Scoil Chroí Naofa and Presentation College Athenry were found by Nano Nagle the foundress of The Presentation Order in the year of 1826 403,000 Irish children were thaught in Hedge school's.
Athenry had its own hedge school known as Watty's which was situated at Court Lane near Dempsey's Slaughter house. Between the ruined house once known as Ms. Finn's house and the house to the very left of the Old Handalley used to be a primary school which was built under the Deptartment of Education.
By 1875 on the register of the primary school there was 55 boys and 35 girls. In 1907 Mrs. Dolan became the last lay principal of the school and on 2nd Janurary 1908 by urgent request of Cannon Canton to Archbishop Most Reverand John Healy asked The Presentation Order to set up a convent in Athenry and to to teach in the girls school.
Canon Canton kindly vacated the house to the order of nuns which became their new home. The nuns thought there until Sacred Heart was built in 1910. Sacred Hart was toaccomadate 150 pupils but by 1912 there were 181 on the register. Then a new classroom had to be built onto the school at the um of $325. By March 1913 classes began commencing in that room.
Sacred Heart a.k.a Scoil Chroí Naofa was built by the contractor John Broderick who became president of the Irish Volunteers in 1914 according to his son Sean Broderick T.D. Old IRA witness statement in 1950. There were five nuns and two lay teachers on staff and Sr. Paul was the first principal of that school.
In the case of the boys they were though from Junior Infants up to First Class and then continued their education in the Boys School. If they were fortunate enough they could go to De La Salle Brothers in Loughrea, St. Mary's, or the Bish in Galway or St. Jarlath's in Tuam but many of the boys emigrated. The girls at Sacred Heart were though up to seventh class and learned all their subjects through Irish. The children were thaught for their primary certificate.
A list of the staff in Sacred Heart in the 1930's below:
Infants thaught by Sr. Dominic
First Class thaught by Sr. Baptist
Second Class thaught Sr. Ignatius
Thrid and Fourth Class thaught by Sr. Ignatius
Fifth Class thaught by Cecilia
Sixth Class thaught by Sr. Agnes
Sr. Baptist had been one of the principals of the old school and was a choir teacher for the children. Displine in the school was strict and penmanship was known to be very important. Each child had a pen, nib, ink and a sheet of blotting paper to prevent blobs. Two children seated to a desk and each desk had two inkwells which had to be filled every week. On FridradsyEvery Friday all the ink weels were washed in the Tap Room.
Parents bought school books in the school after been given the booklist needed for their children's education and would send the required amount of money to the class teacher. Boys and Girls recieved their first Holy Communion in 1st class and the girls at Sacred Heart would make their Confirmation in 6th class. As already mentioned the boys by the end of 1st class would move to the Boys school or a different school.
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