Memories of Mr. H. Boake. 1950.
the manager of a National school was the Parish Priest
or Rector but in the case of the Barrack Street National
School (Browne-Clayton Memorial School) Mrs
Browne-Clayton, wife of Brigadier Browne-Clayton of
Browne's Hill was the manager. She did her duty well,
visiting the school regularly, and seeing to our wants.
She walked in without knocking as was her right.
We stood up somewhat falling over
ourselves, so sudden was her entry. She made a bee-line
for the teacher's chair beside the open fire, and if the
teacher happened to be sitting in it, she had to be out
of it quickly, otherwise Mrs Browne-Clayton would
probably have ended up on her lap. She listened to the
teaching for a while, and then stood up suddenly, tall
and gaunt and dark, beside our rather diminutive
teacher, said a few words to her, and then with a swish
of tweeds made for the door, we again having to be
upstanding again. it was woe betide the pupil nearest
the door who had not caught the glare from teacher to
get the door open in time.
A copy of the "Christian Science
Monitor" was left on the chair. Mrs Browne-Clayton
belonged to this sect. We all owed a debt to Mrs
Browne-Clayton. She kept the school in repair and kept a
roaring fire going in the school room for about 20 to 25
pupils, all at her own expense.
She provided the highlight of the year
too, the Christmas Tree party. The tree stood in the
corner decorated and lit and laden. We had never seen
anything like it before. The presents were mostly in a
large box over which the Rector stood guard over while
we feasted on everything sweet, sticky and curranty.
Eventually we saw the great moment was coming near and
we made a last effort to stuff down another bun, before
Mrs Browne-Clayton reached into the box In the ensuing
silence she called out a name. Half paralysed with
fright and excitement the owner of the name advanced.
All sorts of things came out of that
box, all good valuable presents. The girls maybe were
wishing for dolls, but there was one sort of present
looked forward to by the boys. The older boys always got
Barber pen knives. Thy were best quality and razor
sharp. The speculation was "would I be regarded as old
enough and would I get one"? Eventually I did, and
likewise some others.
At the end of the Christmas Tree Party
the Rector would call for three cheers for Mrs
Browne-Clayton. Our Christmas was made. Over 50 years
later I still have that Barber pen knife.
Robert tells me that a similar article
by H.V. Boake was published in Carloviana in 1986, page
44. (Mick Purcell).
Correction Browne-Clayton papers
The school referred to in "The Christmas
Tree Party" article was Rutland National School. Mrs
Browne-Clayton was manager of that school and supported
it, she was also manager of the Barrack Street National
School in Carlow town.
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