Stokane National School Reunion

Memories of the past twenty years in

Stokane School

By Anna Bourke

It was a beautiful autumn morning on September 1st, 1969, when I first came to Stokane National School. Having taught in a one-teacher school in the Erris area I found the school building itself to be familiar in size and appearance. Mr. Murphy, the Principal teacher at the time, arrived in his Volkswagon car bearing the true image of the “Village Schoolmaster”. Next to arrive was Michael James Boland, R.I.P., with a van-load of children, while others came strolling down the road on foot. Needless to say I was a little apprehensive at first entering the school. I had just come to live in the parish two weeks previously so for me it was a whole new experience. However, the friendly and somewhat shy manner of the children put me at ease. As the days passed I found the children to be pleasant, agreeable, intelligent and having a great sense of humour. Later on, meeting the parents I discovered that the children were reflecting the good homes from which they came.

With the introduction of the new curriculum the talents of these children seemed to come to light. In 1975 Damien McHale, a young energetic teacher, took over as Principal. His love of football brought out the best in a number of the senior boys. Years later some of these boys told me how they often missed the ball and instead landed a kick at Damien’s ankles. Of course it was all in good fun and the only way they could get even with him after one of those bad mornings, when they did not know their spellings or Irish grammar. Still to this day Damien is remembered as one of their favourite teachers.

We found that the children were very interested in music and singing. They all had their favourite “number one” but “A Mother’s love is a blessing” seemed to break all records. Damien and myself decided to change the tempo.

Recorders were purchased, marching tunes were learned and St. Patrick’s Day in 1977 saw the birth of Stokane School Band. Dressed in navy and white with a green sash and a borrowed basedrum, the bank made it’s first appearance outside Castleconnor Church. I am glad to say that the children of Stokane are still marching to the sound of the drums and long may they continue to do so. In those days we had over seventy pupils on roll. Emigration and smaller family numbers have robbed us of a number of pupils. Today we have fifty pupils on roil.

The parents of the seventies and eighties fought hard to retain their school in spite of the threat of amalgamation. When funds were low, men, women and children gave their time and energy to painting, repairing and cleaning the school.

The arrival of Vincent McMahon as Principal in 1980 brought about more changes. A new football field was purchased from the late Walter Tully, R.I.P. More and more football boots appeared while more boys took to the field. The girls of the eighties were introduced to the skills of “mini bail” by the newly appointed Second Assistant Teacher, Bertha Munnelly. Camogie was later introduced by Vincent McMahon. A number of pupils seemed to have natural ability in this game and some have made a name for themselves by playing in Croke Park.

Down through the years the Stokane parents have shown their deep interest in Irish heritage by the number of winning floats they have entered in the St. Patrick’s Day parades. In spite of the influence of modem culture they are proud to identify with the past, keeping alive their old traditions. I am glad to be associated with them in celebrating their centenary.

A special word of thanks to all the school managers during my time e.g. Canon Thomas Clarke (R.I.P.), Canon Martin Halloran and especially Fr. John George McHale, the present Manager whose hard work and perseverance have turned our hundred-year-old school into a modern-day building, thus making it all possible for us to celebrate our centenary.


Moments in time


Past Pupils