New School 1948

ADAMSTOWN NATIONAL SCHOOL 1948

In a world where everything is counted in monetary terms, the following just could not be bought- it is priceless!
A brief summary of  how this amazing story came to pass, is quiet a coincidence in itself,the present principal Mr. Nicholas Flynn,hails from Co. Leitrim. His mother and Mr. James Stenson are both members of the local St. Vincent de Paul Society, and in conversation Mrs. Flynn told him that Nicholas was Principal of Adamstown N.S Co. Wexford. Imagine her surprise when James Stenson proceeded to tell her that he actually worked on the building of the school back in 1948. Following this Mr. Flynn was at home in Leitrim one weekend and he met and had a long chat with Mr. Stenson, who is now in his late eighties and he was amazed at his remarkable memories from that time.  He told Mr. Flynn he would put his memories on paper and the following is his story in his own words.
”On the 21st July 1948 we travelled from Co. Leitrim to build a school in Co. Wexford and I know the day because it was the day of the Annual Show. We were surprised to see such a large crowd in the village until we were told that the Annual Agricultural Show was a very important day for local people. When I  say we I mean the following : Daniel McLoughlin Senior, in whose name the contract was awarded and signed, his three sons who were serving their apprenticeships, Daniel (Jun) Thomas and Terence (Terry) and a friend of my own Pee McLoughlin who worked alongside myself for a few years before 1948. He was from Eslin, Co. Leitrim and was a brother of P.J. McLoughlin, builder from Longford and myself James Stenson who is now the only person alive who worked on the school.
The first and most important item that evening was to secure lodgings and this we set about immediately. Daniel (Snr) and Daniel (Jun) got accommodation with a Mrs. Bradley, I think that was her name. Tommy and Terry got accommodation across the road but I forget the lady’s name although she provided Pee and myself with lunch every day during the contract. Pee and myself had the caravan and we were quite comfortable. The two lorries that brought all our gear was also McLoughlins, John(Stuch) Eslin, Co. Leitrim and John Joe Effernagh, Co. Leitrim.
The first work on our second day in Adamstown was to wire in the site and to organize the necessary building materials. The building was supervised from the OPW in Arklow. The architects were first Mr. Parnell Martin and later Mr. Higginbottom and the clerk of works was  Mr. Sammon a native of Co. Louth. The first material on the site was a load of 15 ton of lime organized through Carlow Sugar Co. All building materials came from the Wexford Timber Co., the sand and gravel was all bought and delivered by Mr. Phil Wilson from Killurin who owned and delivered over a wide area. After about a week organizing ourselves and the materials, we started work on the site, cutting and levelling foundations and getting the base ready for inspection by the clerk of works. We employed a local man, his name was Mosey Barnes and I must say he was most reliable. We also employed another man later in the contract, his name was Jim Whyte and was also very reliable. All the concrete blocks we had to make on the site and that took about five weeks to complete. We found the local people very friendly and helpful and especially the Miss. Jordans, who lived across the road, in what was a teacher’s residence. Their names were Katey and Winney and they had a niece whose name was Louise Hughes, also a teacher. I think she taught in Old Ross, but not sure. A man who was helpful to us when we first came to Adamstown was a Garda named Frank Dowd, he came from Jamestown, Co. Leitrim and was stationed in Carrigbyrne for many years.When we had the building of all the school walls complete we started on the roofs. The classroom roofs were slated and we were compelled to use Irish Quarry Slates from Dromaleague, Co. Cork.   Jim Daly,who was a driver for Phil Wilson, and myself travelled to  Dromaleague on 1st  November 1948 and brought a full load of slates, about 15 tons, but when we came back to the bridge at Youghal there was a Council Order that no load over 5 tons was to cross the bridge. Daly said ” no way are we going to make three loads out of this and be here until morning”. He did not give me  time to leave the lorry and walk across, so it was the greatest fright of my life to feel the bridge shaking as we crossed with the heavy load.
The real problem now was the short days. As there was no electricity in rural Ireland at the time. We were in the dark from about 4.30pm. I heard of English surplus army dynamos for sale, so I got a spitfire dynamo and got it fitted to the concrete mixer and it gave us 20-12 volt lights and left us able to work until 10pm if we wished. Our working hours from then on was (8-1), (2-6), (7-10). We got all our windows and doors from Gillespie of Moyville, Co Donegal, a firm of joiners I worked with in 1942-1943. When we got all the windows fitted and glazed ,we did work with the help of our new light to make and fit presses, blackboards and boarded floors, with the result that we got finished and moved on to work on the school in Caroreigh. In June 1949 our social life in Wexford was all the football and hurling and Terry McLoughlin played football with Camross and they won a County Championship in 1949. We attended many dances in Taghmon, Camross, Old Ross and Clonroche, so we did have a social life apart from the long hours and hard work, also nearly every Sunday we went to Curracloe.  I often feel sad that so many of my old friends have passed on, but I hope to a better world’.

Rates in 1949 (Per 10 Ton Load)
Sand & Gravel from Killurin (sand £3 & gravel £2-10 )
Meals in Dungarvan Arms Hotel on 1st Nov 1948  £1.70. (2 lunches and 2 evening meals)
Cost of cement per ton  £5.00.
Wages for construction workers 1/6 per hour and 2/- skilled.,

In the years 1948/49/50 Phil Wilsons wife had a restaurant called Cairo in the Bullring, Wexford. We dined there every Saturday evening on our usual visits to Wexford. The older generation in Wexford during our time there always told us, if we were looking for wives, the best place in Ireland to find them was on the street of Wexford on a Saturday night, but it seems our luck was in other areas.
Good luck and good health to all connected with Adamstown National School and its Staff.
James Stenson- Builder. (May 2007 )

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