The children in the 2nd and 3rd classes have been exploring Neolithic (late Stone Age) Ireland including the Newgrange Passage Tomb. People gather at Newgrange for winter solstice dawn on each of the mornings from December 18th to December 23rd inclusive. Sunrise is at 8.58am. All access to the chamber is decided by lottery. Weather permitting on the days around the Winter Solstice the rising sun illuminates the passage and chamber of the 5000 year old passage tomb.
It was a great pleasure to welcome local hero and past pupil Clare Hurley to the school with the West Cork Junior Ladies Cup. Clare told us about the enjoyment and fun of participating in sport. Clare explained that the friends she has made as part of playing football was probably the most important benefit of her sporting career.
We were absolutely delighted to welcome Dan Noonan to our school on his 85th birthday. Dan attended Togher National School when it first opened at its current location. Dan brought along his sons Don and Peadar. Waiting to greet their Grandad were Connie and Daniel who currently attend the school.
The original Togher National School was built around the time of the famine in 1848. Unfortunately that old school burned down on April 4th 1936 and little or no trace of it can be found today. Research suggests that a sod of turf from the open school fire must have fallen out one evening, when the school was unoccupied, and set the timber floor ablaze. While the new school was being built the children were accommodated in St. James’ Church.
Dan recalled that when the new school was completed there was a grand procession from it’s temporary home in the church to the new building. This was a different Ireland and the school building was divided into a Boy’s side and a Girl’s side. The Boy’s side wall plaque is still in place today. The children in the middle and senior classes were enthralled by Dan’s account of his school days. Dan was first taught by Mr. Bob Patterson and later by Master McCarthy. Master McCarthy’s daughter Dolly also taught in the school. Dan explained that he walked to and from the school no matter what the weather and used slate, chalk and well worn books for much of his school work. Dan recalled the day the teacher announced the end of World War II saying “Hitler is dead and the war is over”. Teachers would usually travel by bicycle.
Pupils were taught Irish, English and Maths from 9.30am to 3.00pm. Homework was always difficult as there was much farm work to be done after school. Physical punishment was common place in those days and all the teachers had a stick for this purpose. Dan explained that whenever they had the opportunity some pupils would make these sticks disappear. This often led to the situation where the pupil that was about to be punished had to go out and choose the stick to be punished with! Most of the pupils left at around 12 years of age. Dan answered the children’s many questions and we all enjoyed a slice of delicious birthday cake.
As part of the ‘Stories of the Revolution’ project, children from various primary schools including Togher N.S. have been asked to collect stories relating to the 1916-1923 period from their own area. This history project is organised by Skibbereen Heritage Centre. The project is based on the highly successful Irish Folklore Commission which gathered so much important local history and folklore from schoolchildren in 1937. We enjoyed a recent visit from Margaret who spoke to the children on this era.
The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the 1916-23 years among primary school students. Pupils are encouraged to gather stories from this period from their own families and their local communities.
Senior class pupils are currently researching this topic and we hope to compile an important and very valuable archive of local stories, many of them previously unrecorded.
We discovered some fascinating Freshwater Mini Beasts living in our local stream. Our finds included The Greater Water Boatman, The Lesser Water Boatman, Worms, Freshwater Snails, Shrimps, Leeches, Damselfly Larvae and a dangerous looking but harmless Water Scorpion. Stephanie from the Heritage Council explained the life-cycles of these Freshwater Mini-Beasts and how unpolluted freshwater is vitally important as a habitat for these creatures. The children in the Junior Room were delighted to view and hear about our finds as the children from the Senior Room explained what they had discovered.
Today we visited out local stream to explore the habitat. Stephanie from the Heritage Council helped us to discover the many fascinating creatures that live in our streams. The children were delighted to learn about the identification chart that allowed them to identify the creatures they found (and returned safely) their life cycles and the importance of a clean habitat for biodiversity.
Lots more photos below
It was time to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our labour. The children enjoyed bowls of delicious vegetable soup made from the vegetable harvest grown in the school garden.
It was a busy time in the kitchen as the children washed and chopped our crop of vegetables to make a large pot of delicious soup.
We have been looking at our crop of vegetables for the last four weeks – licking our lips and keenly anticipating the harvest. Jessica from the Heritage Council called this week to organise the harvest, help prepare the vegetable soup (the important bit) and get the vegetable garden ready for the winter.