I’ve lived in East Windham for over 30 years and have only recently learned some of its history. The first thing I discovered was why the corner of Nash and Falmouth roads is sometimes referred to as Ireland Corner. It turns out that when Windham was divided into school districts, this section of East Windham was District 10 and the home to many people of Irish descent.

The Elder, Varney and Fields families were among those who occupied the neighborhood and who all pitched in to build the district’s first one-room schoolhouse. According to Windham’s longtime historian, the late Kay Soldier, this structure was located on the right hand side of the dirt road that eventually led to Baker Mountain. This makes me wonder if would have been at the corner of today’s Nash and Haskell roads.

By 1840, there were 20 families living in the area with 65 students at Ireland School. The old building was only suitable for 32 students and this prompted the construction of a second school at the corner of Nash and Falmouth roads. This school was destroyed by fire in 1900 and was replaced with a third structure where children attended classes until 1944.

A former student who attended Ireland School in the 1920s recalled fetching water for his class from the nearby Baker Brook. Two boys would be sent to gather kindling wood and water before the day’s lessons began. The building remained operational after its closure as a school and later served the community as a Legion hall and a church school until it burned down in the 1950s.

Nash Road may have been named for the Nash sisters, Julia, Alice and Clara. In the earlier part of the 20th century, they operated a farm stand at the corner of Route 302 and Nash Road, where the rest area is today. Alice raised chickens and Julia made fudge to sell at the stand. They also sold strawberries, blueberries, ice cream and candy. Clara taught music to local children and was a teacher at Ireland School for a time.

Another landmark at the corner of Nash and Falmouth roads was the Haskell Farm. Winnie Haskell and her brother, Walter, lived there for many years. Former area residents recollected Winnie as a good housekeeper and incredible cook. “They were always busy with the farm,” recalled former Windham Historical Society member Margaret Pratt Fletcher, now deceased, in an interview she gave in 1998. “They had three or four stoves going all the time, each with wood to be carried to them. The stove in the kitchen was going full-speed all year long. Every year, Winnie would put up 40 quarts of tomatoes. She would pick the fruit, wash and sterilize the jars and then can them in boiling water. Then she’d carry them into the cellar to cool. All this on a hot day in August!” The farmhouse is still there at the corner and is now home to apartment units.

The Ireland area of Windham continues to have a rural feel to it. There are farms on Haskell Road where you can see cows grazing in the pastures. Baker Brook still ripples along and gurgles on warm weather days. I don’t know how many residents of the area are Irish, but one thing is for sure, they’re lucky to live in this serene and picturesque part of our town.

Haley Pal, a Windham resident, is an active member of the Windham Historical Society.

Schoolmarm Marion Hodgkin and her scholars at Ireland School.

There are still open pastures on East Windham’s Haskell Road.

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