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History Lives on in School Registers

Clare People Weekender, Friday, 10th November 2006

The old school registers of Ennis National School were formally handed over to county librarian, Noel Crowley, at a special ceremony in the school on Wednesday night.

An online edition of the school registers was also launched at the ceremony. Information from the first five registers covering the years 1898-1952 was uploaded into database form last summer. This involved the input of 23,000 pieces of data and these are now available online at the school website www.ennisns.ie and at the Clare Library website www.clarelibrary.ie.

The registers reflect the social history of Ennis - showing 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 II, the names of evacuees from England appear on the rolls while in the late 40s and 50s, children were stuck of the 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.

Wednesday night's ceremony was attended by members of three generations of the Cronin family from the market.

Other interesting parties found in the registers include the Hogans and the Gordons. The Hogans were children of former Ceann Comhairle Patrick Hogan, who was one of the longest serving TDs in the Dail, with 39 years 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 Hogan 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.

Also to be found in 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.

Also of interest are the selection of notes from parents which were found in among the pages of the registers. These range from a note explaining to the principal that 'Johnny would have been at school this week only that he's got no shoes - the soals [sic] fell of them' to asking him to excuse Tony as 'he has to go to the clinic with his kidneys'.

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