A “Hedge School” was situated in the townland of Ardoughter near Slievadara (in the field opposite O’Connor’s shop.) It was originally established as was all other Hedge Schools in remote areas to avoid detection from the authorities during the Penal Laws when education was denied to the Catholic Community. These schools were not free schools as a fee was paid to the teacher for tuition. Subjects including Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, History and Geography were taught through Irish. These schools often taught Greek and Latin as well.
These schools were outlawed for the most part of the 18th Century and the Hedge School master lived and worked in fear of being imprisoned and transported to far off lands. But Ardoughter Hedge School continued to operate.
The laws relaxed and the School operated openly from a permanent building. However, prior to this date classes were conducted in the open during the Summer months, and cabins concealed in the bog during the months of Winter.
First official reference to this school.
The Commission of Public Instruction conducted a survey to establish the educational needs of the country. This survey refers to 3 schools in the Parish of Killury, of which Ardoughter was one, with 30 males and 15 females on the rolls and an average daily attendance of 20 but increasing. The subjects taught were Reading, Writing and Arithmetic all through the medium of Irish. English was taught for a time by a Capt. Shepperd a native of Co. Down, who was attached to the Coast Guard Station at the Cashen.
Next reference was when Mr. John O’ Donovan wrote (in his letter in conjunction with the Ordnance Survey of Kerry) “There is one school containing 40 boys and 20 girls all Roman Catholic. The teacher is paid by the pupils quarterly: Spelling – 1s, Reading and Writing – 1s/6d, Arithmetic – 2s/6d. The teacher at this time was Denis O’ Sullivan.
A proposal to build a new school at Ardoughter was submitted by Rev. Eugene McCarthy P.P. and Manager. Mr. Crosbie, the landlord of the Ardoughter site refused.
A 99 year lease was obtained from Wilson Gun, landlord of Slievadara, for a site at Slievadara of 3 rood and 17 perches and the building of a new school, comprising of 2 separate rooms 34ft by18ft for boys and 17ft by18ft for girls commenced.
On December 1st the new National School with an area of 948 sq feet and capable of accommodating 150 children was opened. The cost was approx. 208.5s. This was called Slievadara N.S. and Ardoughter Hedge School was then closed. Mr. Denis O’ Sullivan was principal and Winnie O’Sullivan his assistant.
9am – 4.30pm Summer.
10am – 3.30pm Winter.
Religious instruction on Saturday.
All subjects were taught through English. This was very difficult for children as Irish was their language but that was one of the conditions of a free Education System. (Sad and Hard Times).
Potatoes were struck by blight resulting in the Great Famine.
Slievadara School took on the new role that of a “Soup Kitchen”
The final official reference to the Ardoughter School was made by John Church, Principal of Killury N.S. (The first National School in the Parish 1834) when he named three schools within 3 miles of Killruy and refers to Slievadara School as the Ardoughter School.
Denis O’ Sullivan retired : physically and mentally exhausted. Half of his pupils died from famine and disease. The final horror was twenty five of his former pupils, all girls from the townlands of Ardoughter and Kilmore were tagged and placed on board a ship off Saleens Pier, Ballylongford for dispatch to an English port and from there to Australia, as the workhouses in Listowel were unable to accommodate them. He witnessed the demise of our native language and culture.
Denis O’ Sullivan was replaced as headmaster by Maurice Nelan of Causeway. He was successful in encouraging parents to send their children to school and to overcome their apathy towards the new school. He taught English with a new enthusiasm, not for any love of the language, but to ensure fluency in a language required for emigration. He also instructed on how to play a musical instrument primarily the fiddle. This skill was of great value to those who were not of an academic nature and were able to live independent and self sufficient lives within their own community as fiddle players, many were hired to play at ‘American Wakes’
Maurice Nealan retired having fallen foul of the Board of Education, by building a house on the school site. The Board of Education did not accept his reason and forced him to remove his one roomed house from the school site and dismissed him from the post of headmaster.
Henry McEnery was appointed Headmaster of the boys school. His wife Margaret (nee Stack) was head of the girls. During his time an additional classroom for the girls section of the school, also outside toilets were added and a wall dividing the girls section from the boys section was built.
Henry was replaced by his son John McEnery, who died at a young age (32yrs). John’s cousin Thomas (Tammy) O’ Connor a native of Causeway assumed the position as principal until such time as John’s brother William McEnery had qualified as a teacher.
Three generations had passed since the Irish Language was taught and with the establishment of Ireland as an Independent Nation Mr. Willie McEnery saw the introduction of the Irish Language and Irish History as subjects in our schools. Once again pupils were faced with the arduous task of acquiring the language as did the first pupils in 1843.
Mr. Willie McEnery retired. Mr. Seán Dowd was appointed principal.
The boys and girls schools amalgamated making Slievadara a mixed school.
Work began on a new school and by October of that year a modern School was opened and Slievadara School entered a new era.
On the 30th of June the Cashen School closed its doors for the last time. On the following day its pupils, entered Slievadara School for the first time. 75 years, having lapsed since any ancestor of that school had attended Slievadara, as the Cashen area was originally within the Slievadara catchment area. Mr. Jim McEllistrim helped smooth the integration of its pupils with those of Slievadara.
On the retirement of Mr. Sean Dowd, Mr. James McEllistrim was appointed principal.
An increase in the number on the rolls incurred the need for a fourth assistant and the erection of a temporary room. Ms. Breda O’Regan was appointed.
Attendance peaked to a new high of 163 pupils and a fifth Assistant was appointed for one year. Erection of new classroom also began in August of 1995. Mrs. O’Connor (nee McEnery) and Mrs. Marian O’Connor Divane retired. Mrs Norma O’Carroll, Mrs. Kay Keane and Mrs. Kitty Brassil were appointed.
Pupils moved into new room and modifications were made to one of the existing rooms making an office, staffroom and library.
Anne White joined the school as secretary.
Erection of new class room.
Unexpected death of Michele Spellman. Unveiling of memorial plaque in her memory.
Rita Goulding appointed to staff.
June: Mrs. Margaret Broderick retires after 38 years
Sept: Miss Sinéad Keane appointed to the staff.
Mr. Jim McEllistrim retired as principal and Mrs. Breda O’ Dwyer was appointed as new principal.
Mr. Maurice O’ Connor and Miss Elaine Goulding were appointed to the staff.
Work began on extension to the school. A classroom, Resource Room, Office and Store Room.
Sept: New school extension completed and opened.
Mrs. Kay Keane retires. Work began on the replacement of the prefabs with a further extension to the existing school building.
Sept: Ms. Denise Wren appointed to staff.
Dec 18th: Official opening of new extension by Bishop of Kerry Rev. Dr. Ray Browne.
Two SNA’s Majella Egan and Brian Spillane were appointed to the staff.