Tel: 094 964 0388


Cloonbonniffe – Cluain Ban Dubh

Meaning: Village of the black parks

The village of Cloonsuck:

Cloon: Means meadowland or pastureland and is the first element in the name of many surround town lands in the area. So much so that the area is commonly known as the cloontias.

Suck: The river Suck, a tributary of the majestic Shannon, meanders its way gently and unhurriedly through this place giving it an air of peace and tranquillity, the fields bordering the suck are also called black parks.

This was the site for the first National School in this area. According to records examined at the National Archives, the school was established on the 17th June 1861.

It consisted of one room 27x12x8’ high. Its manager was Rev. T.P. Keane, P.P. Miss Catherine Kelly, Annaghagherea was appointed Principal at the age of 20 years old. The walls of the school were made of stone and mortar and it had a clay floor with a thatched roof. There were two windows 2x2 ½ . There was a second room occupied by the teacher. Furniture consisted of 3 desks and 9 forms 8’ long with accommodation for 60 pupils. The school hours were 10a.m. until 3p.m. Religious instructions were allowed for ½ per day and as many hours as decided on for a Saturday. The records did not say who the owner of the school was but it was situated on lands owned by Pat Farrell. The principal teacher, Miss Kelly was paid the princely sum £6 per half -year and education was not free. There were 80 pupils on roll with an average attendance of 50 per day.

An inspector’s report (Mr. J. McSweeney) visited the school on the 26th of February 1862 and there were 52 pupils present. It was also stated that there were 30 families within a half mile of the school and 100 families within one mile – a large number compared to today.

This school ceased to exist on the 1st of January 1875 when the Dons Schools were established. While girls were attending the school in Cloonsuck, the boys attended 2 hedge schools. One in Cloonsuck with 40 pupils on the roll and ran by Mr. William Mulrennan and the second Hedge School was in Cloonfower with a roll of 30 pupils and ran by Mr. Thomas Greham. On the 17th of February Fr. P. Keane P.P., Castlerea applied to the commissioners of Natural Education for funding towards payment of teachers salaries and for the supply of requisites for the Don male and female school which he opened on the 1st of January 1875. The school was known locally as, ‘The O’Connor Donn National School’.

At that time it was in two sections, one for the boys and one for the girls. Each section measured 31 feet long by 20 feet wide and 14 feet high. The roof was slated as it is today. There were five windows in each section. At this time, the children sat at their desks on long benches called forms. There were 120 boys and 132 girls on rolls, but only about 85 boys and 45 girls attended each day. This was because they were kept at home to help in the house or on the farm. The Principal of the boys’ school was Mr. Martin O’ Callaghan and Miss. Catherine Kelly was the Principal of the girls’ school. In 1876 a boy of 18 years was appointed as assistant in the boys’ school. There were 151 boys on the roll at that time. A second teacher was appointed in the girls’ school also. The Patron was the O’ Connor Don M.P., Clonalis, Castlerea, from whence the name came.

The school was renovated and modernised in 1969, when the outdoor toilets became part of the main building, situated at the gable end facing the road, as can be seen from the small windows in the picture. The entrance for both toilets however, was still from the outside.

In 2004 work on an extension to the school was completed. The old toilets were removed and the space became part of the senior classroom. A general purpose room was built along with new a new entrance hall, new toilets for the school and new toilets off the general purpose room, a kitchen and a store room, In 2010 a new staffroom was built, the old one becoming a Learning Support room.