Personal History – Nathaniel Clark 4C

Published in Personal History

Secondary School Life during the 1940s in Sligo

These are the memories of a lady who lived in Ballyshannon and attended boarding school in Markievicz House in Sligo during the 1940s. Markievicz House was the Protestant Girls High School in Sligo and was a boarding school. It was run by a headmistress who “hated” boys which meant that the girls would walk on one side of the pavement while the boys from the nearby Grammar School would walk on the other side, with little or no contact. Subjects studied in school were similar to those done today but, instead of the Junior Certificate, there was the Intermediate Certificate along with the Leaving Certificate. Exams were done in the Ursuline Convent, so the girls had to walk down to the Convent before exams began. School lunch consisted of lots of potatoes along with different foods such as jam sandwiches. There were not a lot of school books.

The boarders spent most of the evening doing homework but, during free time, activities included reading, listening to the radio, board games, sports such as hockey and music lessons. Only 6th form students were allowed into town, and the only time the lower years could go into town was if they were called for or taken out to lunch on Sundays. The lady I spoke to only went home to Ballyshannon during school holidays, but would return to school with a tuck box.

Boarders slept in a big dormitory upstairs with a teacher sleeping in a room at the end. They got up at 7am and lights out was at 9:30pm. During homework hours, there was homework followed by a break for tea followed by more homework. When students reached 6th year, they were taken in one at a time by the headmistress to have tea and discuss topics such as their future.

The headmistress was so opposed to romances happening between the girl boarders and the boy boarders in the Grammar School that, if she thought a letter was from a boy, she would it. However, students attending Calry Church had a sneaky way of making contact with the boys who also attended. They would put a note in a hymnbook and pass the hymn book down the pew until it reached its target. Day pupils were also used as messengers to pass notes to the boys. Some girl boarders lived in a house on the Mall that the school used so they could use the post box on Connaughton Road as a means of communication with the opposite sex, providing that the headmistress did not intercept the notes.

If a fire happened to break out, girls went down a fire chute at the back of Markievicz House. The punishment for breaking the rules was writing lines.

The lady I spoke to left school in 1947 but obviously still has vivid memories of her boarding days at the Girls High School in Markievicz House, Sligo.


Nathaniel Clark 4C


Copyright © 2024 History Publications Ltd, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland | Tel. +353-1-293 3568