Access Keys:

Cloonloo National School, Co Sligo
Cloonloo National School, Co Sligo


History of St. Ronan’s N.S.


St Ronan’s N.S. c1840

Master John Scanlon was the principal of the school in 1840. He was paid a salary of £4 (€5 approx.) per quarter. The dimensions of the school at that time were 14ft by 12ft. (5.6m by 4.6m). The whole school was quite considerably smaller than each classroom in today’s school.


St Ronan’s N.S. 1886

On the 31st December 1886 there were 40 boys and 31 girls on roll.   A new school opened in Cloonloo on Monday 24th October 1887.The Cloonloo male and female schools were built to accommodate 200 pupils, 100 boys and 100 girls. The new school was funded by local funds and the Board Grant. It cost around £531 (€640) to construct. The walls were built of stone and mortar and the floors were boarded or earthen. The premises were enclosed by stone and mortar walls, two iron and one wooden gate. There were separate entrances for boys and girls. The pupils sat at long desks called forms. The outdoor toilets were called privies.


St Ronan’s N.S. 1964

The current school was built in 1964 by Mr. Mick McDonagh, Cloonloo. It was officially opened by Dr. Fergus, Bishop of Achonry on June 1st  1965. Present at the ceremony were Very. Rev. J. Canon Colleran, P.P., Gurteen, Rev. Patrick O’Leary, C.C., Gurteen, Very Rev, W. Casey, P.P., Coolaney, Rev. Fr. Wims, C.C., Mullaghroe, Very Rev. T. Canon Mahon, P.P., Boyle, Mr O’ Dallaigh, Dept.of Education; Mr. T Coll, Regional Inspector; Mr. James Fairweather (Board of Works); Mr. Michael McDonagh, contractor, Cloonloo; Dr. D. Kilcoyne, Gurteen; Mr. Thomas Moran, N.T.; Mrs. U. Crummy, N.T.; the parishioners of Cloonloo, and the pupils of the school. 

St Ronan’s N.S. 2005

 The school was renovated in 2005 following the discovery of asbestos in the roof. This was a major health and safety issue and required immediate remediation. The work was carried out by Kilcawley Construction, Strandhill Road, Sligo. It involved the installation of new ceilings, floors, windows, internal layout and electrical/plumbing work. The work took place during July and August. New blinds and school furniture were also purchased. Bishop Thomas Flynn officially blessed our school following the completion of its renovation and refurbishment on Sunday 19th March 2006.


St Ronan’s N.S. 2018

An extension was added to St. Ronan’s N.S in 2018. Two new SET rooms were created and the original SET room was converted into an accessible toilet.


Principal Teachers:

  • Scanlon 1840
  • Patrick Cosgrove 1865-14th November 1887
  • Mary Cosgrave 15th November 1887 – 1946
  • Gerry McLoughlin 1935-1956
  • Owen McCoy Jan. 1957-Feb. 1957. He died March 5th 1957
  • Eamon McGuinness April 1957- 1960
  • Tom Donoghue 1960 – Sept. 1963
  • Tom Moran Nov. 1963- 1997
  • Eileen Moran 1997- 2003
  • Barry Brett Jan. 1st 2004-31st Aug. 2005
  • Michael Heffernan 1st Sept. 2005
  • Maria- Goretti Surlis 1st Sept. 2017


Assistant Teachers

  • Brigid Cosgrove c. 1880 – 15th November 1887
  • Miss Mary Farrelly c. 1888
  • Miss Hart and Miss Boylan (Mrs. Brehony) taught here around the turn of the 20th century
  • Miss Brigid McDonagh
  • Miss Winnie McDonagh (Mrs. Crummy) 1920-1967
  • Margaret McGreevy July 1967-Oct. 1968
  • Eileen Moran July 1968-1997
  • Kathleen Henry 1997-2001
  • Cryan 2001-2002
  • Mrs Garvey 2002
  • Dearbhaile Prior Sept. 2002-2003
  • Ann Walsh 2003-2005
  • Michelle Jordan 1st Sept.2005


Life in Cloonloo N.S. in the 1920’s

This is the story of John McGrath who visited our school on Thursday 20th June 1996. John was 82 years of age at the time.

            When I attended school 75 years ago, there were 87 pupils on roll. The school day lasted from 9am-4.30pm.  It was often 4.45pm before we were allowed home. In winter time, this meant that it was dark and some children might be afraid going home. The schoolbag was made out of a mealbag-handmade of course. We got three to four hours homework to do each night. No school on Saturdays. We had rubbers but no toppers- the teacher used a big knife to sharpen pencils. A ruler cost 1d (less than 1c).  the desks were long – they could seat up to five or six children. We played pitch i.e. we pitched small stones towards another big stone (latter was called the granny stone).

            School was closed for the summer holidays for the last week of July and for the month of August – five weeks in total, nine to ten days at Christmas and Easter. We always had school on Bank Holidays. The ordinary inspector called regularly. He was very keen on Maths. The religious inspector usually called in November. He asked individual questions. He was a very severe priest. The short catechism was used in infants, 1st and 2nd class. The long one was used in 3rd to 6th class.

            Hardship was the order of the day. I hated school although some teachers were extremely nice. For lunch we had two cuts of dry bread and butter wrapped in the Roscommon Herald.

             Books were scarce and cheap, often handed down. We used indelible pencils for drawing. You wet them with saliva and they wrote nicely. Some teachers were very wicked – they had ash plants which they used freely – across the back of the head and on the limbs. If you misbehaved you were put inside a circle after being punished and if you moved outside, you got a sudden reminder with the ash plant on the back. Parents had no sympathy. The bell rang when it was time to go in, we called it “the bell for hell”. If you didn’t come in immediately you were greeted with corporal punishment.

From September 1st pupils brought two sods of turf under their arm each day to school until their father brought a load of turf. Some parents gave 2/6d (less than 17c) towards the provision of coal.

            There were floorboards in the classroom. Rats and mice came up through the cracks in the boards and ate scraps of bread. They occasionally bit your toes but you didn’t complain.


The Mrs. Crummy Cup

The Mrs. Crummy Cup is named after Mrs. Úna Crummy who taught in our school from 1920 to July 1967, helping shape the school and its pupils  for 47 years. The cup was presented by her family and is awarded each year to a pupil in the school.

            Mrs. Úna Crummy (nee McDonagh) was born at Doon Rock in 1920. She died in 1974. Weather permitting, Mrs. Crummy cycled to school on her black bicycle that had a basket in front that held a multitude of things. She was an extremely generous person who always put herself last except when it came to hard work.

            As far as the pupils were concerned she was the epitome/essence of goodness. She attracted them like a magnet attracts iron. Everybody was loud in their praise of her – parents, priests, children and visitors alike, including the toughest inspectors.


The School Crest

A crannog is on the crest of St. Ronan’s N.S.  because of the local history  of Lough Gara.

 In the late 1940s the Board of Works commenced an extensive drainage scheme on the Boyle River and Lough Gara.  By mid 1952, due to this work, the level of the lake dropped considerable, revealing large areas of muddy lake bottom on which were found the remains of an ancient civilisation. In all over 360 crannogs were discovered by archaeologists, some dating back to 3500 or 4000 BC.  Many implements used by the crannog dwellers were also found; these included dug-out canoes, axe heads, spearheads of stone, bronze and iron, swords of bronze, bran flakes in great quantity and also many personal ornaments, rings, bracelets, armlets etc

A crannog is an ancient Irish lake dwelling. The name crannog comes from the Gaelic word crann (a tree) due to the large amount of timber used in their construction. The Irish crannog is an artificially constructed island in shallow water on which the crannog dwellers built their house or houses.  Some were approached from the land by a submerged path, the location and direction of which was known only to the crannog dwellers.  They were also approached by boats.

All the crannogs on Lough Gara were originally laid down in six to eight inches of water.  Some were small and circular, made of brushwood and stones and surrounded by a circle of wooden posts and most of them supported a single, round, thatched hut while others were larger and had additional buildings.

Excavating the crannogs was a slow, tedious, meticulous job.  The areas to be excavated was first divided into sections and then the process began;  layer after layer of sand, stone, peat, brushwood etc was carefully removed by hand. The main implements used were trowels and brushes so the layers were practically scraped away.

At some time after 600 BC (Iron Age)  the waters of the lake rose rapidly and the inhabitants of the crannogs had to leave quickly taking whatever they could with them.  When the crannogs were abandoned the houses collapsed and were covered by a layer of washed sand only to be discovered many years later to huge local, national and international interest.

(Source; On the Record No 2 December 1991)