggy piece to school the headmistress would call you up and the show the turf to the whole class and it was the biggest embarrassment for me. It took me about 40 minutes to get to school and I had to rush because if I was late I would get beaten. I loved the journey to school, taking shortcuts through the fields and rocks and meeting my friends. I had to watch my step, as I was bare footed. I loved the dry sunny mornings when you could hear the birds singing and the flowers coming up. The wet days were unbearable as you would slip going over the rocks or sometimes you would be in such a rush to get out of the rain that you would wander into a field of cattle and get chased. I hated school, especially my teacher. She was awful strict. At lunchtime I ate brown bread and milk. When school ended I didn’t hang about. There was work to be done at home. I had to look after my little sister. I didn’t stay long at school. I had to leave school early when I was about ten to help out at home as my father died when I was young and my mother was sick.
1927 – 1933
My school days were very dull except on the way back from school. School started at 9.15 which often meant getting up at six o clock. My walk to school was a long walk through bogs and trenches getting your feet soaked and filled with muck at least in winter any way. The school was 1 mile and half away from where I lived and that is when you take the short cut through the fields. I was woken every morning at six to feed the chickens and bed the pigs. Some mornings I was left until seven. The winter mornings were very tough. We sauntered up through the wet hills often slipping and cutting our knees which was the least of your worries, your clothes were wet and your boots were soaked and you would have to stay that way for the rest of the day. Eventually we arrived at school exhausted after running the last quarter of a mile in case of being late. We started the date with Religion which was the most learned subject. Everyone would have a small religion book of questions and answers. If you didn’t know all of the answers to those questions you would get a fine belt and sent to the “Dunces Corner”. The draught coming up from under the floor boards was very cold and the odd time you would get a dirty rat up with it. The walk home was much more enjoyable than the walk to school. It was a big adventure really that everyone enjoyed. In summer the walk to and from school was far more enjoyable. April was possibly the most welcomed month and the most enjoyable one. I remember one day in April the sun was beaming outside and the grass was sparkling with the dew from the night before and we went to school bare footed. We rushed to school, had our usual day but not as cold. On the way home I had the best fun I think I ever had. It will stick in my mind forever. I started the journey home that glories evening by running through the fields, kicking our bags ahead of us and tripping each other up. When we got to the bridge we sat at the bank of the river while talking and laughing. Then we decided to jump in and splash around before we all parted on our separate route. The journey after that was still exciting even though I was by myself. Unlike the way to school, I wasn’t in a hurry. I just enjoyed the sound of birds singing and cows mooing. That is why the way home was the best part of the day.
It was September 1943 when I started school. I liked it at the start. I had to get up at 6 o’clock to let out the hens and feed the calves, then I was on my way to school. I met all my friends on the way. When we went in to school we warmed our hands by the fire in cold mornings. If we got a question wrong we would get hit with a hazel rod. My lunch was brown bread and butter. My favourite subject was Maths because it came easy to me. The subject I hated was Irish, I just didn’t like it. We had an awful play ground, it was all dirt and muck. We wrote with a pen and pencil. The journey home was the best. We would walk very slowly laughing and joking hoping you wouldn’t get a job at home. The best thing about school was waiting for Friday evening and the worst thing about school was getting hit with the rod.