The Clohanes - Carnaun Link by Aideen Shanahan


Having been involved in the Centenary Celebrations of my own National School, I am delighted to be partaking in the Centenary Celebrations of National School. When I first arrived in Carnaun in September 1989, I learnt that the school was to celebrate its 100th birthday in 1991. This was indeed a coincidence as four weeks previously, Clohanes National School where my grandparents, parents and myself had received our primary education, was at the height of its celebrations. Clohanes National School is a two teacher school in the parish of Doonbeg in West Clare and for the past one hundred and two years has been the focal point of that area of the parish. Were it not for the school, Clohanes would be just another townland in a county parish. As one speaker at the celebrations said: “Clohanes is Clohanes because of Clohanes National School”. Similarly, Carnaun is Carnaun because of Carnaun National School.

My former school has fewer than twenty five families on the rolls and some felt that the organising committee had undertaken too ambitious a programme lasting over three days and comprising of concelebrated Mass, a marquee with bar facilities and a fundraising draw. The dream of the committee was realised however, as the celebrations were a tremendous success. That success has to be contributed to the hardworking members of the committee who devoted their time so freely and willingly throughout the year to make the occasion possible and the community as a whole backed the venture.

People might ask what is the worth of such a celebration. In our case, the initial aim was to raise funds for the school but as time progressed it became something far more important. The interest and involvement of past pupils who had moved away from Clohanes was evident and very gratifying to the dedicated committee and gave them much encouragement throughout the year. The celebration as a whole was a symbol of the entire community working together to achieve something very worthwhile. .

For past pupils who had travelled from other parishes, counties and countries, the three day event was delightful. They were given the opportunity to be re-united with former classmates, friends and teachers. Many friendships were renewed, memories recalled, and stories re-told. So successful was the event that a similar reunion is being talked about when the school is 125 years old. In the meantime, a past pupils union is being set up to help the school in any way possible.

Having spent two years in Carnaun National School and having got to know the families in the area, I feel that they as a community are capable of surpassing all we achieved. But what of Carnaun National School in the next century? There are different thoughts on the value of small country schools nowadays. In spite of the views of politicians that it would be more beneficial to amalgamate smaller schools, we must not allow this to happen. When an area loses its school, it loses its identity. For parents it is reassuring to know that they are sending their children out to the local school, where many of them too were educated, to teachers whom they know and trust, teachers who are interested in their children and who know them all by name.

For me personally, Carnaun will forever figure very much in my mind since it was here I began my teaching career. Long may the country schools of Ireland live and Carnaun amongst them.

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