I attended my Alma Mater Dreenan from 1962/63 to
1969. For me it will always just be Dreenan and whilst the word school is
necessary, because in the end that was what it was, however, it was more than
just a school. It was a community, a place of people, not only in the school but
outside. I remember well the Rankins, Ange Convery the Millars, the
O"Neills and Paddy Joe Henrys as being all what Dreenan was about. We were
asked (unfortunately not often enough) to go to Rankins or Ange Converys for
various things. I cannot now recall the reasons for the trips but, at the time
they took on monumental importance and how proud we felt on our return - mission
accomplished with water or such other necessities!
As for the seat of learning itself, I cherish many memories some dearer than others. We travelled to school by car and also brought Pat Joe Hughes and the Downeys. Mrs McErlane taught the younger ones or, as she referred to them lovingly as `My Babies`. We were in Mrs Diamond’s room where every thing happened - `the engine room`. Some of the people who stand out in my mind include Moira O"Neill as she always had a lovely lunch peppered with beautiful buns and other goodies! I learned later that Nancy was a great baker and I always clung to Moira to see and often share the contents of her box. I remember Geraldine Henry crying for what seemed like weeks at the start because she always wanted to go home to her mammy as she had marked her shoes! Then there were the Big Boys - the real Giants who were Pat O’Neill, Danny McNally, Pakie Duggan and Patrick Diamond. They would have carried out the big tasks for the teacher.
The Roll call was always first and each person answered in Irish - Anseo or Nil Se/Si Anseo. I still remember Mrs Diamond’s "good fountain pen" being produced for the large Roll Book and Fr. Maguire on his many visits would often take a ponderous look at what seemed the most precious and important tome I had ever seen. Information was imparted and accepted with great enthusiasm. There were the large maps of Ireland and The World hanging at the back of the classroom. I can still see Mrs Diamond standing and pointing with her 3 foot ruler to various rivers, towns, cities and countries and children shouting out in their loudest voices places that seemed literally to be in another world! Then there were the classroom quizzes where we lined up on two sides of the room - brains pitted against brains and the competition was serious. Some were better losers than others!! Then there was the poetry and to this day every time I see daffodils I am reminded of "……And all at once I saw a crowd a host of golden daffodils……" The other two poems indelibly imprinted in my mind were Meg Merriles "…Old Meg she was a gypsy, She lived upon the moors, Her bed it was of brown heath turf, Her house was out of doors…." And finally the beautiful Solitary Reaper "…..Behold her in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass…. Will no one tell me what she sings,? Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow, For old, unhappy far off things and battles long ago…" That love of poetry which emanated from Dreenan has remained with me ever since.
Then there was the famous Black Babies collection on the last Friday of the month. We gathered up and fingered all the little spare coins and proudly slotted them into the grey box!
Surely the best compliment for me about Dreenan is when my husband jokingly asks "could you not get Mrs Diamond to reopen Dreenan for Giselle?
Times change, people move on, but every time I pass Dreenan school I think of the lighting of the fires, the cleaning out of the toilets, the hide and seek, the laughter and tears and I smile and think to myself, wasn’t I lucky!
1963 - 1969