Stokane National School Reunion

Memories of Stokane, 1975 – 1979.

by Damien McHale.

When I was asked to write a little about my recollections of Stokane, immediately memories of music, sport and real practical training for the teaching profession came to mind. Having just completed my training I took up my first teaching post as Principal of Stokane National School on 1st July, 1975. I remember feeling like a four-year-old just beginning school, excited and more than a little worried. I met Mr. Murphy, N.T., before I began and he filled me on on the names of local families, children, villages etc. He also imparted some advice to me which obviously came from many years in the classroom.

After a few weeks I had begun to settle in well and this was due in no small way to Mrs. Anna Bourke, N.T. I found Anna to be not just a brilliant teacher, but also a very kind and understanding lady who helped me in many ways, both in the administration of the school and in teaching methods in my first year in Stokane. We taught together for five years, and during that time we never even has a minor disagreement. When I look back now I know this was due to Anna’s tolerance of an immature young teacher and her ability to give herself totally to the education of the children at all times.

By September, 1975, I had met all the parents of the area and I felt greatly encouraged and accepted by the genuine warm welcome they gave me. I found the parents to be genuinely interested in their children’s education and very supportive of any new idea the teacher might have for the school. 1 will always remember St. Patrick’s Day 1976, the day the Stokane School Band performed for the first time outside Castleconnor Church. I think practically every child in the school was involved in either carrying a flag, playing drums, recorder or accordion that day. Of course that was probably the day it dawned on the parents, the musical ability of their children. Soon a band committee of parents was formed and mothers enthusiastically undertook to buy materials and make band uniforms. The fathers of course helped organise the “famous” school socials to raise funds for the purchase of instruments and indeed for school funds in general. In the years that followed we had many an outing with the band to either fleadhanna, parades, or football matches. I remember particularly with pride a breezy afternoon in Ballinrobe at the Connacht Fleadh when the Stokane band was awarded third place in Connacht.

In 1977 on St. Patrick’s Day the band played in Ballina and on that day the now famous Stokane float took to the road for the first time. During the last twelve years it has been my pleasure to see this participation continue, long may it live.

It was my pleasure and privilege to have Very Rev. Canon Thomas Clarke, R.I.P. as Manager of Stokane for four years. He called diligently to the school every week and was always conscious of both teachers’ and pupils’ needs. He was always willing to help with religious instruction as was indeed Very Rev. Fr. Martin Halloran who was Manager of the school from 1978.

I could write much more about my happy memories of Stokane, such as having the senior boys help me blow the turf fire on a winter’s morning or counting the black bruises on my legs after lunchtime football during a summer’s day but there is no need to as I have numerous opportunities to talk about the old times with my many friends both parents and past pupils in the area. Long may our friendship last.

Finally I would like to finish with my only sad memories of Stokane. I was only in the school for a number of months when the teachers and pupils attended the funeral of one of it’s pupils, Padraig Swift. I never knew Padraig, but I had heard many lovely things about him. Approximately six months after leaving Stokane, while in Dublin, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of Michael Swift. I remember Michael as a beautiful quiet boy. He enjoyed the band and the music in Stokane, and no doubt himself and his brother now enjoy the heavenly singing of the angels with God.

In iothlam De go raibh a n-anamacha oga go deo”.

Best wishes to Stokane National School, from —



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