Two Schools Two Communities -2

The troupe of Gillmor children on their way to Carrigeencor school were always turned out well; with shoes and boots, and clothes clean; numbers varying over the years, they met up their friends from the other school along the way; William, Herbie, Jack, Emma, Stewart, Hilda, Chrisie, with my Grandmother Annie, the eldest, setting an example, keeping order. Their parents felt themselves fortunate that a Church of Ireland school was so close.

OSI map showing Boihy Ho. and Kilcoosey and Carrigeencor schools.

At the school Múinteoir Annie Gillmor’s contribution to The Schools Collection (1937-38) is significant. As the collector of her school’s entries she notes herself as the source of thirty five of the seventy five listings. She records details of many bird species, which she had clearly studied, over 140 riddles and much more, and displays a good local knowledge, despite being a relatively recent arrival. Her prose is simple and clear, and her contribution is available at this link – Annie Gillmor.

Carrigeencor and Kilcoosey NS operated under 1831 legislation establishing a non-denominational school system that ensured separate religious education. This was to replace the hotchpotch of hedge schools (then legal), church schools and a few official Royal National Schools. However, its primary purpose was the assimilation of the Irish population and as such the curriculum and teaching materials excluded Irish references, a common strategy throughout the colonies of the British Empire. For a variety of reasons, by the late 1800’s and despite the legislation, national schools had become denominational; being managed almost entirely by either the Catholic Church or Church of Ireland.  While the system was tuned to their mission, it facilitated separation and division, and arguably, in 1921 presented the new Northern Ireland state with a template for its own educational system.

Annie Gillmor (centre) with Mrs and Rev Coursey

Both Kilcoosey and Carrigeencor NS collected material for the folklore project, The Schools Collection. The stories and lore recorded by the two neighbouring schools are, as you would expect similar; cures, marriage customs, unusual events and happenings, games played, and folk lore, songs and poems. But there are differences with each school tending to reference their communities and its experience. Carigeencor NS provides one short piece on cholera during the famine, while the Kilcoosey collection has eight stories describing local famine memories. Here is one from James McMorrow, in 1937 then aged 88.

“In the townland of Carrigeen-cor on Dromahair, Roberts Blayers farm there is an old famine house. In the place where the house stood there still remains as big heap of stones and bushes. The name of the people who lived in the house where Bradleys. Two of the girls who lived in the house died from the Cholera and the others were afraid to stay in the house and the went out begging.”

Since my Grandmother was born in 1889 the population of Leitrim has dropped by over 70%, through emigration and resulting low birth rate; for her and those Protestants who remained their schooling helped fostered their sense of difference and advantage; culturally Irish as they were, they remained apart.

Of the nine Gillmor children of this generation who survived at Boihy, William (1892 – 1929) and Bertie (Herbert 1893 – 1960) emigrated to Canada, Jack (John 1895 – 1967) and Alexander (1898 – 1971) to England, Steward (1901-1987) and Chrissie (1906 – 1991) settled in Northern Ireland, while Hilda (1905 – 1971) and Emma (1886 – 1940) married and settled in Co Sligo and Annie, my Grandmother married Richard Davis and lived at Boggaun, Larkfield, Co Leitrim.


1.  Jane Gertrude Gillmor (August 1984 – Jan 1900) was the fourth child born into this family; she died aged 5 ½ years old. Their parents were William Hunter (1861 – 1926) and Margaret Gillmor (1862 -1933).

2.  My grandmother hung a coronation picture of Queen Elizabeth II in her kitchen in 1953. This has been updated in the previous blog. Thanks to Padraig Fitzpatrick for the correction.

3.  Essays in the History of Irish Education, edited by Brendan Walsh, Palgrave Macmillan Limited, 2016. See Chapter 2, The National System of Education, 1831–2000, Tom Walsh.

4.  Mrs Annie Gillmor’s contribution to The Schools Collection, and a description of Bohey townland by Peggy Maxwell.

5. Carrigeencor NS contribution to The Schools Collection.

5.  Kilcoosey NS school contribution to The Schools Collection.

6.  See Gareth Byrne’s article on Carrigeencor and Kilcoosey national schools at Dromahair Heritage

7.  See Enda O’Flaherty’s entry on Carrigeencor NS, in Disused School Houses. Thanks to Enda for the use of his picture of Carrigeencor school.

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