Coney Island School

The first school on Coney Island was opened in July, 1862, with John Crolly as Principal. It was taken over by the Board of Education later that year. There were forty-five pupils on the rolls in 1862-63, but the average attendance was twenty-eight. This figure dropped to twenty in 1876.

The Inspector’s report, dated March, 1880, contained the following observations:

"Books fair. House and accounts, very fair. Order and cleanliness, good. Proficiency, very fair, except on grammar."

In 1882 John Crolly’s salary was withdrawn as, he had become "permanently incapacitated for duty." He was placed on retirement, as from April 1 of that year, and given a retirement gratuity of 124.00. He was replaced by Bridget Devaney. Her assistant, Mary Jane Harte, brought a charge of indecent assault against Inspector O’Connell in 1895. The charge was subsequently withdrawn and Miss Harte was dismissed and declared ineligible for further employment.

The Island School problems were by no means over. The following year Bridget Devaney was severely reprimanded and fined 2.00 for what was described as being "extremely inefficient in the discharge of her duties." She was replaced four years later by Miss M. Mitchell.

Coney Island School continued in existence until 1939. In the previous September the Department noted that there were only seven pupils on the rolls- only one of whom had been born on the Island, the others boarded on the Island with relatives or crossed from the mainland. The Manager, together with Mrs. Mary Leyden, the Principal, were informed of the decision to close the school on December 31, 1938. Subsequently, this deadline was extended to March 31, 1939, in order to give parents and guardians an opportunity to make alternative arrangements.

The pupils then were Mary, Edward and Sonny McFadden, Maura Casey, Biddy Fitzgibbons and Stephen F. Leyden.

The closure sparked-off heated exchanges in the Dail between the then Minister for Education and Opposition spokesman, General R. Mulcahy. The Sligo Independent made the following comment in Mary, 1939:

"The little known Island of Coney at Rosses Point is in the news as a result of the decision of the Minister of Education to close the Island school. What the maximum number of pupils is necessary to keep a school open we do not know, but seemingly the Coney Island school is outside the regulation number to maintain the services of a school efficiently.

"Admittedly, there has been a very large decrease in the population on the Island over this past number of years due, no doubt to the number of islanders who have moved to the mainland. Closing the school will, in our opinion, greatly hasten the decline in the Island population."

The school was finally closed in July 1940.

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