Saturday, 16 April 2011

N is for Nora's School Paper

I mentioned in the “H is for Hanora” post that I stumbled upon a piece of my Aunty Nora’s homework once when I Googled “Hanora Moynihan.” Let me tell you more about that.

Google took me to the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive and the "Schools' Manuscript Collection - My Home District / Bailiuchan na Scol - Mo Cheantar Féin" from 1936-37." The collection description says, "this sub-collection consists of a series of selected essays by schoolchildren from participating counties in Munster and Connacht entitled 'My Home District', a topographical description of their own locality which they were encouraged to write."

The children were encouraged to consult their parents and elders in the community and write up some of the history of their areas. I’ve looked at a few in the collection – and unfortunately, unlike what we’ve gotten used to with some other digitized collections like on Ancestry, you cannot browse this collection. You can however search in two useful ways. If you search by family name, you will get results either for the child who was the author of the paper, or sometimes for the adult who provided the information. You can also type in the name of a townland of interest and see if a paper was done on it. It is hit and miss. It would appear that a few children per school were selected, so not all townlands in Munster (Counties Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, Clare and Waterford) and Connacht (Counties Galway, Mayo. Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon) were covered. I did however find a full list of the papers included in the collection here.

My Aunt Nora’s paper, titled “My Home District,” lists the families resident at Shountullig, allowing us to compare the information to the previous censuses (which I will do in a future post on Shountullig). She was 12 when she prepared the paper. Here is the text:
“The name of my townland is Shountullig. It is in the parish of Schull and in the West Division of West Carbery. There is a population of about forty-six people in it. There is one Cullinane family, one Sullivan family, three Levis families, one Donovan family, one Moynihan family, one Hayes family, one Hodnett family and one Copithorne family and one Hegarty man in the townland. There are four Protestant families and seven Catholic families in it. There is but one person over seventy living there. She is eighty-three years of age. Her name is Mrs. Moynihan.
Houses were more numerous in former times. The old ruins were knocked down and drawn away. Some people sold their farms and went to live in America or Australia and other countries.

Nora Moynihan,




Obtained from my father, John Moynihan, 40 years”
Perhaps you didn’t realize that in the Republic of Ireland there were so many Protestant families, over forty percent in this townland. In West Cork, the Catholic and Protestant families lived and worked closely together. It was only a year or so ago, when I was studying the 1901 and 1911 Censuses, that I realized that the Levis family that my dad had spoken of with such regard was a Protestant family.

Aunty Nora’s paper leaves us with one mystery.

Who is the eighty-three year old Mrs. Moynihan? There was only one Moynihan family in the townland, my dad’s. Their grandmother, who would have been a Mrs. Moynihan, had died in 1933. Who was this Mrs. Moynihan? Perhaps she was a mother-in-law living with one of the other families? We haven’t figured it out yet. Dad very young in 1936 and doesn’t remember. He called Aunty Nora in Ireland and she couldn’t recall either. Would you remember the details of homework you did seventy-five years ago?

P.S. Wasn’t her handwriting lovely?


  1. Beautiful penmanship

  2. This was written by my neighbour. :) - Denise Hayes

  3. Glad you found the blog, Denise! What a coincidence; I just spoke to Aunty Nora yesterday.

    Any idea who the Mrs. Moynihan was that was mentioned in her paper?

  4. Mrs. Moynihan most probably my great grandmother Mary Tobin Moynihan, born in Kilcrohane March 27, 1857. She was the widow of Timothy Moynihan. They had over a dozen children, one of whom was my grandmother, Kate. Mary died in 1941 and is buried in the Dunbeacon Cemetery - the gravestone is here :
    In the 1930s, her son Richard was managing the property in Dunbeacon.

    Catherine Shea, Massachusetts

    1. Catherine, I am so pleased to see your comment. Mystery solved! And thank you for including the web page of the cemetery. I had never seen it before. Can't wait to go looking for grandfathers and uncles and more! I haven't been in the cemetery in 25 years. ~Kate