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By Fr. Mick Larkin

The older we get the more memories play a role in our lives.  We remember the house or home where we started from.  We have fond memories of the good times shared at the table and around the fire.  The home and the parish in which we grew up formed us for life.  The Primary School has memories that will never be erased.  It would be difficult to think of Peterswell School without thinking of Paddy Murray.  We were still in the old school when he married his beautiful bride.  We had a bonfire right out in front of the school even though it was before 3pm or the end of the school day.  I have read that the old school was a protestant church at one time.  The new church in Peterswell (named for a holy well dedicated to St. Peter) was built in 1886 on a site donated by Blake Foster.  Robert Gregory is said to have donated £30 towards the cost of erecting the new Catholic Church.  Most of us growing up never gave a thought to the fact that the church in which we worshipped was over a hundred years old.

So the new school is sixty years old.  Many of you like myself will scratch your heads and wonder where the time has gone.  The location of the new school was probably chosen because of the availability of the property.  Tom Connaire was the previous owner and being the kind man that we remember him as  it was probably bought for the right price.  It was very kind of Tom, even though unintentional, I’m sure, to sow turnips in the remaining half of the field.  In season, the turnips served a dietary supplement to the two slices of brown bread, which was the daily ration or fare for the average student.  Any student who showed up with meat between the slices was treated with great suspicion.

There was a lot of discussion at the time that the new school was built about the fact that it was an extra mile to walk for the students from the “side above” of the parish.  It was a mile closer for the Ballinabucky, Loughinwadda, Skehana and Dromore folks.  The mile –less of a walk was not the only advantage.  We no longer were forced to eat the bitter tasting crab apples at the Barracks.  Sheehan’s apples tasted much better and again, in season, Larkin’s and Kelly’s plums were far sweeter for those who were lucky enough not to get caught.

From the perspective of a student who had come from the old school the new one was state of the art.  Paddy Murray was still the teacher, now joined by his wife.  Even at that young tender age we hoped and probably prayed that she would have a calming influence on her husband.

Now that sixty years has gone by and we are told by the psychological profession that the mind has a tendency to reject the unpleasant, we have nothing but good memories from an era which will probably seem like ancient history to the younger generation.

There is no place like people.  I remember each and every student with whom I went to school.  I know that life and the passing years can change us but the values that we were taught we will carry to the grave.  We received a good foundation in our education.  We were thought a love and respect for our Catholic faith that has endured the test of time.

Peterswell and it’s sixty year old school may only be a dot on the map between Gort and Loughrea but to those of us who grew up there it is the most important place on the face of the earth.

May god continue to bless everyone who reads this article and those in the parish who do not get a chance to read it.

Fr. Mick Larkin.
Former Student