I am a Catholic and we had no Catholic School. But I went to school at the Grange. I remember the Head Teacher, Miss Hutton and a Miss Hayes and the vicar. I remember the vicar. I was only 4-year-old, I remember the vicar Mr Wragg. I went there for a time but they opened a bit of a school at our church.
I went there for a few years then they built that one between the two Trimdons. That’s where I went and that’s where I finished. We had some lovely teachers. Miss O’Connell, she was the first head teacher, a grand lady, I can see her now. They were strict but they were good, just as well.
You got the stick if you didn’t play the game but very few sticks I got. It was a good education, Miss O’Connell used to meet everyone in the yard on a morning, everyone was there.
I was in the school concert, singing. After Miss O’Connell left there was another woman called Miss Downey, another grand woman, she could play the piano, she could sing, she could whistle, she could do anything.
She organised the first concert in the school. When the concert was on it was packed. I was only a bit bairn and I sung two or three items. I many a time thought I should ask the teacher how to say poetry because I love poetry but it never crossed my mind, but I did my bit. There was another two lads, they are both dead now, the three of us did an act, we were all urchins, I was selling matches, Micky Redfern was selling papers and Harry Jones was shining boots. We did a comedy act. I used to walk about the stage selling matches and Miss Downey played the piano.
I wasn’t very good at sums but I was a good writer. She would come around looking at everybody’s books. It was all pen and ink then. Some were all blots but I was a lovely writer. She used to come to my book and there wasn’t a spot on it, it was lovely writing. She used to hold that book up, she would say look at this lad’s book. She would say, I wasn’t very good at sums, but she used to say ‘Egan your writing has saved you.’ She excused me for the sums because my writing was so good.
I was at school until I was 14. The school was St. William’s Catholic School and we had to walk there from the Village. We used to walk through the trees to school, where the cemetary is now. There were no gangs then, we had some lovely mates, we used to play football. We used to do a lot of walking. I was very good at history. I would get up and read poetry. They used to say when I was doing poetry you could hear me all over the school, I used to shout that loud.
She was always there to wait for us, anxious if we were late, in the Winter by the window, in the Summer by the gate.
Although we mocked her tenderly and took such foolish care, the long road home would seem more safe because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us she never could forget, and so I think of where she is, she must be watching yet.
Watching till we come home to her, anxious if we are late, watching from heaven’s window, waiting at heaven’s gate.