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On Monday, June 9, 2014 John Mills, the first cousin of my mother, Catherine Wills nee McArdle, showed us the ruin of the schoolhouse used in the 1930 / 1940’s and which he attended as would Catherine if her parents hadn’t emigrated to Canada in the 1920’s. Free public schooling was mandated in Ireland from 1831 and by the 1850s most Irish parishes had a schoolhouse, such as this in Ballymascanlon civil parish, as part of the National Schools. When this piece was first published, Malachy Mills (a cousin), left a comment and clue…the name is Aghameen School. The following information spooled out from that.
There is an Irish language site, Duchas.ie, with listings for Aghameen, a Louth township, the very one of the school and, very rightly, it is the name of the school. There is even information from a teacher, Bean Ui Riada, who taught there 1937 – 1938, and posted information about local place names and legends. Here is the link to his postings. I learned from him that Aghameen is An tÁth Mín in Irish and means “field of the mountain meadow.” You can see from the photographs the site is on the side of a mountain, pine forests all around.
Throughout her life my Mother had correspondence with her cousins who learned how to write in this very school.
The school existed at least since 1842. In private communication arising from this blog posting I learned a friend’s great, great grandfather, Denis Joseph Doherty, came from Donegal in that year to teach in the school and married a fellow teacher, Margaret Kane who was the girl’s school teacher. They raised a family while living at the school until moving to Jenkinstown. Margaret was from Jenkinstown, not far away and also on the Cooley Peninsula. They are Malachy Mills’ great, great, great grandparents through his mother.
Aghameen School is located on the Cooley Peninsula, County Louth, shown in the following Google Earth Image
This is the exact location:
Latitude 54° 2’17.83″N
To get there go to the cross-roads in Omeath and drive uphill for a few miles to a T-junction. Turn left and go through the Windy Gap past the Long Woman’s Grave (shown on the following Google Earth image). Take the right fork at the next Y intersection. Continue for 1.4 mile (2.26 kilometers) to a Y intersection, take the right fork. Continue .18 mile (.28 kilometer) to find the ruin is on your right.
I marked the a portion of the Tain Way with a red line where it passes near the Old Schoolhouse.
This is the road as viewed from the ruin looking south…..
….and the distant view of the uniquely shaped peak Slievenaglogh to the southeast. Slievenaglogh in Irish is Sliabh na gCloch and means mountain of rocks. There is an identically named peak in the Mourne Mountains, to the north across Carlingford Loch. Slievenaglogh of Cooley Peninsula is an interesting element of south view from this valley.
…behind a stone fence and gate posts.
Overgrown with ferns, moss, grass…..
…the ever present lichen.
John’s son, Sean Mills, was with us. That day, Sean lead us on Tain Way over the Golyin Pass over Slieve Foy with Carlingford as the destination. Indeed, the Tain Way passes a few feet from this spot, being a loop of the Cooley peninsula. The Way is a two day walk, our starting point was a few miles from the schoolhouse.