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Ennis NS Register Goes Live

Clare Champion, Friday, 10th November 2006

It may have only been launched this week, but Ennis NS Old Registers Online has already had its first success story. Launched on Wednesday, the facility on the Ennis National School website, and at the Clare Library website, contains information of the first five registers of the school from the years 1898 to 1952 in searchable form.

The details were uploaded onto a database over the summer, involving the input of 23,000 pieces of data.

"We have already had a success story with this project. A lady rang from England last week trying to ascertain whether her grandfather had been a pupil in the 1930s. Using the database we were able to give her his details within two minutes. She was stunned", said teacher at the school, Fiona de Buitléir.

Also at the launch night, the old school registers were handed over to the County Librarian, Noel Crowley. They will be archived in the local studies library in the Manse in Ennis and will be available for consultation by those doing historical or genealogical research.

"In this way, these valuable historical documents will be preserved, in contrast to the fate of similar registers in other areas found rotting in the ruins of derelict schools and houses and dumped in haybarns", said Ms. de Buitléir.

Assisting principal Garry Stack with the presentation of the registers were members of three generations of the Cronin family from the Market. The names of five Cronins - James, John, Patrick, Joseph and Martin appear in register one and five more - Bernard, Fred, Louis, twins Paul and Peter appear in register two. All brothers, the family is still represented among the pupils of Ennis NS today.

Also present were some past pupils, now in their seventies, eighties and nineties, who have memories of a very different Ennis National School and a very different Ennis from the one we have today.

Other interesting parties found in the registers include the Hogans and the Gordons. The Hogans were children of former Ceann Comhairle Patrick Hogan, one of the longest serving TDs in the Dail, with 39 years and eight months of service. These children were grand-children of John Philip Mackey, first principal of Ennis NS, who was Patrick Hogan's father-in-law. Members of the family still live in the town today.

The Gordon boys were the children of Sean 'Johnny' Gordon, second principal of Ennis NS. Brendan became a teacher and joined the staff of Ennis NS in 1938. John went on to become an Archbishop and was Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand, South Africa, Lesotho, India and the Netherlands at various times. He is buried at Drumcliffe cemetery with his parents.

Also to be found on the registers are the names of three young volunteers of the Clare Mid Brigade who were executed in the Home Barracks, Ennis in 1922. They were Patrick Mahony (aged 24), Christopher Quinn (aged 18) and William O'Shaughnessy (aged 18). The very first student to register in Ennis National School in 1898 was Patrick McCallan from Doora. His brother Michael also registered and the search for that family continues.

"If anyone can provide information about them, we invite them to contact the school", said Ms. de Buitléir.

She explained the significance of the registers saying, "In many ways they can be viewed as a mirror of the social history of Ennis. They show us what the commnon 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 II 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".

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