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Ennis 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.

  1. 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!

  2. 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.)

  3. Some blank spaces appear in the online registers - these were left blank in the original register.

  4. 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 contributions.

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

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