The Health Service


The Health Service was another area where a number of pupils from Lack School obtained employment. Most who entered the health service worked in the nursing profession. In the period to about 1960 the only route open to ex pupils seeking the necessary training and employment in the nursing profession was through emigration to England. While some second level education was desirable, many went direct from the national school.

The case of Margaret Hehir (Lack School, 1936) provides a good outline of the journey from Lack School to qualification as a nurse in England. Having left school at 14, Margaret worked on the family farm until she was about 21 years of age. She then decided to go to England to pursue a career in nursing. She first went to Cheam in Surrey and qualified as a nurse 3 years later. She then moved north to Burnley in Lancashire to train as a midwife and, once qualified, she went to Bristol Maternity Hospital. She was given a district for which she was responsible and used to cycle through the city visiting mothers and delivering babies, often in the middle of the night. By 1959, she was a state registered nurse, with first class honours, and a registered midwife. This she achieved on the basis of her Lack School education, as she never attended a secondary school.

By the 1960s, the Irish hospitals opened their doors to trainee nurses. At this stage applicants had the benefit of secondary education. A number of former Lack School pupils entered the Irish nursing service.

The following is a list of 16 Lack pupils to enter the nursing profession:

Year of RegistrationNameAddress
1907Frances HonanCoolsippeen
1915Mary (May) HonanCoolsippeen
1923Margaret SheehanLack
1928Margaret (Peggy) GavinArdnagla
1928Moya HehirGlencanane
1936Margaret HehirLack
1939Mary (May) CoughlanCoolsippeen
1949Mary McGuaneLisnafaha
1951Susan GriffinTonlegee
1951Mary HehirCrahera
1954Mary O'Dea/HayesCrahera
1960Susan(Bernadette) GarryClonfurish
1963Bernadette McNamaraLeimnaleha
1964Mairead KellyLack
1966Gerard GarryBurren
1968Geraldine McNamaraLeimnaleha

Medicine and Veterinary

Lack School also has the distinction of a former pupil attaining the position of medical doctor while another achieved the position of veterinary surgeon.

Dr. Michael O'Dea, Crahera

Dr Michael O’Dea from Crahera obtained his education at Lack School, where he registered in 1901, St Flannan’s College, Ennis and UCD, where he graduated as a medical doctor.

He received his postgraduate training at the Richmond and Hardwicke hospitals in Dublin and further training in hospital medicine in Wales.
He was a general practitioner in Kildysart for a number of years. In 1931 he was appointed to the Dispensary of Lisdoonvarna and Roadford. He continued in medical practice in Lisdoonvarna until his death on 22 June 1961.

He holds the distinction of being the first pupil from Lack School to graduate from secondary and university education. A period of 30 years would elapse before the next pupil, Vera Gavin, would sit the Leaving Certificate examination, which was introduced in about 1930. The second pupil to graduate from university is likely to have been Fr Patsy Kelly almost 50 years later.

Joseph O'Donnell MRCVS, Glencanane

Joseph O’Donnell MRCVS from Glencanane received his primary education at Lack School where he registered in 1967. He received his secondary education at Kildysart Vocational, Salesians Convent, Cahiracon and St Flannan’s College, Ennis.

He graduated from the Veterinary College UCD in June 1983.

Having practised in Ballina and Derry, he joined the veterinary hospital at Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. He practised as a partner in Brennan, O’Donnell & McManus at Dublin Road, Galway.