The 70th anniversary of the famed Rosary High School in Carrick-on-Shannon is to be marked by a Mass and social function for past pupils and teachers in The Bush Hotel on Friday, December 7.
The idea has come about after a number of past pupils decided to commemorate the anniversary of the school’s foundation in 1942 by the late Mrs Mary Kathleen Lynch.
In September 1942, Mrs Kathleen Lynch (nee Mulhern), Drumlummon, Carrick-on-Shannon opened a Secondary School for boys at Cortober, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Roscommon under approval of Bishop Doorley of Elphin and Fr Casey, Drumlion.
Kathleen received her primary and secondary education from the Marist Sisters in the town. A scholarship student, she graduated from University College Galway with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Higher Diploma in Education and in 1927 she returned to live in Drumlummon and taught in the Marist Secondary School at Mount St. Joseph.
Subsequently, she married Frank Lynch from Kiltoghert, an official in Leitrim County Council, and they were married in 1939 and set up home in Cortober. They had five children, Charles, Michael, twins Helen (RIP) and Margaret, and Anthony.
At that time women had to give up their jobs when they got married, but Kathleen Lynch was a passionate believer in equality. She believed education was a right, not a privilege, and encouraged by her husband she set about turning her house into a school, and for the first time, secondary education for boys became available in the Carrick-on-Shannon area for an affordable fee.
Originally twelve students from both sides of the bridge attended and over the years the Rosary High School grew and flourished as a centre of learning. In 1950 it moved to a new premises, Shannon View House, (the house now owned by Kathleen’s son Michael) and welcomed boys from around the area including Elphin, Croghan, Boyle, Ballinamore, Keshcarrigan, Drumshanbo, Mohill and Carrigallen.
Throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s it continued to enrich the sporting, cultural and literary life of its environs.
During this time, Kathleen also organised a number of celebrity concerts in The Gaeity featuring such acts as Eugene Lambert (puppeteer), Monica Bonni (xylophone), Charles Lynch (pianist), Bill Thompson (tenor) and Mike Nolan (comedian).
Music was very much part of the school and she was very much involved in the development of the person.
The school’s success and contribution to modern education bear ample evidence to the dedication, determination and selfless spirit of this pioneering teacher. She had turned a dream into reality.
Kathleen Lynch is fondly remembered by many of her past pupils and nothing gave her greater happiness than to hear of their success. Her kindness and understanding were legendary, as was her prowess as a teacher.
When the Rosary High School closed in 1971 due to rationalisation, Kathleen returned to a teaching post with the Marist Sisters. She retired from teaching in 1975 but reatined a lifelong interest in things educational.
Little could she have dreamed that the seed she had sown in 1942 would have helped to prepare the way for modern education.
The late great author, John McGahern, in his book ‘Memoir’ claimed that only for Kathleen Lynch he would not have been educated. Because she opened her school, the Presentation Brothers later followed and opened a school in Carrick-on-Shannon and that is where he received his secondary education.
Mrs Kathleen Lynch passed to her eternal reward on November 25th, 1986. RIP.
• A new website will be set up this month where past pupils can share memories and photographs from the past.
There was a hugely positive reaction to an initial proposal to host a commemorative social event in this paper a number of week ago.
Past pupils are invited to contact the organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively ring/text Anthony Lynch 086-2550710, Peter Farrell 087-1131911, or Mattie Bourke 087-2553040 who will only be too delighted to hear from you.
People can register their intention to attend and this will allow the organisers to get a handle on the numbers interested. Thank you.