St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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Life at School long ago

Schools in the nineteenth and early twentieth century were infamous for their lack of hygiene.  There was no paper so the children used slates, set in wooden frames, to write on with chalk.  When the slate had to be wiped, the children would spit on the slates to make wiping the chalk off far easier.  The slates were used locally up to the 1950's but by then the spitting was discouraged. It is thought that these practices did a lot to promote the scourges of TB and other diseases.  The lack of personal cleanliness of the pupils was a serious issue too.  There were no baths and fewer changes of clothes so smelly feet, the smell of sweat and stale clothes was common.  At the turn of the century, it was deducted that a huge majority of the schools only had the floors washed with soap and water about three times a year.  Naturally, dust was a problem.

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