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On September 17th 1917, the German army captured the Russian port of Riga and Andy Lambe started in the Heath school. His grandchildren are in the school today.

"I started school during World War I but, as far as I can remember, that didn't have any effect on my education. I walked to school and during the Summer I often walked barefoot. There was only one classroom in the school and about twenty children. Two teachers, Mr and Mrs Bates, taught in this room. There was one fireplace and the children would take it in turns to bring in sods of turf. The classroom was very plain, with only one map of Ireland on the wall. There were long desks with three inkwells in them. We would write with pens with a sharp nib which we dipped into the ink.

If we were bold we got four slaps of a stick on each hand. We did many subjects such as English, Maths, History, Geography and a lot of Catechism. We did only a small amount of Irish. We didn't get much homework; only a few Catechism questions or spellings. The priest, Fr Monahan, came out to the school nearly every day on a motorbike. He would ask us questions about Catechism. When we were making Confirmation or First Holy Communion we had to learn all our Catechism off by heart.

At lunchtime the boys played football and the girls skipped or played football as well. We got ten minutes for Break and thirty minutes for Lunch. The boys wore caps, shirts and short trousers. If it was cold they wore pullovers as well. The girls wore long dresses down to their ankles."

Andy Lambe (R.I.P. April 3rd, 2000)

May 12th 1930. What was going through Miss Bella Madden's mind as she cycled the twelve miles to school? The recent arrest of Mahatma Gandhi by the British? The terrible earthquake in Burma that had killed 6,000 people?

"I have been told that I attended the Heath school from 1929 (the year my father retired and my mother took over as Principal) but I wasn't officially enrolled until May 12th, 1930. Miss Madden was in charge of the Junior Division (Babies to Third Class), but there was no actual division between the two sections of the classroom. The folding doors were added much later.

We wrote on slates and, later on, Millboards with chalk. For sums we used ball frames. The word abacus was not used. Weather seems to have been important. Wet days were dreary and very uncomfortable and long sunny days were bliss. At lunch time we ate our lunch in the shelter of the buttresses in the front of the building, or on the way to the playground where the boys went to the right of the path and the girls to the left. Just like in the chapel!

Games were never very structured. 'Tip and Tig' and 'Beds' were played, and I remember Rounders being introduced. Races were run and I was always last. In good weather we got a mid-morning break and we were let out to the old graveyard, where we sat and played on the flat tombstones.

We had 'Round the Blackboard' for oral work and 'Into the Desks' for written work following on the previous lesson. My mother rang a bell on the hour and half-hour, and the classes changed over without any fuss. Visitors to the school were a welcome break for us and, provided we stayed reasonably quiet, all was well. Father William Monahan came every week on a big motor-cycle, all dressed up in suitable gear complete with goggles. The School Attendance Officer also visited regularly. There were few attendance problems apart from the seasonal work of turnip-snagging and beet-thinning for which the boys were often kept home.

Other callers were travelling salesmen, who arrived from the bus carrying heavy suitcases of books which they would display for the teachers. Sometimes we had Lantern Shows and, for a while, a Mr Dunne came to the school to teach Irish Dancing."

Una Fitzpatrick (formerly Bates)

Four days after Jimmy Lalor started school on May 4th1942, the Americans and Japanese fought a fierce air and naval battle in the Coral Sea.

"I always had to set and light the fire each morning before the Principal arrived. Pupils gathered burnt furze on the Heath and it was used to start the fires. Even though there was a fire in both classrooms, the school was very cold unless you were sitting at the top of the class.

Our lunch consisted of home-made bread and butter, an odd time with jam. Loaf bread was a treat. We ate this on the road outside the school. In summertime, many of us had apples from our own gardens and we would share them with our pals. There was no drinking water in the school and, in the summer, especially after playing games, this was pure torture.

While football has always been traditional on the Heath, we played hurling during my years in school. The playground was where the present one is, but it was only half its size. It was all hills and hollows. We would often have competitions jumping from hill to hollow. We also had a sort of cross-country racing through the furze.

Going home was tricky at times. There were always geese and a gander on the open Heath. They were left out to graze and we were always afraid of them, especially the gander who would often attack and bite."

James Lalor

Bobby Young started in the Heath school on April 2nd 1951.The same month, war was raging in Korea and 'The African Queen' won an Oscar for Best Movie.

"I remember that a small plane landed on the Heath near the pump lane. At lunch-time a few of us decided to go and investigate and by the time we returned the bell had long gone. I still recall the three 'whoppers' we each got for our escapade. Normally lunch-time was spent playing football or playing 'jail' in the walls of an unfinished house. In the earlier years, I recall collecting hen eggs in the hedges. We used to bring them into Dunne's shop and we would be rewarded with a couple of sweets out of a big can. I can assure you there was many a hen shifted from her nest long before she ever got around to laying an egg!

The main aim of every pupil (and teacher) at the time was to pass the Primary Certificate. Not that many went on to secondary school, but, for those who did intend doing so, there was an examination for a scholarship which covered the fees. The visit of the Inspector was another annual event. He and the Principal would carry on their conversation as Gaeilge. They spoke so fast I could never make out how they understood each other."

Bobby Young

Seamus McGrath started school on September 2nd 1964. That evening the Beatles performed before 13,000 people in Philadelphia.

"The Principal had a cane with one end of it burnt. Though seldom used, the sight of it was enough the ensure respect. He also took us for football. He had a great love for it. There were no competitions between schools in those days. We would pick different captains each week and they would pick their own teams. I don't remember anyone having new football boots. We just got an old pair from someone. When I started playing, we had the heavy leather ball with the internal bladder and a laced neck. When it got wet it weighed a ton.

Other games we played in school were 'Catching', 'Cowboys and Indians', 'Queenie-I-O Who Has The Ball?', and 'Hopscotch'. I also recall that there was a school shop where we could buy copies, pencils, rulers, blotting paper, nibs, and other necessities. A man called to the school about every two months to stock the shop.

One of the biggest fads in the school was the collection of Batman cards. Everybody had them, and we were all swapping, trying to get the complete set. Also there were badges of the soccer clubs in England and Scotland. These came with petrol from Esso and the hardest one to get was Kilmarnock.

After school, we spent many a day chasing the goats that roamed the Heath. They often visited the school. The glory of Puck was amazing with his long curved horns and lovely mane. These were fabulous animals. I can still hear the crunch as their heads clashed and their horns entwined as they battled outside the school gate."

Seamus McGrath