Hedge school
  1. Tooromeen National School
  2. Carragowan National School, Martin Sheridan and Michael Collins
  3. Paul O' Dwyer & Lismirrane National School
  4. Shraheens National School
  5. Folklore

Hedge Schools in Bohola

The Commission of Public Instruction, 1835, mentions two hedge-schools in Bohola at the time, one kept by James McManns (who is still referred to locally as James McManus, but the record of 1835 spells his name differently) and the other kept by Dennis McDonnell. It was customary that at least one boy in the family would receive a hedge school education.
The Toocananagh School
The McManus school in that year had 181 pupils (134 boys and 47 girls), the numbers were increasing, and the subjects taught daily were reading, writing, arithmetic and Roman Catholic catechism. The children paid £15 10s. or €19.68 per year for the running of the school, and the average daily attendance was 120 pupils.
This school was situated in the townland of Toocananagh, and is believed to have been located between Keary's (now 'The Village Inn') and the late Pat Lavin's house.
The Valuation of Tenements (1848-1865) records that a Mary Tiernan leased a dwelling place from Bernard McManus, and it consisted of a house and a national school-house. The valuation of the schoolhouse for purposes of rates was 10 shillings (or €0.63) at that time.

Other hedge schools

The McDonnell school in 1835 had 90 pupils (60 boys and 30 girls), the numbers were increasing, and the subjects taught daily were reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar, Geography and Roman Catholic Catechism.
The contributions of the children ranged from 1shilling(€0.06) to 4 shillings per quarter each, and the average daily attendance was 80 pupils. The location of this school is a matter of speculation.
There were several other hedge schools in the parish, including ones in Tooromeen, Lismirrane, Lisgorman and Shanaghy, but many of these moved frequently, so it is difficult to pin down exactly where they were located.

Carragolda School
There was another school in Carragolda many years ago, and it was held in a barn where the late Julie Higgins' house is now. The schoolhouse was a two-storey building, and the teachers lived in the upper loft while they taught there.
The children learned arithmetic, English writing and reading, and a little Irish. Each child used to bring a little seat with him. Theywouldsit on the floor and leave their slates on the seats and write their lessons. Each child would then stand up in turn and read their lessons.
The teachers in Carragolda School were Mr. Thomas Carroll, Miss O'Grady (later became Mrs. John Egan and was Principal Teacher in Turlough N.S., Castlebar), and Miss O'Donnell from Ballaghaderreen.
The seats and equipment in Carragolda School were later moved to Carragowan School when it opened. top

The setting up of the 'real' schools
Under a scheme approved in 1831, Commissioners of National Education were appointed, and for the first time, a number of official schools began to spring up around the country, scattered and makeshift though many of them may have been.
In accordance with this scheme, the teachers received a small basic salary from the commissioners, on the understanding that it would be supplemented locally by the person or body establishing the school, and by what the teachers themselves could collect in the way of school fees.
Two-thirds of the cost of building new schools would be borne by the commissioners, while the rest was to be provided by local donors, such as religious bodies or landowners.
A manager was to be appointed for every school, and all schools were to be open to inspection. Parents of pupils were asked to contribute towards their children's education according to their means.
The first copy-books, Vere Foster's Writing Copy Books, were circulated in Ireland in 1865, and prior to this the children used slates. Irish was only introduced as a subject in 1925, and the schools were closed for three months while teachers went on intensive Irish courses to improve their command of the language. Both oral and written Irish were taught from that year onwards. top

Tooromeen N.S.

The site for Tooromeen School was donated by landlord Charles Burke Jordan, who owned all the land in that townland, totalling 509 acres 2 roods and 3 perches. This school was listed in the Primary Valuation of Tenements (1848-1865) and was valued at 10 shillings annually or €0.63 for rates purposes.
Teachers in Tooromeen
The school opened its doors in 1884 and closed in 1971. Teachers who taught in Tooromeen School down through the years included: Mrs. Mary Flynn, Miss Bridget Durcan, Mrs. Annie Doyle, Miss Bridget Higgins, Miss Bridget McNicholas, Miss Ellen Cavanagh, Mrs. Bridget Doyle, Mrs. Mary Brennan, Miss Ellen Moran, Miss Maria Lyons (later to become Mrs. Jack Carroll), Mrs. Hughes, Michael McNicholas, Tom McNicholas, Dudley Solan, Paddy McHale, Michael Doyle, Peter Filan, Eamonn Mulderrig and Mrs. Walshe.
The first pupil on the roll books in Tooromeen was James Canavan, and the last pupil recorded on the roll was Peter Jordan of Altinea. When the school closed, the pupils transferred to the new National School in Bohola. From 1885 to 1889, it seems that the school catered for girls only, as the District Inspectors' Observation Book for those years specifies that 90 girls were examined in 1885; 104 in 1886; 44 in 1888 and 57 in 1889. In 1890, the 'girls only' reference changed to 79 'pupils' examined, and the number of pupils present for the Inspector's visit declined steadily over the next few years, dropping to 34 in 1900. In 1901(there were 44 children present - 9 Infants; 8 in First Class; 10 in Second Class; 3 in Third Class; 4 in Fourth Class; 9 in Fifth Class and 1 in Sixth Class.
By 1912, the Inspectors were referring to having examined both the girls' and the boys' schools, so it would appear that there were two separate rooms at this stage.
During the 1920s, the number of children present during the Inspector's visits ranged from 37 to 50. In February 1931, there were 17 children present, and two late arrivals! In September of that year, there were 49 children on the register, between the two schools.
As well as the annual visits from the School Inspectors, the Diocesan Examiners also called every year to check the children's knowledge of religion. During the 1920s, the Examiner was a Fr. R. McCarrick, who was based in St. Nathy's College.

Visits of the 'Cigire' to Toroomeen NS
When the school first opened, the District Inspectors called religiously every year, sometimes even up to four times in a year, examining the pupils and inspecting the school buildings.
In December 1884, there were 47 students present on the day the Inspector called - 6 Infants; 11 in First Class; 21 in Second Class and 9 in Third Class

Carragowan N.S.

There were three schools in Carragowan down through the years. The first school was thatched, and very little is known about when it existed or how many pupils attended. The second school, a small one-roomed building, was built in the late 1870s. Olympian athlete Martin J. Sheirdan who was born in Bohola in 1881 is undoubtedly Carragowan's most famous pupil. He like many before him and since was forced to emigrate where he became a prominent member of the Metropolitan police force in New York. In his spare time he trained for track and field events and showed all round talent in both. During his sporting career he won 5 gold, three silver and 1 bronze medal. The local community centre is named in his honour.

Martin Sheridan Memorial

Michael Collins

The 'bigfellow' visits Carragowan

A past-pupil of Carragowan School, Chris Leonard, R.I.P. recalled a day in 1921, when a very well-known man in Ireland at the time, graced the school with his presence.
"We were in class, when we heard the latch rattling. One of the boys opened the door, and there stood Michael Collins. 'bhfuil Bean Uí Sioradáin anseo?" which translated means "Is Mrs. Sheridan here?" he asked, as his sister, Mrs. Kitty Sheridan, was a teacher in the school. I remember him well, he was a fine tall man, over six feet, and good-looking, with the same fair skin and dark hair his sister had. He was wearing a salt and pepper coloured jacket, and the thing that sticks out most in my memory was the leatherette trim on the cuffs of the sleeves and the leather patches on the elbow of the jacket. He also wore leggings and riding breeches."
Chris Leonard, from Carroward, started school at the age of four, in 1920, and some of his classmates at the time included Pake Burke and James Bourke from Carragolda, the late Tom Clisham from Ardacarra, the late Tommy Devaney from Carragolda, the late Michael Connolly from Carragolda, the late Jimmy McDonagh from Toocananagh, Martin Conlon from Carragolda, James Mulroy from Gurteens (he subsequently left and went to Straide School), Willie Bourke from Clooneen, the late Tommy Ansboro from Carroward, the late Peter Doherty from Ardacarra, the late Paddy O'Hara from Toocananagh and the late George Burke from Carragolda. There were over two hundred pupils in the Boys' School during his years at school, and between 150 and 200 pupils in the Girls' School.

Chris also remembers when the Hyland Regiment of the Scotch Regiment was billeted in Carragowan School, around the year 1920. They kept their horses at the back of the school, in the yard, and called to houses in the area collecting hay for the horses and food for themselves.
Many past pupils of Carragowan School remember fondly the playtimes spent enjoying games in the 'bogeen'. In summer, the cool streams running through the bog were ideal for refreshing hot young.hands and foreheads. The same streams froze over in the winter months and the same children swapped their short sleeves for woollen geansies, wore shoes and skated across the frozen water.
Michael Duffy and his family bought the schoolhouse and renovated it, turning the building into a private house, where they still reside. top

Lismirrane National School

Lismirrane had a number of schools through the years. The first, a thatched one was burned down in the 1870's by some tenants in the townland of Treenabontry. It appears that the principal of the school at the time was an agent for the landlord and some of the tenants had been threatened with eviction. This landlord fearing for his own safety subsequently called off the evictions. The second school was built by Canon Judge who was P.P. at the time and the third and present schoolhouse was a four roomed structure built by Canon O'Grady, P.P. in the late 1890's. The stones from a haunted house near the fort were used in the construction. Reports of lights in the school at night time abound and it is believed the fairies have a 'claim' on Lismirrane school. The name on the nomenclature reads Lismerraun. In 1939, Dudley Solan, the then principal wrote: 'The name probably comes from Lios an meadhran or the lios (fort) in which people were put astray.' Its most famous past pupils are the O'Dwyer brothers. Paul was a well known attorney in the U.S who always sought justice for the underprivileged. In 1976 the O'Dwyer Cheshire Home was opened in his original homestead on a site donated by him. He worked tirelessly throughout his lifetime to ensure its patients enjoy a top class standard of care. Paul's brother Bill, was elected Mayor of New York and later appointed U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Lismirrane N.S. closed its doors for the last time in 1987, and the pupils travelled to the brand new school, Scoil Naomh Tóla, erected in 1987. top

Paul O'Dwyer

Shraheens National School

The old national school in Shraheens, a one-roomed building, officially opened its doors in 1882, to one hundred and twenty pupils. Over fifty pupils attended school there in 1881, having enrolled between November and Christmas of that year, but it was March of the following year when official classes commenced in Shraheens N.S. The opening of the school was a great relief to the parents and children in the area, as the children had previously had to travel long distances for their education. The first manager of the school was the Rev. Canon John O'Grady, Parish Priest of Bohola. at the time. By 1900, there were approximately 100 pupils in attendance, and twenty years later there were 78
The 'new' old school
A new school was built and opened in 1937 at a cost of £1,800. By this stage, the original number of pupils attending the old school was halved, and the new school opened its doors to 60 children. The numbers in attendance continued to decline, with 55 pupils registered in 1954. By the time Shraheens School closed its doors in 1972, only 20 pupils watched as the key was turned in the lock for the last time. Those children completed their primary education in the new pre-fab school in Bohola at the rear of the church.
Teachers in Shraheens
The teachers in Shraheens down through the years, in both the old and the new schools, included. Michael and Mrs. King, Martin Foye, Miss Bridget King, Miss Mary Dunleavy, Mrs. Walsh, Mrs. McDonagh, Mrs. Kitty Sheridan (nee Collins), Miss Martha Kenny, Mrs. Clare Hope, Miss Bridie Kilgallon, Mrs. Marie Conlon (nee McDonagh), Miss. Moira Ruane, Mrs. Mansfield, Miss Ann Gavigan, Miss Bridie Fleming, Mrs. Golden, Mrs. B. Forde, Mrs. Gavigan, and Mrs. Hughes.

The Prefabricated School

The prefab school behind the church in Bohola village opened in 1971, and children from Shraheens, Tooromeen and Carragowan Schools made the journey every morning for sixteen years until the school closed in 1987. The prefab is used today as the Parish Centre, with meetings and gatherings being held there regularly.
Teachers in the pre-fab school included, Michael Doyle, Principal, Mrs. Marie Conlon, Miss Ann Gavigan and Michael Healy. top

Scoil Náisiúnta Naomh Tóla/Bohola National School

October 22, 1987 was a very special day for both the parents and children of Bohola as they witnessed the opening of a brand new school. What had once been a dream had now become reality. The schools prior to this were in very poor condition and the fight for this school had being ongoing for over twenty years. The pre-fab school in Bohola had served the children well for sixteen years, but it was only ever intended as a temporary measure, and the wooden structure was not designed to withstand the Irish weather indefinitely. The Parish Priest of Bohola at the time, an t-Athair Padraig Ó Fionnáin, decided to build a new school on the Bishop's property in Treenduff. The Board of Management of the School began fundraising, and over twenty thousand pounds was collected. What had been for years a seemingly fruitless struggle now began to look like a dream coming true. Work on the new school commenced on November 25th, 1985, and the school was finally opened for classes in September, 1987.
Mr. Sean Calleary, T.D., performed the opening ceremony. Sadly, the man without whose hard work the new school might still be a pipe dream, an t-Athair Ó Fionnáin, was unable to attend the ceremony due to ill health, and he has since passed away, Beannacht Dé ar a anam.
That October day in 1987 was a very special day for Bohola and for education, as from then on, the children of the Parish received their schooling in comfortable and modern surroundings.
The four teachers who began teaching in the new school when it opened: Michael Doyle (Príomh-oide), Mrs. Marie Conlon, Miss Ann Gavigan and Michael Healy. In October 1996, Mr Doyle took early retirement and Michael Healy became the new Príomh-oide, while Ms. Áine Henry became the fourth member of the teaching staff based at the school. The visiting teachers are Mrs. Noone, Mrs. Frost and Ms. Kilcoyne.
The commitment to education in Bohola is as strong today as it was in the days of the hedge school. While there have been many curricular and societal changes the schools of yesterday and Scoil Naomh Thóla have the same general aims-the betterment of the pupils. This is made much easier in modern surroundings. Well done to our predecessors. They deserve the highest praise. top

An tAthair Pádraig S. Ó Fionnáin, Canónach

Founder member of Cumann na Sagart
Canon P. S. O'Fionnain S. P
1916 ~ 1988
Very Rev. Padraic Canon Finan, or An tAthair Pádraic Ó Fionnáin S.P.as he preferred to be known was Parish priest of Bohola from 1979 until illness forced his retirement in 1987. During his time in Bohola his flock held him in high regard. A rather shy man this most able of pastors found time for everyone's needs right up to the time of his illness. All who came in contact with him never doubted his sincerity and obvious concern for their problem no matter how mundane. His special attention to the elderly and sick of his parish was the hallmark of his ministry.
He championed the cause of our Irish culture long before it became fashionable. Bohola people were greeted as Gaeilge and a conversation would easily be struck up with him on a variety of topics including such diverse topics as local history and D.I.Y. Many is the parishioner who had their faulty TV or wireless repaired by the P.P. who took great pleasure from solving the most intricate electrical problems.
Irish music and dance was the other aspect our culture that Fr. Finan sought to nourish. It gave him great satisfaction to see the school children attend music classes on Thursdays. In those years the late Mrs. Murphy of Foxford accompanied by her husband Martin and daughter Maureen were the music teachers. Past pupils will remember his exhortations to them to practice.
Long before he was appointed to Bohola a move to build a new school had been initiated but with little success. Due to his illness he could have been forgiven for inaction on this project. However he lobbied constantly through the early to mid eighties to provide us with the magnificent building we now enjoy teaching and learning in. Sadly, illness caused his absence on opening day but glowing tributes were paid to him in recognition of his efforts to provide modern facilities for the young students of Bohola. Seomra a ceathar, occupied by rang V and VI proudly displays the Irish version of his name on a brass plaque as you enter.
Fr. Finan was a founder member of Cumann na Sagart, an organisation for priests who were interested in promoting the Irish language and culture. As president of Conradh na Gaeilge in Mayo he did all he could to foster a love and use of the Irish language. He was also a member of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and did much to tape-record the traditional music and songs of the older people of the area.
All who knew him remember him with affection.
Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dilis. top

Folklore & Seanfhocail around Bohola

· Mura gcurfadh tú san earrach ní bhanfadh tú san fhómhar.
· May you live to be a hundred years with one extra year to repent.
· Ní hé lá na gaoithe lá na scollop.
· A little fire that warms is better than a big fire that burns.
· Aitníonn ciaróg, ciaróg eile.
· Wide is the door of the little cottage.
· In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship and never in want.
· May you have warm words on a cold evening, A full moon on a dark night.And the road downhill all the way to your door.
· May the Lord keep you in His hand. And never close His fist too tight on you.
· May the roof above us never fall in, ( And may we friends gathered below never fallout)
· On Candlemas Day, a good goose will lay. On Valentine's Day, any goose will lay.
· Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
· He who bathes in May will soon be laid in clay.
· One good thing is better than twenty bad things.
· May there be a fox on your fishing-hook and a hare on your bait, and may you kill no fish until St. Brigid's Day.
· The nearer to Church, the farther from God. top


People around Bohola in the nineteenth century relied on cures and superstitions, which had been handed down from generation to generation, rather than on the advice of the local doctor, either because of the expense involved, or disbelief in his prescribed cures.
'Good health' and a naggin of poitín'
Poitín was considered as good as a medicine and easier to take. The most widely used mixture was boiled milk with poitín for nagging chest colds. Another use for poi tin was to rub it into arthritic limbs to give ease of pain. Mustard and linseed oil were also in common use as cures. Goose grease was collected at Christmas and preserved against the day someone was suffering from chest congestion. Many of these traditional cures are still practised to this day. The seventh son of a seventh son was reputed to have a cure for ringworm and many people still visit seventh sons.
Cures for whooping cough
A cure for whooping cough could be obtained from a couple who each had the same surname. The husband and wife had to take a drink from a glass of water. Then the remainder of the water was given to the sick child.
Giye us this day our daily garlic
Garlic was used for almost four hundred years in cough syrups. Eating a clove of garlic a day was believed to help fight infections. This belief originated from the Romans, who gave garlic to their workmen and soldiers, believing co it would give them strength and courage.
A cabbage patch full of cures
As well as being a very popular dish with the Irish, a leaf of cabbage, when applied to the affected area, was believed to heal ulcers, wounds and gangrene. Coughs and hoarseness were also treated with cabbage syrup. Cabbage boiled in milk was also applied to the skin and used to heal blisters.
Flower power and weeds that heal
Many common flowers were also believed to have healing powers, including marigolds and daisies, the leaves of which were believed to heal wounds. Some local people also believed in the healing powers of certain weeds. One man from Toocananagh is supposed to have been cured of his rheumatism after eating the thorns of a thistle. top

Boils, burns, scalds and cuts

Chickweed was used for curing boils. The weed was boiled with potatoes and when boiled, the juice was added to a naggin of paraffin oil, and the mixture was applied to the boils. The common nettle was used for curing measles. The roots were boiled in milk and given to the afflicted person to drink. Boils seem to have been quite a common affliction long ago, as there were a variety of cures available for and wrapped in a cloth. A slightly more complicated cure for boils involved going to a place where three rivers met, and making the sign of the cross on the boils three times with the water of the river. This cure only worked on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Many more boils were cured by finding three worms in one hole and making the sign of the cross on the boils with the worms on Monday, Thursday, and the following Monday. The worms were then put back into the same hole.
A cure for burns involved pulling the rind off an ash tree and boiling it. When boiled, it was then mixed with butter and suet. The mixture was wrapped in a cloth and applied to the burn. An alternative cure made use of the humble spud. A raw potato was split in two, and one half was rubbed on the bum.
Scalds were cured with a rotten stick, believe it or not! The trick was to dry the stick, break it into very fine pieces with a hammer, wrap a cloth round the pieces, and apply to the scald.
Cuts probably helped to keep the house clean in the old days, because cobwebs were believed to heal when applied to the cut. So a mother of eight or ten pairs of knees, which were more than likely constantly falling over and getting cut, was not very likely to have many cobwebs in the house!
Teeth, throats and ears
Years ago, visiting the dentist was a privilege which was reserved for the wealthy, and it's far from fillings and false teeth that the people of old Bohola were raised. However, they had their own ways of dealing with dental problems. A very popular cure for toothache, and a not so unpleasant one at that, was to have a few smokes of a pipe. Much more agreeable than the dentist's dreaded drill of today!
For sore throats, potatoes were roasted, bruised, wrapped in a cloth and applied to the throat. Another cure for sore throats involved warming salt and applying it to the throat. Earaches were treated by heating an onion in front of the fire and putting a bit of it in the ear. top

Customs and Traditions

The people of Bohola lived their lives by certain customs and traditions, most, of which is now only a memory. Here is a selection of some of them:
A visitor would have to take his turn at the churn as he entered a cabin. If he failed to observe this custom, the churned milk would produce no butter.
While churning was in progress, the visitor was not supposed to take a live coal from the fire outside to a field to light a pipe, for fear the butter would disappear.
The custom of making a fool of somebody on April the 1st can be traced back to at least the early eighteenth century. In Ireland a favourite trick was that of 'sending the fool farther'. One way of doing this was to send a child to a neighbour's house to borrow a glass hammer. On reaching the house, the child would be told that it had been given to some other neighbour and that he should call at his house the joke continued as long as the innocent child allowed it or until some neighbour took pity on him and sent him home.
Some people 'arranged' for their first visitor of the New Year to be a dark-haired male as this would ensure luck.
A red haired woman was to be avoided en route to the fair.
Black cats were very popular and considered lucky.
Horse shoes were nailed to barn doors in the 'U' position as the upside down way would cause the luck to run out on both sides of the shoe.
People hoped for snow in December because of the old proverb, 'A green Christmas makes a fat graveyard.' But the month of December was a cheery one which saw the start of preparations for Christmas. For most people, Christmas really began weeks in advance and trips to the local town were made to buy dried fruit, candles, drink, spices, tobacco and clothes. The Bohola villagers brought butter, fowl, eggs and vegetables to town markets to sell and do their own shopping with the proceeds!
Christmas trees and Christmas cards, customs introduced in Victorian times, were bought and cribs, symbolising the birth of Jesus, were made.
Christmas Eve was a day of fasting, and the next day's tasty dinner of turkey or goose would be eagerly anticipated throughout the fast!
On Christmas night every window in the house was lit by a candle. The people of Bohola believed that each house in the area was graced with the presence of the Blessed Mother and her Son, and the candles were a sign of welcome. On St. Stephen's Day, the younger people in the parish would go front house to house 'mummering', dressed as 'wran' boys in old clothing, with their faces disguised. In December 1996 the senior classes performed their own version of this custom on the school stage as part of 'Seó na Nollag' The drama entitled 'Buachaillí an dreoilín featured a Bohola family awaiting the arrival of a son at Kiltimagh Station, the subsequent party and the arrival of the wren boys.
July was known as 'the hungry month' or 'the month of shaking out of bags'. At this time, the bags containing the leftovers of flour and meal from the previous year's harvest were shaken out, the last scraps used, and the bags laid ready for the new season. Potatoes were the chief crop, and by July, the previous year's supply was almost exhausted, while the new crop would not ripen until the end of the month.
Bohola and the Famine
Many Bohola people died during 'Black '47', the year in which the great famine was at its worst. Many of the victims passed out on the roadside, and died where they fell.
In later years, the places where they had fallen became known as the 'hungry grass' (an fear gorta), and according to local stories, any man who walked through this grass experienced the sufferings of the dying victim.
Feast Days
The Irish celebrate several feast days throughout the year, and many of these have special legends or rituals associated with them. Bohola people celebrated various feasts from St. Brigid's Day to Christmas in the following ways:
There are many customs attached to St. Brigid's Day, which falls on February 1st. Legend has it that one day Brigid was at the deathbed of an old pagan chieftain to whom she tried in vain to explain the gospels. As she sat on the rush-covered floor she picked up a bunch of rushes and began to weave a cross. She showed it to the chieftain and was able to convert him to the Christian faith just before he died. Since then, on the eve of her feast, people make these crosses to hang in their houses and on byres as a protection against evil.
Years ago in Bohola, local children dressed up and went from house to house gathering pennies, calling out as they passed:

"A penny for the Biddy".
May there be a fox on your fishing-hook
And a hare on your bait
And may you kill no fish until St. Brigid's Day.

Shamrock was, and still is, worn to celebrate the feast of St. Patrick, who first came to Ireland in 432 AD. It is said that he walked the road from the Stage into Bohola on his way from the reek in 441 AD. The school band has become a regular feature of St Patrick's Day having a recital on the feast day after mass for the entertainment of parishoners. It was also called on to provide music on the ocassion of the sod turning for the local community centre in 1992 and for the Fr. Costello's Siolver Jubilee Celebration of his ordination in 1999. It also takes its place alongside the best bands in the land at the Kiltimagh parade.

On June 23rd, bonfires were lit to celebrate St. John's night. The embers from the fire were taken and thrown into the fields where cattle were grazing, in the belief that this would protect the cattle. The tradition of lighting bonfires on this night is still carried on, and one which is very much enjoyed by the children.

Garland Sunday was celebrated on the last Sunday of June, and a fair was usually held in Loughkeeran, Many people from Bohola travelled to this fair. Traders from neighbouring towns, including Castlebar and Swinford, set up stalls, and goods such as sweets and fruit were sold. Shoppers were charged a high price for these items, but as the day progressed, prices fell considerably.

The feast of the Blessed Assumption of Our Lady (August 15) saw people leaving Bohola, on foot, to make the pilgrimage to Knock.

All Saints Night which falls on November 1, or Hallowe'en, as it is more popularly called, is still a favourite time of the year for children in Bohola. Years ago, young boys and girls from the parish went ducking for apples and pennies, while others were engaged in doing mischievous things, such as kicking cabbages. Today, the children wear spooky masks, and call to neighbours' houses trick or treating. Between Hallowe'en and All Souls' Day (Nov. 2), customs centred on death, and on the festival of All Souls itself. Prayers were recited for the repose of the souls of the dead. Many Irish people believed that dead members of the family would return to visit their old home on this night, and care was taken to show that they were welcome. The family retired to bed early, leaving the door unlatched, a good fire burning in the hearth, and the table laid with a place for each of its dead members. top


Years ago, people could predict the weather forecast, often with an uncanny degree of accuracy that today's meteorologists would surely envy! It was believed that by observing certain 'signs', a person would know whether rain, hail, sleet, snow or sunshine was on the way. Many of these traditions were passed on as sayings:
Rainbow at night, shepherd's delight.
Rainbow in morning, shepherd's warning.
If the cat turns its tail to the fire, rain is on the way. If the cat scrapes wood, storm approaching.
When the cattle cluster on the hill, good weather.
Swarm of insects on a summer's evening, bad weather.
When there is a white stripe on the sky towards Balla, it is a sure sign of rain. Other signs that rain is not too far away include: If the soot falls down the chimney; if a dog starts eating grass; if Neiphin and Croagh Patrick are covered with fog.
Sure signs that frosty weather is approaching include: If the night is very starry; If the wind comes from the East; If the stars in the sky appear to be very near and they shine very, very brightly.
Signs that snow is on the way include: If the wind comes from the North; If the curlews are flying low and calling loudly.
In January if the sun appear - March and April pay full dear
A misty winter brings a pleasant spring, A pleasant winter a misty spring.
March - in like a lion and out like a lamb.
A wet and windy May fills the barn with oats and hay.
A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay.
A drop of rain in June makes the farmer whistle a merry tune. A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
A Saturday moon comes seven years too soon. When the moon rises red it is a sign of frost.
When the new moon is thin and sharp it is the sign of wet weather.
If there is a halo around the moon it is a sign of stormy and wet weather. top


In years gone by, most fathers preferred to have sons, who could fend for themselves, rather than daughters, because when it came to matching their daughters with a suitable husband, they would need a good dowry.
The Dowry
The matchmaker who was often a relative had to know how much the dowry or fortune and on the basis of the amount, he would choose a suitable partner. At that time, dowries were between £230(€292) and £250(€317), and the matchmaker received a bottle of whiskey for his help. Sometimes, animals, instead of money, were used as dowries. The couple would meet once, and they would not see each other again until the day they were to be wed.
The Big Day
On her wedding day, the bride, wearing a 'costume' of white, was collected from her father's house by her intended, who wore a suit, and brought to the church on horseback.. Some of the more wealthy couples might travel in a coach or side-trap which was drawn by two horses. Most people got married on Wednesdays and Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays were not very popular days for weddings, while Shrovetide was the most popular time of the year to get married.
It was a custom in those days to tie an old shoe to the back of the coach to bring the couple good luck. It was believed to be bad luck if any person entered the new home on the morning of the wedding before the newly-weds. Some said that if this happened, the pair would have bad luck for the rest of their lives.
Most brides wore white, but there were other colours and different traditions associated with each colour-
"Married in white, she has chosen all right.
Married in blue, she's sure to be true.
Married in yellow, she'll be ashamed of her fellow.
Married, in grey, she will go far away. "
The ceremony was short and consisted of the blessing of the rings and the taking of the marriage vows, no Mass was celebrated. Each man invited to the wedding ceremony arrived on horseback, and it was the custom of the time that he carry a lady on the horse behind him. The church ceremony was open to all, while invitations were issued for the reception, and people who attended both the marriage and the reception were collectively known as 'the drag'.
The bride and groom, followed by the drag, would return to the bride's house, where they sat down to the traditional wedding feast - bacon, cabbage and potatoes, washed down with generous measures of porter! Poitín and whiskey were also served, and the dancing continued until the early hours of the mornIng, WIth some wedding celebrations even lasting for two or three days! After she married, it was considered unlucky for the bride to return to her own home for a number of weeks.


Bohola people mourned the passing of loved ones with a wake, which could last for anything up to three days, and the wake-house would always be full of sympathisers. The body of the departed was laid out on the bed and left for three hours after death before it was prepared for burial. .
Dressing the corpse.
Neighbouring women would help the female relatives to clean the body and dress it in the burial clothing. The deceased's eyes, if open, were closed with the thumbs, or by placing pennies on the eyelids. A bandage, known as as the 'marú bhaist' was wrapped tightly around the head in order to close the mouth. In the wake house, it was considered lucky to cover all mirrors and stop all clocks. Stories were told and games were played to help pass the long night.
Rich tea and Sympathy
Clay pipes and tobacco or 'baccy' was passed around, and refreshments were provided for visiting sympathisers. A number of games were also traditionally played in the house, on the night of the wake. One of these involved a man kneeling down and putting his hand behind his back. Another man would slap him twenty times on the back if he could stand the pain. The man inflicting the slaps would then have to kneel down and take his turn at being slapped, and the game would continue until a winner was found.
The rosary was recited the following morning, and the keeners came to the house to wale over the body. Bohola men, as well as women, did the keening. When the coffin was being removed from the house, the chairs on which it rested were turned the opposite way, and Holy water used outside the house was never taken back in.
The final resting place
The body was taken to the graveyard by a horse-drawn carriage and relatives carried the coffin from the carriage to the graveside. The funeral procession would often be a mile long and four to six people deep. If the corpse was that of a woman, either her brothers, or six men with the same maiden name carried the coffin. Michael Murphy of Kiltimagh was the undertaker who took care of Lismirrane townland, while pat Campbell of Swinford was undertaker in the Clooneem area. Micksey Clarke and Aiden O'Hora are the present day undertakers.
Clay pipes used inside the house were buried with the corpse. Relatives of the deceased dressed in black for a period of a year as a mark of respect. No member of the family got married or socialised during that period. top

Traditional Life in Bohola

Once upon a long ago in rural Ireland, in the days, and nights, before tele,ision and video, the local visiting house gave people the chance to relax after a hard day's work, and entertained them with hours of song, dance, and storytelling.
In Bohola, rambling houses were scattered throughout every townland, indeed all the neighbours called on each other to such an extent that almost every house was a visiting house in its own way. The blazing turf fire cheered many a weary heart, and there was always room for the visitor to pull up a stool and sit near the heat. The events of the day would be discussed and someone with a copy of the 'Western' or 'Connaught' might read it aloud by the light of a flickering candle, stopping every so often as the listeners threw in comments of their own. Copies of 'Old Moores Almnac' and the 'Messenger' were also read and discussions often centred on local fairs, with the man who had just bought or sold a cow or bullock telling his tale. As the night went on, the mood usually lightened, and someone might be persuaded to sing a song or ballad, or knock an ould tune out of the fiddle. The more active men and women might dance a set or two on the flagstone floor, while the fiddler and tin whistler would race to keep up.
By far the most popular visitor to any house was the storyteller, or seanchaí, who could usually be relied on to scare the wits out of listeners with his spine-chilling tales of ghosts and visitors from the hereafter. A lot of old houses in Bohola were believed to be haunted, and villagers were afraid to pass them at night, especially after spending a night listening to the storyteller!
In later years, when the first radios came to the parish, people continued to gather in the houses which were lucky enough to have one. Sheridans'was the first house in Bohola to have a radio, and it was moved from the old house to the new one. Some well-known visiting houses in Bohola included John Higgins's in Ardacarra, which was a great card-playing house, and Tom Staunton's and Pat Lavin's, which were both in Toocananagh.
During the winter months, dancing masters would often hold classes in the dance halls. One such man was called Peter Tuohy, from Kiltimagh, and he taught many young Bohola children the fancy footwork involved in performing reels and hornpipes. He used to visit houses in the various townlands for periods of three weeks at a time, and hold classes there, or in a neighbouring barn. He charged a penny or tuppence per person, and taught the locals various dances.
Every village in Ireland at the time had its noted dancers, and Bohola was no exception. Pat Brennan was well a known the length and breadth of the country, and it is said that he danced in every village in the land. He later emigrated to America.
Damhsa Tí
Damhsa Tí or house dancing was very much a part of life in old Bohola,and anywhere there was a social gathering of any kind, there was always sure to be the odd hornpipe or jig flying around, catching the feet by surprise and causing them to leap into action.
In the 1920s, Moran's Store in Lisgorman carried out a brisk trade in eggs by day, while by night, countless n couples waltzed their way to love and marriage. The entry fee to this 'ballroom of romance' was one shilling, dancing g started at eight o'clock in the evening and lasted for as long as the musicians were able to play. Some of the well known musicians at the time included Mick Leonard who played the fiddle, John Swift who played the uileann pipes and Ned Byrne who played the accordion and the flute.
Many villages also held regular dances, usually at the weekend, and these were eagerly looked forward to. A céilí or dance was held in Malees of Shanaghy, where dancers were charged an entry fee of two pence in 1932, and a blind man (a grand-uncle of Martin McNicholas of Roslevin) played the flute.
Michael Corcoran's dance hall in Ardacarra was another great place for a hooley in the old days. Dances there were only held during the winter, and for the pricely sum of fourpence, villagers could dance the night away to the fiddle-playing of Johnny Byrne. He received five shillings a night, and as much tea as he could drink. Dances were also held in Sheridans' barns.
The dances weren't always confined purely to dancing, however, and many villagers would take it in turns entertaining each other, by singing a ballad or reciting a poem or verse.

The Bohola National School Marching Band

Our marching band was formed in 1992 comprising whistle and accordion players. Lessons were held in the school every Thursday and the tutors were Maureen Murphy and her mother and father, Martin from Foxford. Maureen took up a post in the Civil Service in Dublin sometime aroun 1994/5 and Mary Friel from Westport continued the ever-popular music classes. The band has grown under her direction and now takes part in the Kiltimagh St. Patrick's Day parade every year. Dancing teachers over the years include Dotie Redmond and Grainne Kelly.

Famous buildings and other structures

Bohola has its fair share of notable buildings and historical structures. First to spring to mind is the bronze statue in honour of Olympian athlete Martin J. Sheirdan who was born in Bohola in 1881. He like many before him and since was forced to emigrate where he became a prominent member of the Metropolitan police force in New York. In his spare time he trained for track and field events and showed all round talent in each. during his sporting career he won 5 gold, three silver and 1 bronze medal.The local community centre is named in his honour.

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