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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Brown Clayton Papers


Memories of Mr. H. Boake. 1950.

By kind permission of Michael Purcell


Memories of Mr. H. Boake. 1950.

"Usually 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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