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Tales old and new of school at heart of the community

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Pat McDonagh, local businessman and book sponsor, with Carl O'Flaherty at the launch of 'Farewell to Killossery'. Credit: Kevin Milford

Pat McDonagh, local businessman and book sponsor, with Carl O'Flaherty at the launch of 'Farewell to Killossery'. Credit: Kevin Milford

Pat McDonagh, local businessman and book sponsor, with Carl O'Flaherty at the launch of 'Farewell to Killossery'. Credit: Kevin Milford

IT seemed like the whole community of Rolestown and Kilsallaghan turned out last week for a very special night that saw their memories of the local school that has played such a huge part in all of their lives, committed to paper.

This rural Fingal community have a Kerryman to thank for recording their memories of the national school that has been at the heart of life in the area for more than 170 years.

'Farewell to Killossery' is a reference to the first incarnation of what is now Rolestown National School - Killossery National School was its original name when it began educating children from the area back in 1834.

Teaching at the school for the last 25 years has been Carl O'Flaherty, a man with a great love of stories and song and an avid collector of both.

That interest in a good yarn, coupled with training as a local historian led to the project that has occupied Carl's free time for much of the last four years, in collecting the stories of past pupils of the school, young and old alike.

He described the birth of the project which took place as he trawled through the national archives. Carl told the Fingal Independent: 'After three or four days down there floundering around like a fish, low and behold I came across something with Killosery written on it.

'And what turns up only Killossery National School and I got the original application form to start the school in 1834 and from then on, the game was on.'

He began to talk to some of the older members of the parish about their memories of their early school life and posted notices locally inviting other contributors

Carl said: 'All of a sudden I started getting contributions from people I never heard of in my life and then I asked another few people to contribute - a good combination of the young and the old, the brave and the bold.' He added: ' What surprised me really is how important the school was really. Most of the people in the parish my age, over 50, the only education they ever got in their life was inside in that little school.

Carl said: ' They cherished that school like it was the biggest thing in their lives.' There are more contributions that Carl has yet to find a place for and a second volume is not out of the question at some point. The publishing bug has clearly bitten the local teacher who is also working on his own memoirs of his childhood in Kerry. What he will take away from the Killossery project is the welcome.he received from everyone he approached to contribute.

He said: 'I got a great cead mile failte from everyone - that's what I remember more than anything else.'


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