Knockanean - The Heart of Doora/Barefield

Clare Champion, Friday, 19th November 1999

Knockanean National School is situated about two miles from Ennis in the heart of the Doora/Barefield parish.

In the townland of Knockanean, the first record of a National School goes back to 1824. Fifty-eight boys and twenty-six girls attended the school. This school closed down in 1837 and no remains of the school are to be seen today. Around 1840 another school was built. In the famine times, Indian meal was brought by boat into Clarecastle and the school was used to store the meal and it was distributed to the local people.

The first school to be built under the State Scheme was in 1860-'61. This was built by Fr. S. Vaughan, P.P., completely by subscriptions from the parishioners. It had two rooms - one for male and one for female pupils. Both schools were independent but they amalgamated in July 1877. In 1949, the old school closed and the present Knockanean School was built. The record books that exist in Knockanean School are very interesting and date back to 1863. The first entrants were five boys and their ages range from ten to fourteen years.

From 1896-1930 the school had an average of sixty pupils on roll. By 1960 the number had dropped to thirty-nine and the school was in danger of closing. By 1970 numbers began to increase and this has continued. Over the last number of years a basketball court and a playing field have been developed. In 1997 a new three-classroom extension was opened and the old school was converted to an assembly hall.  Today, Knockanean School is a five-teacher school with over 130 pupils.

On the sporting front, 1999 was a great year for the school. Two boys, Trevor Lee and Ian Colleran, represented Clare in the Primary game.  Knockanean girls won the County seven-a-side football for the first time. Two of the girls, Niamh Keane and Sarah Hoey (sister of Ger and David Hoey), went on to play in Croke Park on the day of the All-Ireland football final.

It was a truly great honour for the school when Lorcan Hassett, Captain of the Doora-Barefield team, arrived with the All-Ireland Club Trophy accompanied by the team. Lorcan is a past pupil of the school and while in Primary School he was just as competitive as he is now.

Other members of the team with strong school connections are Colm Mullan and James Carolan, who played both hurling and football for the school. Ciaran O'Neill got a great reception as his son Alan and daughter Orla are in the Junior section. Another past pupil, Martin Brooks, is on the panel this year.

Niall O'Donnell, Amy Nix, Ciara Fahey and
Dylan Tynan O'Mahoney, 2nd class, enjoying
themselves at Knockanean N.S.
Aaron Nugent at work in Junior infants.

Photographs by Eamon Ward, Clare Champion.

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