Scattery Island Schoolhouse

Scattery Island Schoolhouse
Michael Aidan Donnellan & Limerick Leader

By 1869, the population of Scattery Island had grown and the education of the Island’s children became a concern for the parish priest at the time. Up to this point education on the Island, reputedly occurred in a hedge school, and the finest of scholars emerged from such. However, there was a growing need for a more formal educational establishment, so around this time a formal school was established on the Island. The school consisted of a room rented in the village from Michael Hanrahan, up until 1896 when Scattery Island National School was custom built at the northern side of the pier.

The new schoolhouse comprised of a main classroom, a caproom (smaller room inside the main door, used by the younger infant classes) and a coalhouse. The main classroom had a fireplace, which was fuelled by turf brought in by the pupils, a long blackboard and four large windows. The first teacher in this schoolhouse was John Brennan, a native of the Island, he was the first trained teacher to work on Scattery Island, and he taught for more than ten years at the school. This brought stability to the school, as in previous years teachers tended to resign from teaching on Scattery as they did not live on the Island and this made a long term committment to teaching at the school somewhat difficult.

When John Brennan resigned in 1905, it was not easy to find a replacement as there was no dwelling house for a teacher to stay in on the Island and travel to and from the Island to teach was arduous on a daily basis. Teachers on the Island after this time included, Elizabeth Kelly, Francis V. Airey, Michael Cunningham (taught at the school for approx twelve years), Eddie Naughton, William Hayes, Nelly O’ Connor, Mrs. Connolly, Peadar O’ Loughlin, and finally Miss Nora Culligan of Knock Co. Clare. Nora Culligan was the last teacher on the Island, appointed in 1935 and remained as principal there until 1948. All the teachers provided a fine education to the children of Scattery Island, and moved on due to the difficulties of teaching in an Island school and accessing  it, as well as fluctuations in salary.

Miss Nora Culligan resided with the Melican family while she was the school’s principal and adapted wonderfully to Island life, she became one with the native Islanders and a skilled woman at the oar.

In the 1940’s a number of factors led to the demise of the schoolhouse, among which was the location of the Pilot house at Cappa, Kilrush. This meant, that many of the families had to relocate to Kilrush, as many of the men were Shannon Estuary Pilots, and for practical reasons had to leave the Island. Their children, therefore, had to leave the Island’s school, to attend school in Kilrush. As the number of pupils attending Scattery Island School dwindled, Miss Nora Culligan eventually had to resign her position at the school. It was officially closed in 1948, having been established some eighty years previously.



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