The Village Where I Went To School
My school days in Kilmurry in the early to mid-fifties were deemed to be the happiest days of my life and maybe they were. At that time, Kilmurry had two schools, Girls and Boys, situated on either side of the Catholic Church. Both buildings were two storey with the classrooms on the upper floor. The ground floor of the Girls’ School was known as the Reading Room. It was used in previous times teaching adults to read. The ground floor of the Boys’ School was called the Coach House, used in the former years as a stable for the priest’s horse, when he came to church. In the latter years, it became the turf shed for the school and so did the Reading Room in the Girls’ school.
The playground was the village street. Both girls and boys shared an eleven o’clock break – 10 minutes approx. Midday break of half an hour was for the girls, noon to twelve thirty followed by the boys until one o’clock. Rarely was play interrupted by traffic except occasionally by a horse and cart returning from Lissarda Creamery, after local farmers having delivered their daily supply of milk.
The teachers of the time at the girls school were principal Mrs Kit Cronin and assistant Mrs Brid Murphy. Mrs Cronin and her husband John, who was principal at Béal na Bláth, resided with their family in the teacher’s residence in the village. Mrs Murphy lived at Crossmahon, Lissarda where some family members still reside. The principal of the boys school was Domhnall O’Buachalla (Master Buckley) assisted by Miss Culhane, who shortly after married Con McSweeney (Director of Castlemore Quarries). She was replaced by Miss Breda O’Mahoney (Mossgrove), first cousin of the McCarthy brothers: renowned members of Kilmurry GAA during the 1960s/ 1970s. Breda’s appointment was temporary and in July of 1953, Miss Margaret Corkery was appointed. Miss Corkery later became Mrs Wall when she married Liam, a native son of Kilmurry. Margaret who retired in 1998 was a dedicated and extremely popular teacher. May she enjoy many more years of happy retirement.
Back to Master Domhnall O’Buachalla, who taught for approximately forty years. He was also a very popular and influential member of the community. He was instrumental in providing housing developments in the locality and also public transport, namely the Cork – Macroom bus service through the village. Mr O’Buachalla, was also a founder member of Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Society (KHAA) and donated the site on which our new museum and cultural centre stands. He lived with his wife Nell and family at the lower end of the village.
At that time there were numerous shops and business outlets in the village. At the southern end near St Mary’s Graveyard was Crowley’s (better known as Bina Keogh’s). Crowley’s was a general groceries and also the only shop to sell single cigarettes at 2d a cigarette. The family also owned the local dance hall where various social events and meetings were held.
Next on the right was Lizzie O’Connor, a nurse and midwife by profession. Lizzie along with her sister Madge were very helpful to the local community. They also had a limited grocery shop. Continuing down the right hand side across from the old museum was Myles and Kathleen McSwiney, supplying groceries such as sweets and confectionery.
Next door, still on the right was Murty Kelleher, a small shop supplying confectionery, cigarettes & tobacco. These premises also had a slaughter house, previously supplying meat throughout Muskerry and further afield. His son Jerome had a thriving butcher business in Macroom for many years after.
Continuing down the right hand side was Babe O’Callaghan (Hallihan). This was one of the main newsagent & grocery shops in the village. Babe’s also supplied bottled gas, drapery and many other lines. This shop must be the oldest surviving business in Kilmurry, with her daughter Sheila Ahern (née O’ Callaghan) still continuing in the business to this day. Next then was Richard and Ma Harrington; Richard had a carpenter shop. At the bottom right of the village was Michael and May Murphy, general groceries, coal and other fuels, as well as a pub and post office. Last but not least Ellie Desmond the chapel woman (sacristan).
On the site of the new museum was Tim Sheehan, farmer. Next was J.T. Kelleher’s, pub, fuel, groceries and milling (animal compounds). They also farmed extensively. On the top of the village was O’Regan’s public house, also farmers. Going west the Poul Road was Galvin’s Terrace, named after Michael Galvin who gave his life at Lissarda Ambush in 1920 (War of independence). Next was St Andrew’s Church of Ireland.
Finally, Pake and Maggie Sheehan and family. Pake was a shoemaker, local historian and also a founder member of KHAA.
Many of the people mentioned above have now gone to their eternal reward. May the Lord have mercy on their souls.