Tuesday 12 December 2017

Back to the 1950s

These old photos of outings from St John's NS (Temple Street) almost 60 years ago remained unseen for decades, until a past pupil who moved to England in 1968 had them developed only recently. They are published here today for the first time anywhere.


AN EMIGRANT'S YEARNING for an old school photograph unearthed dozens of never seen before pictures of class outings in the 1950s to scenic parts of Sligo.

Jim Foley, who left Sligon in 1968 and who now resides near Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, made contact with his old national school, St. John's of Temple Street, about the possibility of obtaining a class photograph from either 1951 or 1952.

The late Brother Philip obliged by carrying out a search and he came across several negatives from that time. He sent them on to Mr. Foley - but that was some ten years ago.

They lay undeveloped for all that time and it was only recently that Mr. Foley turned his attention to them once more and decided to get them developed.

He was pleasantly surprised when he got the pictures, all of 1950s school outings to local scenic areas of Sligo, including the Holy Well at Tobernalt, Knocknarea Mountain in Strandhill and the beach at Rosses Point.

Mr. Foley, originally from St. Brigid's Place, had a career in teaching in England but despite being so many years away from home he says he "never lost the feeling for Sligo."

He recalled how there was always great excitement when it was announced in St. John's that they would be going on a picnic.

"I remember going on the picnic to the Holy Well and how we walked all the way there from the school in twos. It was about a three or four mile walk but we enjoyed it immensely and we always seemed to pick fine, sunny days. The trip to Knocknarea was that bit longer so we got there on buses," he says.

Jim points out that in some of the photos one can see the boys holding up their valued bottles of minerals.

"One of the big treats for us on a picnic were the bottles of minerals or fizzy drink we were given. Nowadays you can buy a bottle or can of cold fizzy drink anywhere at not much cost. Sixty years ago it wasn't as readily available and it was beyond the pockets of ordinary children.

"I can't remember if the name of the manufacturer of the minerals was Foleys or Egans which were two the local bottling firms or Corcorans. Popular flavours were American Cream Soda, Orange and Lemonade. The glass bottles had the old fashioned metal crown caps with crimped edges and a cork seal and required a bottle opener.

"Once removed we used to carefully remove the round piece of cork from inside the cap, place the cap face-outwards on the outside of our jumpers and then push the cork seal from inside the jumper so that it secured the cap to the jumper and we had a badge. We were easily amused and easily pleased in those days," he recalls.

Mr. Foley intends sending all the negatives and photos to the County Library to be saved for future generations. Brother Philip - who passed away in Athlone in May 2006 - appears in some of the pics.

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