Barnatra National School

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School History

History of Barnatra N.S.

We found most of the history of Barnatra N.S. in the following three books:

Barnatra N.S. Centenary Book, 1895-1995
Where the Sun Sets by Fr. Sean Noone
Within the Mullet by Rita Nolan

A long time before 1858 the people of Barnatra and the surrounding areas were concerned because their children were not getting a proper education. School as we know it today did not exist and only and only some children whose parents were interested in learning were taught by 'good scholars'. However, the people in the area felt there was need for a school. Perseverance and insistence finally paid off when, and on 1st of July 1858 Barnatra N.S. opened its doors to 107 children of all ages. It was given the roll number 8061. the school was a one-roomed thatched building with an earthen floor and windows 'with hinges'

Within a few short years a Compulsory Attendance Act was passed so the number of children attending the school more than doubled. In fact at one stage there were 265 children - 144 boys and 121 girls on roll. The one- roomed building couldn't meet the demand so once again the people, along with their manager, Fr. Henry Henison applied for a new school. Their application was successful and on July 10th 1896 a new school building opened under a new roll number which remains to this day. For the past 109 years this school building has prepared children for all walks of life ad past pupils are scattered throughout the world.

These are memories a few past pupils have of their school days in Barnatra N.S.

Nellie says:
'Looking out the back window of the school, I could see my own home and both my parents working in the fields. I made many an imaginary journey home through the school window. It was not that I wanted to be at home so much but that I wanted to be free to ramble about. I envied the freedom of the cows and sheep as they grazed to their hearts' content on the lush green grass in summer. Inside the confines of this building I was like a caged animal and longed to be free'

Mary says:
'As time went by the school became an accepted pattern and even if it had it's black days, it had it's good ones as well. The black days were mainly in Winter when we arrived through the fields and across the strand, sometimes barefooted and other times with sodden boots, and had to sit in the freezing cold with a harsh wind whipping in under the door and up through the damp earthen floor. I remember well the days when the whole building groaned and creaked when the thatched roof and rattling windows and black cobweb-draped rafters were tested to the last by the elements'.

Paddy says:
'In Summer at lunch time a number of us would take our slice of bread (and butter) if available and head for
the strand at the rear of t he school building. We would paddle in the cannel all the way out to the waters edge at Gub na gCionar, Inver. Eventually, someone would look back to the school house and would see the bald white head of the master waving a white hanky frantically to get us to return to class. I don't remember being punished for these escapades'.

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