SCHOOLS


Education in Eglish in the Nineteenth Century

Cait Ui Laoghog



Roan National School Eglish

In the early nineteenth century there was no nationally-organised system of education in Ireland though many different types of school were in operation -Parochial Schools which dated back to the time of King Henry VIII and under the patronage of the Established Church, Charter Schools which were Protestant Boarding Schools, Schools of the Bible Societies, many small private schools and, of course, Hedge Schools. The latter came into existence because of the Penal Laws which made Catholic education illegal. From the time of Gardiner`s Relief Act [1782] these laws were somewhat less rigorously enforced but Catholic education remained technically illegal until the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 guaranteed a greater degree of emancipation for Catholics.

In 1731 it was reported that the parish of Clonfeacle (including Eglish) had five such schools, described as ‘popish schools’. The vast majority were co-educational with boys in the majority. While Catholic parents were desirous that their children receive a reasonable standard of education, they were reluctant to send them to schools under the supervision or patronage of the Protestant clergy. Hence the development of the ‘hedge school’ which was usually located in a place far removed from the prying eyes of those who were ready to report on any kind of ‘popish’ activity.

Details given in the Commissioners’ Report of all schools operating in Eglish parish in 1824 are given below. Spelling of townland names is that used in the report.


National Schools

In 1828 a select committee of the House of Commons studied the Reports of the Commission of Education Inquiry 1825-27, and it was decided to establish a national (i.e. nationwide) system. One school, at least, was to be set up in each parish and to be open to children of all religious denominations. There was to be combined secular and separate religious education, and each pastor was to have access to the schools, at the time set apart for Religious Instruction, to instruct children of his church. Assistance was to be given with the building of the schoolhouse. (A third of the cost had to be provided locally). Furnishings, teacher’s salary and books approved by the Board were to be provided. The site for the building was to be provided locally. A standard application form was provided and applications were to be accepted from: Catholic and Protestant clergymen (joint application);
Catholic clergyman and six members of Protestant laity;
laity of both churches (joint application). There was to be a standard curriculum. Irish language, music and history were to be excluded.

Derrycreevy: James Willliamson, a Presbyterian, ran a pay-school and earned about £8 per annum. His school was a ‘good house built of stone and lime with a thatched roof’ measuring 25 feet long by 14 feet wide and cost about £24 to build. The school was supported by the KPS. Lord Powerscourt, the landlord, gave £15 and the Rector £3 towards the cost of the building. Some small subscriptions were also raised in the neighbourhood.



Eglish School No.3 House

Crossteely: James Garland, a Roman Catholic, a pay-school, earned about £15 p.a. The schoolhouse was new, built of stone and lime with a thatched roof, 16ft by 21ft and cost about £40 most of which was granted by KPS. This school was also supported by the London Hibernian Society (LHS).


Knocknacloy: James Donnelly, a Roman Catholic, kept a pay-school. His income was about £7 per annum and his school a mud cabin. This school had no support from any outside source and depended on the payments of the pupils.


Eglish: William Harpur, Protestant, pay school about £10 a year. The schoolhouse, built of stone and lime with slated roof, belonged to the Presbyterian congregation, measured 25ft. by 14ft. and cost £20 to build. No support.

Eglish New School

Opened by Minister of Education

From The Courier and News - Thursday June 29 1933


Lovely weather favoured the opening of the new school at Eglish on Tuesday evening and seldom have such enthusiastic scenes been witnessed in the quiet little village.

The newly-erected school has accommodation for 70 pupils, in two class-rooms, and a wide corridor runs the full length of the building. The windows are of the most modern and up-to-date type and the health-giving rays of the sun can penetrate into every part of the building. A cloakroom is at each end of the school, fitted with basins and a pump adjoining the school supplies the water. There is also adequate sanitary accommodation, and a large play-ground, where the children should be very happy, and at the same time there will be little or no danger of accidents. The site is beautifully situated on an elevated piece of ground overlooking the village, in a field in Stilloga belonging to Mr Henry Knox, of Boland. Well laid out, winding paths which have been treated with tar-macadam, lead from the artistic entrance gates to the door at either end of the school.

The Dungannon Education Committee deserves to be highly congratulated in providing such a suitable building for the district, in which it will be a pleasure for teachers and children to work. There was a large and representative assembly at the opening ceremony, which was performed by Viscount Charlemont, V.LO., Minister of Education.

Viscount Charlemont was received at the entrance gates by Col. Howard and Mr J. Beatty, Secretary of the Education Committee, who introduced him to the teachers, Miss V.M. Sinnamon (principal) and Miss T. Reid, (assistant), and members of the Education Committee. His Lordship passed between the rows of school children which lined the path, and at the door he was introduced to the contractor, Mr Jas. Laffin, Lisburn. Mr James Hunter, B.E., the architect, presented a gold key to Viscount Charlemont, who formally opened the door.

Colonel Howard, who presided, said he was very pleased to be there that day to hand over the new school in the name of the Committee. The new school was rather long in maturing, but it was not the fault of the Committee. He did not think that anybody who saw the old school would question the need for a new one. The Ministry raised the question of amalgamation. Of course they all understood that the larger schools were better for the health of the children and the results. The amalgamation of three schools, Eglish, Knocknaroy and Tyghan was suggested, but on an inspection of the district they found they could not get a site reasonably convenient to all the districts, and owing to the number of small kids who were attending these schools they found that it would not be reasonable to ask them to go so far to a central school, in the winter. The Committee resolved and the Ministry agreed that a new school was necessary and trouble then arose about the site. It was a most extraordinary thing that whenever they wanted a site nobody wanted to give it, and then if they did take it, it was supposed to be the best piece of land in the country - (laughter) - and they usually wanted for the site the price of their whole farm. In that case they simply took the site and said they would give a good price, but they would not put a new school on a bad site. He thought they would agree that the present site was really very good and they would realise that for to give the children health and happiness a site like that was ideal. They had been hoping that Lady Charlemont would have been able to be present, but unfortunately doctor's orders precluded her from doing any public duty for some time.



Further information can be found in The Book of Eglish