The Building of St. Garvan’s NS
One afternoon in September 2011 an unexpected visitor arrived to St. Garvan’s N.S., Caroreigh.
He introduced himself as Mr. James Stenson from Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim. James was 90 years of age at the time and was accompanied by his wife Maura and daughter Patricia. Mr. Stenson informed us that he was the contractor that built the school in 1949 and that this was his first visit back to Wexford since that time. He met with Jim Dempsey, Principal; Fr. David Murphy, former Chairperson of the BOM; the staff of the school; and some of the students.
Mr. Stenson lived on site in a caravan and often worked until 10 p.m. at night. Blocks for the construction of the school were made on site. In total the job took 7 months to complete. Construction began in May 1949 and was completed by Christmas. The stone bearing the school name on the front of the school was sourced in Boyle, Co. Roscommon.
In addition to building Caroreigh NS, he built schools in neighbouring parishes, Adamstown NS and Littlecullenstown NS. Mr. Daniel McLoughlin worked on these jobs with Mr. Stenson. It being the late forties and due to the end of the Second World War, craftsmen were scarce, so there was little or no local employment on the site. Many local men were working in Britain rebuilding infrastructure after the war.
The building consisted of only two classrooms. Toilets were not part of the building. Dry toilets were to the back of the school. However, a store for fuel was part of the building, and fireplaces was used to provide heat. The chimneys are still visible today. Today those classrooms are used by the Special Education Teacher and as a staff room. The total cost of the project was £4,098.
James and his wife were invited to attend the opening of the latest extension of the school in June 2012. Unfortunately, he did not attend on medical grounds. However, Fr. David Murphy, Chairperson BOM at the time, travelled to Carrick-on-Shannon to present him with a painting of the school by Anne Marie Nolan as it was in 1949 and as it is now.
Mr Jimmy Stentson and Mr Dempsey, Principal, outside St. Garvan's NS, September 2011.