independent

Wednesday 21 August 2019

150 years of fond memories

THIS YEAR FCJ BUNCLODY WILL CELEBRATE 150 YEARS OF EDUCATING THE GIRLS AND BOYS OF THE AREA. BRONAGH HARRINGTON REFLECTS ON A LONG HISTORY

2011 MARKS the 150th anniversary of the FCJ School Bunclody. On August 5th 1861, the Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus came to Bunclody, in order to take charge of the education of girls.

The society was founded in 1820 in France by Marie Madeleine D'Houet specifically for ' the education of girls of all classes according to the needs of the district in which each foundation is located'.

Fr. James Parle, the parish curate, invited the order to come to Bunclody after witnessing the wonderful work they did with the Irish emigrants in Liverpool slums.

The Sisters took charge of the National School immediately. Shortly afterwards, on 19th August, a second level school was opened for boarders. He provided the pastoral house as a school building, and it was also used as dormitories for students.

Initially costing £2 per annum, this money went entirely towards the students' well-being and education in the boarding school.

The FCJ began to expand from the pastoral house, with the addition of dormitories, a refectory, and various specialist rooms, such as the home economics rooms and science laboratories.

Day pupils first enrolled in 1926, allowing local girls to benefit from a second level education. The school became co-educational from 1969. Previous to this, local boys attended St. Peter's College in Wexford, CBS Enniscorthy, and later the local vocational college.

Life as a boarder then was quite different compared to today's standards. Students were woken every morning at 7am. They were expected to be washed and dressed by 7.30, when all students were brought to Mass.

Breakfast was served at 7.50, after which students returned to their dormitories to make their beds, and then to the Study Hall to collect their books. Classes began at 8.50.

At lunchtime, boarding students were served dinner, while day pupils returned home or ate a packed lunch. Classes finished at 4.lO. Tea was served for boarders at 4.20, with study directly afterwards.

Supper was at 6.50, after which students were given recreational time, indoors or outdoors depending on the weather. Lights in the dormitories were extinguished by 10.lOpm.

Everyone had basins of water for washing in dormitories, and they were only permitted a bath once a week. A typical dormitory slept 20 students, although efforts were made to give family members rooms together.

Dormitories were sparsely decorated, with each student possessing a locker with a basin and jug, and a bed with a curtain around it. Boarders were allowed home at Halloween, Christmas, Easter and summer, and later at weekends too.

The boarding school ceased in 1986, as education was available to all students. The boarding school was in need of refurbishment, and boarding schools were no longer needed.

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