Lack School - 1863 to 1975

A History of the School and its Pupils
by James Hehir


11. Employment in the Public Service

The standard of education improved dramatically over the life of the school. This was brought about by a number of reasons:

The crowded primary school was as far as almost all pupils got in education. They would then spend a year or two helping at home or on the farm followed by a one-way ticket to England, America or Australia. An entire class may have emigrated within a few years. For those who remained, the aspirations were to inherit a small farm or marry locally.

On leaving Lack school the prospects of obtaining further education posed a great problem. The nearest second level schools were in Ennis or Kilrush, and without a daily transport service, students would have no option but to obtain accommodation in the school or town. The cost of accommodation, school fees and books was prohibitive at the time but tended to ease with the ongoing improvement in household incomes, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s.

West view of the school in 1984

West view of the school in 1984

All was to change in the 1960s with the building of a Vocational School in Kildysart in September 1963, the opening of a secondary school at the Salesians Convent, Cahiracon, and the introduction of free second level education.
Alas, these developments came too late for all but a few of Lack school's pupils. Of the 1175 pupils that registered only 60 fell into the free education era.

Before the introduction of free education only very limited numbers of pupils received any second level education. It led to employment in the limited areas that offered opportunity. They included the health service, civil and local authority service and teaching. In addition, those with vocations entered the various religious communities. A surprising feature is the fact that all of the early pupils to receive secondary education were female. There is an 18-year gap between the first female and the first male to sit the Leaving Certificate.

As the subject of this history is education it would not be complete without putting on record the small number of our more fortunate past pupils who through additional education obtained employment in these services. In all they comprise of only 78 pupils, or 7%, of all registrations. The public service accounts for 31, teaching 19, the health service 16 and the church 12 past pupils.