National School Registers 1898-1952
Explanatory Notes by Ms Fíona
de Buitléir, Ennis National School.
The first five registers of Ennis National School were
entered into databases during the summer of 2006, and cover the years
1898 – 1952. It was a challenging if somewhat laborious task, but
many interesting things were revealed in the process. In many ways, the
registers can be viewed as a mirror of the social history of Ennis. They
show us what the common occupations were at the turn of the 20th century
and how these changed as the decades went by. They show children being
struck off the roll due to severe illness, as outbreaks of tuberculosis
and diphtheria struck the town. During World War ll, we can see the names
of evacuees from England appearing on rolls. In the late 40s and 50s,
we see children being struck off rolls as families emigrated to England
and the USA. Each change in the social and economic life of Ennis left
its mark on the school’s registers.
The change with the greatest impact on the job of transcribing
the registers was the arrival of Saorstát Éireann
(the Irish Republic). This came into effect in Register 3 which
covers 1910-1923. From then on, the registers were completed in
Irish. We have attempted to translate the names back into English
for the benefit of Ennis family descendants in the USA, Australia,
etc., who are trying to research their genealogy via the internet.
However, we must confess that there may be inaccuracies here. In
many cases, it appears that the person who originally completed
the registers simply created an Irish version of the name as best
he could. In the case of non-standard surnames, we have had to guess
at the translation in some instances, based on our knowledge of
Ennis family names, and on the memories of some of our (very) senior
past pupils. In other cases, it was difficult to decipher the handwriting,
particularly the old Irish script, and this may again have caused
errors in transcription.
After much deliberation, it was decided to translate all the Irish
first- names into English. Thus, for example, Seán appears
here as John, even though he may have actually been called Seán.
We had no means of knowing which version was in use. Thus, if you
find an entry which resembles the person you are seeking in all
details but this, there is a good chance that it actually is
the one you want.
Another factor to consider is that there may be a number of translations
for a name. For example, John can be called Seán or Eoin
in Irish. Conversely, Eoin may be translated into English as John
or as Owen. “Eoin” may also be spelt Eoghan. The same
principle applies to surnames, both in Irish and in English. Remember
also that names were often changed, whether by accident or design,
when a family emigrated to another country. Thus, the family name
used in America, Australia, etc., may be slightly, or even significantly,
different from the form used in Ireland. Some detective work, and
a little imagination, may be needed to find your ancestors!
For those unfamiliar with the Irish education system, pupils generally
spend eight years at primary school. They begin in Junior Infants,
then Senior Infants, followed by First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth,
and Sixth classes. At one time there was also a seventh class but
these have been phased out. They then proceed to second level schools,
typically around age 12 or 13.
However, in the time of registers 1 – 5, few pupils progressed
to second level education. Instead, many remained at primary school
until they were ready to go out to work. This meant that they may
have spent more than one year in a particular class level. Indeed
some appear to have spent 3 or 4 years in the Infant classes. Thus,
in order to correctly interpret the registers, it is sometimes necessary
to understand the cultural context in which they were set. Nowadays,
education in Ireland is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16.
(Note: A factor which often confuses genealogical researchers from
overseas was the former Irish tradition of calling a later-born
child after a sibling who died in infancy. Thus, for example, if
an infant named Mary died in 1898 aged 15 months, her sister born
in 1904 might again be named Mary. This tradition no longer exists.)
Some blank spaces appear in the online registers - these were
left blank in the original register.
- In the ‘Religion’ field, the following abbreviations
have been used:
RC = Roman Catholic
PR = Presbyterian
EC = Established Church
This project was made possible by the assistance of a number of people.
We would like to thank the staff of Clare Libraries for their support,
especially Noel Crowley, Maureen Comber and Anthony Edwards. Garry Stack,
principal of Ennis N.S., was a great souce of knowledge about all Ennis
‘townie’ matters. Domhnall MacMathúna of Ennis NS was
a great resource in terms of Irish placenames and surnames. Finally, some
of our very senior past pupils gave us insider information
which only they could have provided - a very big thank you to Tony and
Stevie Kenny, Alfred Tuohy, and Jim O’Brien for their invaluable
If you find an error where you are certain of the correct version, we
would be delighted to hear from you. We would like the register data to
be useful and to be as accurate as possible. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org