When my grandmother Annie Gillmor (1889-1978) and her siblings walked 10 minutes downhill to their Carrigeencor National School in the early years of the 1900s they passed a new school at the crossroads that none of them would ever attend. They looked in over the wall, in at the big tall windows behind which sat friends and neighbours, the younger ones somewhat confused.
“Carrigeecor School was first built by the landlord George R. Lane Fox, Esq. D.L. in the year 1850 for the education of the children of his tenants.” Says teacher Annie (Nan) Gillmor, née Boyce (1898-1944), my Grandmother’s sister in law, in The Schools Collection. The school drew pupils from the surrounding area including the mountain townland of Boihy, where there was a surprising number of small Protestant farms at that time. Today the derelict one roomed Carrigeencor school bears the date of 1857; it closed as a school in 1955.
For a time, there was another smaller Protestant a school in nearby Cloonaquin on the roadside opposite Middleton’s farmhouse, or Tom and Ethel Siggin’s as it is today. Two sisters, the Misses Goldens taught there, with their salaries being paid by Mr Latouche, a landlord in Dromahair. They taught six to eight pupils up to third class. Alec Davis of Boggaun went there, and most likely his siblings; pupils got a basic education before going to Carrigeencor NS and it was enough, he reported, for anyone wanting to apply to the Constabulary.
The old Kilcoosey school was about 2km from Carrigeencor, south west towards Dromahair, had been in existence for many years, probably starting as a hedge school. In 1913, due to overcrowding and poor repair, a new school was built by Fr Peter Galligan at the Kilcoosey crossroads. The new school was about 600 yards from Carrigeencor NS and was the one the Gillmor children passed twice each day. After Carrigeencor NS closed a few local Protestant families went there. Like Carrigeencor school, Kilcoosey took part in the National Folklore Archive, The Schools Collection during 1937-38.
Nan Boyce, taught at Carrigeencor NS from about 1925 and married Stuart Gillmor in August 1928; they lived at Boihy House, my Grandmother’s home. She was a competent and motivated teacher. After the birth of each of her three children Alfred (Freddie, 1930-1992), Edith (Edie, 1932 – 2012) and Margaret (Etta) she was very keen to get back to her pupils. Her youngest daughter Etta, arriving to school with her mother at the age three, recalls her first day when her small school case spilled empty polish tins – her toys – on to the hard school floor to the full laughter of the class.
Tragically, in the summer of 1944 Nan was carrying tea to the workers in a hayfield when she collapsed. She never recovered and died the following December. Nan’s death had severe repercussions for the family. Her husband, unable to cope sent the girls to in-laws in Scotland, and shortly afterwards auctioned the family farm, home and contents, to take up the job of land steward in Co Down. Earlier Freddie, studying at Mountjoy School in Dublin, failed to get a medical scholarship and fell out with his father. Against his father’s wishes he joined the British Navy; after 30 years’ service he resigned and took up the post of a Maths teacher. Brought up in Edinburgh, Edie and Etta struggled with the dislocation from their father and their Leitrim home.
To be concluded in the next blog, with notes following.