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Garrafrauns National School
One of the earliest sites of an educational establishment in the Garrafrauns area was at a thatched barn on the homestead of the Kilgarriff family at the edge of the village on the Dunmore road. This property was later owned by Jack and Katie Finnegan nee Kilgarriff.  This establishment probably wasn't an official centre of education.Old School at FinnegansOld School at Finnegans

Old School at Finnegan'

Folklore Commission records tell us "that the building was about 34 foot long by 12 foot wide and 9 foot high. It had one door, one 4 paned window at the front and a smaller sized one at the western side. The floor was made of clay and the roof thatched. Each pupil had to pay the teacher 1 penny per week for education. The greater number of pupils the more money the teacher earned. He was also obliged to carry one sod of turf daily for the fire. This burnt at the corner of the room and the smoke went out through a hole in the roof. The desks were made of sally rods woven together with boards left on top of them."
The oldest known teacher in the Garrafrauns School was a Mr. Patrick Godfrey. He was a bewhiskered gentleman and like most teachers of his time was of limited means. He resided in a "bothan" in Castle Street in Dunmore and walked to and from Garrafrauns daily carrying his books in a leather strap. It was reported that the master had no watch or clock to tell the time of day. He used the sun as his timepiece. When it shone through the front window it was time for lunch break and when it shone through the window on the gable it was time to go home.  
Records show that an official application was made to the Commissioners of Education in Dublin by the Parish Priest of Dunmore Canon McEvilly for a payment of teacher’s salary and a supply of books. The application form dated 1/1/1863 tells us that the school at Garrafrauns was established on April 1863 and catered for 24 families. The teacher mentioned was Patrick Godfrey aged 22 and he paid rent of £2.10.00 to the local landlord. The building constructed of stone and mortar was in a fair state of repair was erected using local funds. Dimensions of the thatched one-roomed building were 24 feet long, 13 feet wide and 8 feet high. A second application for funds by Reverend P.Duffy was forwarded on 28/11/1863.
        The application form also states that the school furniture consisted of 5 forms, 2 desks and 1 teacher’s desk. 35 males and females attended daily from 10 o’clock to 3 o’clock. The school had no books in particular except for some spelling books and some boards. In 1864 an annual salary of £15 was granted to Mr. Godfrey as he was classed as a Grade 3 teacher.
     Garrafrauns NS built  1886Garrafrauns NS built 1886   In 1885 an application for salary was forwarded for Work mistress Mary Nestor. She worked 2 hours a day, 5 days a week teaching hemming, sewing, button hole making, gathering, tucking, etc. The school had now a work table and a press and the number of pupils attending was now 51.
        By April 1868 the number on rolls had increased to 175 and an application for a salary for the Assistant Mary Pottinger aged 17 was forwarded to the Commissioners. The report on Ms. Pottinger states that she was qualified as a probationer and could teach plain sewing and knitting. Despite a poor report from the inspector who stated that” she showed considerable insubordination when refusing to teach infant classes” the application for payment of her salary of £14 was granted.    
        In 1871 the school was closed for 4 months due to the outbreak of fever in the area. Also in that same year Miss Bridget Kealy was appointed as assistant. In 1877 the appointment of Miss Murray as a permanent assistant was refused but she was recognised as a temporary assistant in the following year.
The school building was now in a poor state of repair and unfit for educational use. In a letter dated 10/1/1879 it was stated that the school would be “struck off roll unless a suitable house is provided before September 1879.” It took almost 8 years for a site to be identified and a new schoolhouse be constructed.
Patrick Godfrey retained the role as Principal Teacher until 30th June 1887, a time corresponding with the opening of a new school in Garrafrauns village. Even though he was only 47 years old he felt it necessary to retire on grounds of ill-health. In his letter to the Board of Education he requested that he be granted a pension on his retirement. His application for a pension was endorsed by the P.P. Canon McEvilly who stated that “his retiring would be for the benefit of Education”      
A Mrs. Mannion who resided in Quinaltagh taught Catechism here after Mass on Sundays. Later she and her husband Luke taught in Shanballymore.
The old school was a meeting place for the Land League as the agitation was a result of local evictions in Quinaltagh. Landlords, the Burkes of "Oldtown" near Irishtown had trebled the rents of their tenants. BenchmarkBenchmarkThe tenants objected to the payment of these "rack" rents and were evicted. Membership of the Land League was set at 5 shillings a year. Members known locally were Mike O'Loughlin of Gortnagoyne, James Gildea and Mike Mannion of Cloondalgan, Willie Mullarkey of Quinaltagh, and Peter Quinn of Darrary.
    An interesting historical feature in a sappers stone in the southern corner of the building. Markings like this are in Ogham writing..A benchmark was carved into a stone when the Ordinance Survey began mapping Ireland in 1825. Survey benchmark indicated a known height above sea-level.
 Two other schools are mentioned in the Garrafrauns area.
An unnamed extract from the Folklore Collection tell us about a school at Kinmacnella.
About ninety years ago, all the neighbouring people of my village attended an old school which was built about one hundred yards off the main road between Dunmore and Irishtown. It was an old building with a thatched roof, one door and two small windows.
It was built on the top of a hill overlooking the Clare river. It was poorly furnished and they spread straw on the grass for a floor. A great number of children attended the school and they had to pay dear for their education. The front was facing Irishtown and its back towards our village. It  had no desks or seats in those days and on such occasions like in all schools they fixed sods of turf around the floor and they served as seats for the children."
 In 1886 the first state school was built at the rear of the Catholic Church on the Cloonfad road north of the village. The site for the new building was leased from the local landlord Richard Kirwan and the appointed trustees were the Archbishop of Tuam, Most Reverend John McEvilly, Rev. Jeremiah McEvilly, PP. and Thomas Fahy of Dunmore. The contractor was Flec Fleming a well known mason from Shanballymore.
 Initially just two classrooms were built and the pupils were segregated into the Boys side and Girls side. Both sides operated as distinct schools with their own principals who taught all classes from infants to sixth. In 1896 two junior rooms were constructed to the front as well as a teacher’s residence. The playgrounds were covered with a layer of sandy gravel. Dry toilets also known as the “office” and a turf shed were at the rear of each school. The only means of heat in wintertime was an open fire at the front of each classroom. So severe was the cold that the bottles of milk brought by the children were often lined along the front of the fire to take the chill off. Each family was requested to bring a cart of turf annually. Those that did not own a bog could donate a bag of coal in lieu. There was no electricity connection to the school until 1968. From its inception the local National school was always the polling station for local and general elections.
Michael Timoney was appointed the first head master of the boys school and lodged at Gilligans, now Dooley's. Depending on results he was to receive a salary of £44 per annum.  The subjects examined were book-keeping, agriculture, spellings book, lesson book, geometry, measuration and algebra. Shortly afterwards he married Honoria (Nora) Burke of Dunblaney who became principal of the girls’ school. Michael Timoney died at a young age leaving his wife and 6 small children. On the death of her husband Honoria remarried Mr. Patrick Touhy of Cloonfane. The Timoney/Touhy family took up residence in the newly constructed School residence in 1896. Her daughter Nora became principal of the girls’ school in 1923. She was originally married to Mr. Healy but after his death she remarried and was affectionately known as Bapsy Kenny.
Teacher's Residence Teacher's Residence Michael Timoney’s successor was Pat Staunton of Church Street Dunmore. Like most people of his time the teacher travelled from Dunmore by pony and trap.
In 1900 Michael Burke who was married Kate Burke of Gortnagoyne became headmaster.  He retired in 1924 and ran a public house in Bridge Street.
In 1924 SeanFinnegan of Looragh and later of the Green Dunmore transferred from Shanballymore and became the principal of the Boys school. He remained in this position until he retired in 1964. He was replaced by his nephew John Lyons of Carrownaseer. The 2 sides of the school operated as distinct entities until around 1970 when they amalgamated with John Lyons (Principal), Anne Hosty, and Miss Quinn.
The teachers residence was constructed in 1897 at a cost of £250.
The Timoney family, Mrs. Bapsy Kenny and family and Nora Grace and family all resided in the school residence over the years.
Brian Grace, son of the former principal is the present occupant.


Teachers who have served in the Garrafrauns 1886 School


Girl's School
Boy's School
Honoria Timoney (Mrs. Touhy)(P)
Michael Timoney(p)   1887
Mary O'Reilly
Pat Staunton(P)         1897
Nora Healy( Mrs. BapsyKenny)(P)
James Fox (A)           1899
Delia Kelly
B. Mannion (A)            1906
Nora Grace(P)
Michael Burke(P)        1900
Agnes Walsh
Sean Finnegan (P)       1924
Ann Riordan (Mrs. Hosty) 1963
Nellie Kirrane
Ann McPhillips
Maura Quinn
Cecelia Gardiner ( Mrs.Donnellan)
Miss Philbin
Miss Greally
Eileen Concannon
Mary Teresa Kenny
Agnes Walsh
Mary Coleman
John Lyons(P)    1964
Miss M. Quinn

In 1975 the school at Shanballymore closed due to falling enrolments. It was amalgamated with the newly built Garrafrauns Central School. The staff included John Lyons (Principal), Maureen Lyons (ex. Principal of Shanballymore N.S.) and Ann Hosty.
In 1985 the school was amalgamated with Strawberry Hill N.S. and Sean Purcell ( principal) and Mary Murphy joined the staff making it a 4 teacher school. In the intervening years other teachers who have taught in the school include Christina Healy, Bridie Hynes, Frank Burns (Principal), Joan MacDonnell (Principal) , Olivia O'Reilly, Edel Feeney and Laura Comer.
 Garrafrauns NS 2012
 Garrafrauns Central School 2015