St Johnston and Carrigans Donegal



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The Hedge School

There would have been hedge schools locally. The teacher was smuggled into the locality and the parents of the children would have given him free lodgings and food during his stay.

The Schools Model

The first schools model was just to have one room with one teacher. Later the schools were meant to cater for two separate groups of students and had two classrooms with a principal and an assistant teacher. The state exam, the Primary Certificate, was introduced in 1929. Its focus was on reading, writing and arithmetic. With arithmetic, making correct calculations in their heads was the prime goal. The Primary Certificate ceased in 1967 with the rise in secondary schools. The secondary schools offered the Group Certificate, the Intermediate Certificate and the Leaving Certificate.

Most schools in the area were controlled by the Roman Catholic diocese of Raphoe. When the Stanley Act 1831 legislated for the creation of National Schools, the plan was to create schools that for all religious denominations. However, it came to pass that each Church, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic granted patronage to schools resulting in denominational schools. However, this did not stop some Catholics attending Protestant Schools and some Protestants attending Catholic Schools. The Diocesan Examiner visited Catholic schools once a year to ensure that the children were being taught the catechism properly. He asked them catechism questions If they couldn't answer their confirmation could be postponed. Religion was taught a lot in denominational schools. The school day was started with prayer in the mornings and finished with prayers in the afternoon.

Toilets were usually a bucket in a shed type structure out the back of the school. It was the practice for a child to take took sticks and a sod of turf to the school for the fire.

All active local schools participated in the Schools Folklore Scheme of 1938 facilitated by the Department of Irish Folklore. Essays encapsulating local tradition were supplied and provide a rich insight into long forgotten lore and events.