5.2 Life on the Island:
The Island School
The table below was compiled from references
to Scattery School in Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland
As can be seen while the number of pupils declined significantly from
the nineteenth to the twentieth century the percentage attendance improved.
Table 12: Attendance at Scattery Island N.S., 1873-1913
||Total number of pupils
|| Average daily attendance
The first available records for the school
are from 1869
which shows that the teacher was Peter Boyle with fifty pupils. Accommodation
consisted of a rented thatched building measuring twenty feet by fourteen
feet. (It was probably attached to the northern end of Hanrahan's - Griffith's).
However oral family information states that before this around 1860 a
school was located in the basement of the Elizabethan Castle. Peter Boyle’s
annual salary as an untrained teacher was eighteen pounds and he resigned
in January 1872.
The next teacher also untrained was Sinon Mescall in 1872 with an initial
salary of twenty four pounds.
He resigned in July 1876 after four years. Michael Madigan was the next
teacher, again untrained, reflecting the difficulty of getting and keeping
a teacher on the island where they would have to lodge with a family and
return to the mainland at weekends if weather conditions were favourable.
John Brennan a native islander was a qualified teacher appointed in 1892
on an annual salary of £35 but this had risen to £89 in 1905
when he resigned. He was replaced by Elizabeth Kelly appointed in 1906
and she remained until 1910 on a salary of £44 per annum, Michael
Cunningham was next for twelve years and he lodged in the Master Gunner's
house. He was followed by Eddie Naughton who stayed for two years to be
succeeded by William Hayes who also only remained a few years both lodging
on the island. Nelly O'Connor was appointed in 1929 and she stayed for
three years to be succeeded by Mrs Connolly and in 1931 she was succeeded
by Peadar O'Loughlin. Finally in 1935 Nora Culligan was appointed lodging
with the Melican family and acclimatised well to life on the island remaining
until the school closed in 1948.
The original schoolhouse was attached to the derelict house on the right
Sometimes the teachers were in trouble
at inspection time as the following examples shows,
Sinon Mescall was reprimanded during March 1872 for using improper punishment
on his pupils the report stated that “if such conduct be repeated
he will be declared unfit to conduct a National School”. In
September 1899 the teacher (John Brennan) was severally reprimanded on
very unsatisfactory performance exhibited at last exam especially in senior
classes “unless next exam shows improvement serious action must
be taken”. (This is a change from the excellent newspaper report
on results below of the 27th May 1897).
1892 Saturday 3rd December (Kilrush
Tenders are invited for the Building of a School House on Scattery Island.
Plans and specifications to be seen with the Very Rev S Malone, Kilrush.
The lower of any tender not necessarily accepted. Tenders will be received
up to the 21st of December.
1895 Saturday 18th May (Kilrush
-------------Arrivals: 200 tons by the
Lilla of the celebrated “Nine Elms” brand cement
– we may mention that contractors will have only this particular
cement and consider it the best and finest article for the construction
of their works. It is used exclusively in the new National School buildings
1897 Tuesday 27th May (Clare
Mr J F Hogan the District Inspector of
National Schools has held the annual examination for results in the Scattery
National School. There was a very good number presented for examination
in the junior and senior classes and the answering was highly satisfactory
as stated by the inspector in his report on the school. The answering
showed the highest possible percentage of passes in all the classes based
on a most difficult programme. Mr Hogan reported most favourably on the
order, discipline and cleanliness of the school, coupled with the sprightliness
and general demeanour of the pupils while under examination. We congratulate
Mr J Brennan, the worthy teacher of the school on the gratifying results
of his labours.
1898 Report on the State of Education:
Old unsuitable house has been replaced by
new vested building at Scattery Island.
1831/32 Report on Navigation of River Shannon
When the Lighthouse on the point of Tarbert is completed, I think it will
be found a fine safety harbour, where vessels may run for at any time
of the night from the outward anchorages of Carrigaholt or Scattery.
The Scattery lighthouse was built on
the island alongside the coastal battery and the light was first established
on the 1st December 1872. It purpose is to lead vessels to the safe anchorage
of Scattery Island and also to guide them up-river because of the narrows
between the island and Rinanna Shoal.
A house was also built, beyond the boundary of the firing range, for the
lighthouse keeper who was usually accompanied by his wife and family.
Before the lighthouse was built the pilots would light fires, on the highest
point of the island on the raised mound in the field directly west of
and adjoining the ruined church at Ard-na-nAingeal, to guide ships up
to Scattery Roads.
Scattery Lighthouse and Battery
The Coastal Battery
The Scattery Battery, one of six for the defence of the Shannon Estuary,
was completed in 1814 and was occupied by soldiers of the Royal Artillery
up to 1860 and by the Coast Brigade Royal Artillery up to its de-manning
in 1891. The battery is a “D” shaped fortification surrounded
by a dry moat with six 24 pounder guns arranged around the curved perimeter,
firing out over a broad parapet, across the estuary.
The rear of the battery was protected by a rectangular blockhouse or bomb
proof barrack built in the centre of the landward
side. The roof of the blockhouse was defended by two 5.5-inch howitzer
guns for short range shelling. During their stay on the island the soldiers
integrated well with the inhabitants and assisted them at farming duties
in the spring and summertime. The soldiers had a bar at the battery which
was visited frequently by the pilots seeking “water” for the
pilot boat. They also maintained gardens on the land surrounding the battery,
which also contained the Master Gunner's house. At least five of the soldiers
married island girls George Bloomfield married Bridget Ann McMahon on
17/01/1850,Stephen Trowell married Catherine McMahon c 1855 (sister of
Bridget), James Nolan married Ellen Scanlan on 09/08/1853 , Thomas McGowan
married Bridget McCarthy c 1880 and William Pennington married Mary Hehir
1810 30th March
Office of Ordnance: (Freeman's Journal)
The Respective Officers of his Majesty's
Ordinance do hereby give Notice that they will on Monday, the 14th day
of May next, receive sealed Proposals, (In Writing) from Persons as may
be willing to contract for erecting several Works at Tarbert Point: Kilkeran
Point, Scattery Island, Carrick Island, Dunaha, and Kilkradan Point, on
the lower Shannon.
Plans and Specifications may be seen
and further information had, by applying at the Commanding Royal Engineer's
Officer, in Ship-street, in the City of Dublin, from 10 o'clock in the
morning until 3 in the afternoon: or to Captain John Ross Wright, Royal
Engineer, at Limerick.
Security will be required for the performance
of the Contract and no Tender will be received after twelve o'clock on
the above day, nor any attended to, unless the Proposer, or some person
properly authorised on his behalf, be present at the time to name his
Securities, whose assent to become his Securities must be produced in
writing under their own hands.
1831 Monday 9th May (Clare
Thirty of the Royal Artillery left Limerick
on Thursday, for protection of the forts at Tarbert, Scattery, Doonaha
and Kilcredane on the Lower Shannon.
1840 Saturday 11th April (Limerick
The Artillery in charge of the forts on the Lower
Shannon, Tarbert, Scattery &c, were this week relieved by a detachment
of the force from Dublin.
1849 Friday 28th September (Limerick
The Foot Artillery that were stationed in
the following batteries on the lower Shannon under the command of Captain
Hill have been replaced on Tuesday evening by a division under Lieut Holder
and arrived here on Wednesday, and left this morning for Athlone: Tarbert
6 men, Scattery 8, Carrick 6, Kilkerin 6, Dunahae 5, Kilcredane 6.
1873 Friday 30th May (Freeman's
Military Intelligence: Detachments of
the 2nd Battalion 20th (East Devonshire) Regiments will relieve the detachments
of the Royal Artillery, this day, stationed at Tarbert Fort, Kilkerrin,
Carrig Island and Scattery Island.
1889 Saturday 20th July (Kilrush Herald)
The Major General commanding the Munster forces
made his annual inspection of the detachment of the Berkshire Regiment
at Cappa yesterday and was favourably struck with the efficiency and discipline
of the men and the order and cleanliness of their quarters and complemented
Captain Deare the officer commanding: Lieutenant Quin and also Colour
Sergeant Summers. The Forts and Batteries of the Shannon were also inspected.
1889 Saturday 31st August (Kilrush
Herald) The Shannon Forts Hoaxed
On Tuesday night a schooner passing up the Shannon
displayed the pilot signals whereupon forts at Scattery and Carrig Islands
opened rapid fire on her and were answered by the Tarbert and Kilkerrin
batteries nine miles ahead. A great panic prevailed on board the vessel.
The cruisers engaged in the naval manoeuvres were expected to invade the
Shannon and it is stated that the enemy appeared at Loop Head on Tuesday
but immediately fled.
(Oral family information stated that
the Master Gunner on Scattery had suffered from sunstroke as a result
of serving abroad possibly in India and that he imagined that an invasion
had begun and opened up on what he thought was a flotilla of enemy ships
.The frail houses in Scattery suffered from the vibrations of the firing
guns and mortar fell off the walls.)
The Post Office
Senan Scanlan outside the Post Office
1894 Saturday 16th June (Kilrush
Want of a Post Office in the Island of
Scattery. (To the editor of the Kilrush Herald)
It is hard to realise the many inconveniences to which the people of Scattery
Island are exposed owing to the want of some form of direct, postal communication
with the mainland. On many occasions letters of the greatest importance
and demanding immediate attention have lain for several days in the Post
Office in Kilrush-through no fault of the postmaster-and delays thus caused
in the delivery of such have often got the Island people into difficulties
which affect them very seriously . Perhaps it is difficult to perceive
how through delays to their letters these people could be involved in
difficulties, but any person acquainted with their various occupations
can easily understand why such is often the case, for instance Pilots
to whom the news is conveyed of expected arrivals in the Shannon of vessels
from foreign ports, by not receiving in due time the communication containing
this information at times when their boat is undergoing repairs, very
frequently miss boarding those vessels at Loop Head. Thus they lose a
considerable amount of money and become liable to censure by their Harbour
Commissioners into the bargain------.
--------- I remain Sir Faithfully Yours
18th June 1894. “ALTANGI”.
(The soldiers [Coast Brigade Royal
Artillery] from the Battery went to Kilrush every day and would have collected
the mail for the islanders but when the Battery was de-manned in 1891
the letters could remain uncollected for days. In addition the soldiers
who had a saying that “Hail rain or snow the boat must go”
would also bring back messages from Kilrush for the islanders and the
soldier's boat often competed in boat races at the Kilrush Regatta)
1894 Saturday 21st July (Kilrush
A Postal Service for Scattery Island
We are glad to learn that through the
powerful influence of Mr Thomas Sexton M.P, it is possible that the inhabitants
of Scattery Island will obtain the long-needed postal service. An able
letter on the claims of the Islanders to the postal service was published
in these columns recently.
(The Post Office was operated by the McMahon Family)
The Round Tower
The round tower is reputed to be 120 feet high and is unusual
as it has a door at ground level. This is not the original position for
the door. The ancient doorway was about twenty-six feet from the ground
and the place it occupied was built up with good masonry about 1855.
A large breech in the north side apparently made by lightning and a split
extending from top to bottom were evident in 1839.
1917/18 Commissioners of Public Works:
The principal work at Scattery Island
was the securing of the fine Round Tower, the upper part of which had
become rather dangerous, having been fractured for many years, and the
top in danger of falling.
1895 Saturday 16th November (Kilrush
-----------A sum of £44 was awarded
for the erection of a sea wall at Scattery Island, from the Quay to the
new School House.
1924 Tuesday 9th December (Freeman's
Grant for Scattery Island
Kilrush RDC. Have applied to the Government
for a loan of £3,000 to which the Council will add £500 for
the building of a protection wall in Scattery Island. The inhabitants
have to leave their homes owing to the encroachment of the sea.
In the 1950s a sluice was also constructed
to allow drainage from the corcas.
1858 June 18th.
Colonel Commanding Royal Engineers in Ireland, to Clerk of Conservators
of Dublin Fishery District.
With reference to the several communications in which you have taken part
in my office, respecting the War Department Fisheries, I herewith transmit
you a list of the stations in Ireland proposed to be advertised in time
to admit of the tenants commencing next season:and I will thank you for
any suggestions you may be disposed to offer, either on the proposed terms
and conditions of letting,or on any objections that may occur to you as
of sufficient importance to prevent the right of fishing being exercised
by the War Department.
Please to return the enclosed papers.
Signed: Cowper Rose, Colonel Commanding Royal Engineers.
List of Stations in Ireland at which the War Department appear to have
Rights of Fishery (not already let)
Lower Shannon: Limerick Castle Barracks, Kings Island (Limerick), Tarbert,
Scattery Island, Kilcredane.
1864 Tuesday 5th January (Limerick
and Clare Journal (4/01/1864 to 7/01/1864)
Fishery Commissioners Investigation at
Kilrush -Scattery Island Weirs:
“All the weirs at Scattery have been declared illegal and ordered
to be removed.”
Mr McAuliffe: I occupy weirs and I pay rent to one Felix Brennan and one
Kane who are tenants and Mr Kane told me he was the landlord. I took the
shore from Brennan and Pat Griffin and I pay £3 to each of them
and I have leases from them executed in 1861, there is another man between
Brennan and Griffin. I fished this net in '62 on Hanrahan's land; Michael
Hanrahan occupied the land next to my net in 1862.
Felix Brennan: The net was put down in 1861 by McAuliffe and in '62 part
of it was on Hanrahan's land and part on my land but the weir was subsequently
moved a mile from that. I hold my land under lease from Mr Kane by lease
of 31 years and 3 lives.
Michael Griffin: I made a lease to Brennan my son-in-law. I pay to Mr
Kane we never got consent from anyone on the face of the earth to put
down a weir.
Francis Connell: Weir owner said he had consent from Mr Kane.
John Milliken: Mr Connell has a weir outside my place- the land between
the weir and my place is a waste piece belonging to Mr Keane.
Francis Nathanial Kane: I hold Scattery under lease for 31 years. I know
this weir, I remember the years 1833 and 1834, I was living in Kilrush
and this was one of the fishing weirs erected there, it was I that erected
it then and it has continued to fish for salmon ever since. ---- The lease
was produced and examined; this lease was granted by Mr Marrett the son
of Christopher Marrett who took his demise from the Corporation of Limerick.
(This seems to indicate that Francis Keane started leasing Scattery
1879 Certificate for Fixed Engines
Scattery Island Weirs:
Whereas at enquiries held by the inspectors
of Irish Fisheries at Kilrush in the County of Clare on the twenty fifth
& twenty sixth days of April 1877 and at the Office of Irish Fisheries
Dublin on the ninth day of August 1878 ordain Fixed Engines other than
Bay Nets prohibited by the provisions of the Salmon Fishery (Ireland)
Act 1863 were claimed by Marcus Keane of Beechpark Ennis in the County
of Clare, Esquire, so have been in use at the time of the passing of said
Act and that same were erected in pursuance of the Act of the Session
of the Fifth and Sixth years of the Reign of the present Majesty Chapter
One Hundred and Six and Whereas the Queen's Bench Division of the High
Court of Justice in Ireland by order dated the Seventh day of December
1878, decided that said Fixed Engines were legal. Now that the Inspectors
of Irish Fisheries acting under the Powers and Authorities given to us
by the Fisheries(Ireland)Act 1869 being satisfied that such Fixed Engines
were erected in pursuance of the provisions of said Act of the Fifth and
Sixth years of the Reign of the present Majesty do hereby certify that
said Fixed Engines are Legal that they are situated in the River Shannon
off the shores adjacent to the Townland of Scattery Island in the Parish
of Kilrush Barony of Moyarta and County of Clare as more particularly
shown on the Map or Plan annexed hereto that their sizes are as follows;
C Net 300 yards in length, D Net 138 yards in Length and E Net 525 yards
in length such measurements being understood to be such as not to extend
said Fixed Engines beyond the low water mark of ordinary Spring tides
that their descriptions are Stake Nets and that Marcus Keane aforesaid
has the right to erect same in pursuance of such last mentioned provisions.
Given under our hands and seal this 31st day of January 1879.Signed: Thos
F Brady, Jos Hayes and Wm Johnston.
(Attached map referred to above shows
a plan of the three weirs situated at the west of the island Net C the
most westerly near Crusheen Point close to the Fish House Net D in middle
and Net E more easterly near the Sea Wall) Marcus Keane was deemed to
be the legal owner of all three weirs.)
The weirs were operated by the Robert and Margaret McAllen in 1901 and
they lived in the Fish House on the west of the island, an ice house was
also located near the fish house. In 1911 they were operated by Margaret
and her brother John Simpson as Robert died on the 4th June 1911.
Fishermen’s Ice House
The 1842 Ordnance Survey map shows a pier opposite
the castle and proposals were made to upgrade it as the following reference
1881 Commissioners of Public Works, Ireland
Fishery Piers and Harbours. Scattery Island, Lower Shannon, Clare. To
enlarge and improve the present Pier.
The soldiers also had a pier, a pitch pine slipway, together with a winch
and a boathouse for operating their boat at the Battery.
A shop was established on the island by Catherine
Melican (Kitsy Scanlan) and operated from her house (the summerhouse)
at the northern end of the island during the 1930s and 1940s.