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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)


Hedge Schools or Pay Schools

Rathvilly Parish

by Miss K. OToole


An image of what a Hedge school might have looked like.
Source: www.movilleinishowen.com

Hedge Schools or Pay Schools of Rathvilly Parish by Miss K. OToole

THE PAROCHIAL Registers of Rathvilly Parish contain records in the handwriting of Rev. John Gahan, P.P., dated 1827 and 1829. These records contain particulars regarding the population both of Catholics and Protestants, the churches and the schools. As the National Education Act did not come into operation until 1829. The schools mentioned in these returns must be classed as Hedge Schools or Pay Schools. In the return for the year 1827, under the heading of "Attendance at Parochial School" (no endowment for any) the following particulars are given:

Rathvilly, Boys 209. Rathvilly, Girls 170.
Tineclash, Boys 86. Girls 58.
Knocklishen, Small Children, 40.
Maplestown, Small Children ,30.
Ballyhackett, Small Children, 70.

On the 17th January, 1829, Most Rev. Dr. Doyle (J.K.L.) wrote requiring information regarding the number of chapels in each parish, with their names, and "whether a public school-house be attached to it, and when built."

In his reply to this letter Fr, Gahan replied that there was "no public school-house in Rathvilly." He stated that Kiltegan (Tynock) Church had been newly built in the years 1826-27. The former chapel (Tyneclash) is attached to this church as a public school-house, these two years past.

There was no public school-house attached to Englishtown Church. In a note inserted later he states: "In 1841 a new chapel was built in Talbotstown in place of the old one. (at Englishtown) and schools etc. attached. About 1000 children are in course of education" (in the parish).

Possibly an image of one of the last Hedge School's  found in Ireland?
Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Hedge Schools.

In the Rathvilly St Patricks graveyard there is a well worn stone Erected by William D'Arcy in memory of his father Thomas D'arcy - Knocklishen. Died Janr 1882 aged 82. And his mother Catherine D'Arcy died 5th March 1896. Seven Children Including a Vincentian Priest and three Presentation Nuns mourn the loss of the above their beloved parents "He was a true and faithful friend in life and died a happy death May the Lord Have Mercy On Their Souls"

Edward D'arcy ( Darcy) was the teacher at the Knocklishen Hedge School, he was then succeeded by his son Michael- and Knockishen was to become the last Hedge School in Rathvilly Parish as later it became a National School. Thomas and Catherine D'Arcy nee ? continued at the National School as teachers, along with the main subjects, the gave tuition in Music - they had a family of 7 children, their eldest son was William Edward born? died? who in 1878 was organist at the Carlow Cathedral, and in the same year aided by his sister Helen he organised a concert which was held at the Rathvilly Boys School.  Helen went on to be a presentation Nun. Of the 7 children three were girls and all entered the Presentation Order in Lucan.  Elizabeth, born 1850, entered the Order in 1868 going on to become Mother Stanislaus D'Arcy, Foundress of the Presentation Order in Lismore, Australia. Unfortunately all the records of Elizabeth background had been destroyed in Australia so help was asked for and received from the Rev Mothers' in Lucan and Lismore Cameto Rathvilly.

Source: Cara c2008


RATHVILLY SCHOOL The tradition is that the school here was held in the old chapel which had been built in the year 1785. Referring to this building Lewis (1837) stated that "it was a large old seated building in which a National School is held." Who the teacher of this school was, I have never heard, but it may have been a man named Lyons, who was called "the Latin Master", and who was the first principal of the National School, which was built by Father Gahan in 1834.

KNOCKLISHEN SCHOOL This was a real Hedge School and was taught by a man named Edward Darcey. In wet weather or in the Winter, the children were taught in Darcey’s dwelling house but in the Summer or in fine weather they were taught in the open. A double fence separating the townslands of Knocklishen and Williamstown ran opposite the door of the dwelling house, and the pupils used to write their copies and "do their sums" on this fence so that it became quite flat and smooth. Mr. Robert Browne, (Knocklishen), Knockavagh informs me that his father, Mr. Peter Browne attended this school. Lewis states that there was a National School in Knocklishen in 1837. Edward Darcey was succeeded by his son Thomas Darcey, who, in his turn was succeeded by his son Michael who emigrated to Australia in the early 80's.

MAPLESTOWN This school "for small children" was conducted by a man named Thomas White. A remarkable coincidence is that the hearthstone of the old school house is the hearthstone of the cottage occupied by Thomas White of Maplestown, a grandson of the former schoolmaster.

BALLYHACKETT The house in which this school was conducted is still standing but uninhabited. It is situated on the road from Rathvilly to Carlow, about 200 yds, from Ballyhackett Cross Roads. The school was conducted by Patrick Keating, whose grand-children still live in Ballyhackett. The descendants of many of the pupils who attended this school are residents of Ballyhackett neighbourhood at the present time.

KNOCKBOY (THE ALLEY) In a part of the townland of Knockboy called The Alley, which was formerly very thickly populated, a school was carried on by a man named James Kehoe. He was called "The Master Kehoe" and some of his descendants are still living in Knockboy. It was said that he wrote the Lord's Prayer on a piece of paper which could have been covered by a sixpence. I have a hazy recollection of having seen this curio.

Lisnavagh There was a purposely built school on the Lisnavagh Estate. This was the estate school and was probably for the Protestant children of the estate while the Catholic children were down at Tobinstown (and before that presumably at Delany's school by Acaun). No records of the school or for the school have been found as yet. - Turtle Bunbury. 2010

Tobinstown Cross Roads About half a mile to the north of Tobinstown Cross Roads, at the foot of "Germaines Hill" on the Tobinstown Cross Roadsroad to Rathvilly, a school was conducted by Denis Delany. The place is still called "Delany's Farm" or "Denny's Twin." Delany was a low-sized man with rather flat feet and he was called "Dinny Heels". When the National Schools were established, his occupation was gone, and he used to drive round in a donkey's trap to teach the children in their homes. Many of the old people up to 50 years ago, remembered him very well, but now "The very spot where many a time he triumphed is forgot"

In Dr. Doyle's return for 1829 under the heading, "School Houses when built" we find the following:—

Rathvilly: To be built.
Kiltegan: Built lately.
Englishtown: No school-house.

KNOCKLISHEN HEDGE SCHOOL There are many memories and actual facts still existing amongst the older residents of Rathvilly Parish associated with this particular Hedge School. The teacher was Edward D'Arcy. He was succeeded by his son Thomas D'Arcy. Thomas was succeeded by his son Michael D'Arcy.

In St. Patrick's Cemetery, Rathvilly there is a very worn Headstone commemorating the D'Arcy Family, Knocklishen, Rathvilly. The Inscription, which is barely legible, reads:

Erected
By William D'Arcy
in memory of his Father
Thomas D'Arcy, Knocklishen
died Janr 6th 1882, aged 82
And his mother,
Catherine D'Arcy,
died 5th March, 1896
Seven children including
a Vincentian Priest and three
Presentation Nuns mourn
the loss of the above
their beloved parents.
He was a true and faithful friend
in life and died a happy death
May the Lord have mercy on their souls
This Thomas D'Arcy mentioned above was son of Edward D'Arcy, the last Hedge School Teacher in Rathvilly Parish. This school, Knocklishen, later became a National School. Thomas and his wife Catherine continued as Teachers. They were both brilliant Teachers .Together with the main subjects they gave tuitions in Music to the countryside. They had a family of seven children, four boys and three girls, all equally musical and brilliant. Their eldest son, William Edward was Organist in Carlow Cathedral in 1878 and Professor of Music in Carlow College. He organised a Concert which was held in Rathvilly Boys School in this year, assisted by his sister Helen, teacher in Knocklishen, later a Presentation Nun.
The second boy Tom was a Vincentian Priest and ministered in Australia (Recoil. E. O'Toole).
Michael taught in Knocklishen. He and his two brothers also went to Australia.
The three daughters entered the Presentation Order in Lucan. Elizabeth, the eldest girl, born 1850, entered the Order in 1868.
Her sisters followed in her footsteps. Elizabeth later, became Mother Stanislaus D'Arcy. Foundress of the Presentation Order in Lismore, Australia.
Last year the Centenary of this Convent was about to be celebrated. Through some tragic accident all records of the background of this great Nun had been destroyed. Enquiries from Rev. Mothers in Lucan and Lismore came to Rathvilly. They were very gratified to find that so much authentic information was still available.
This Headstone worn with age and wreaths is not alone a Memorial to this great D'Arcy Family, but also to the Standard of Education and Culture achieved in these little wayside country schools in the last century.

Source: This article originally appeared on p.38 of the 1972 edition of the Carloviana.


Rathvilly Normans in Rathvilly Pay Schools  D'Israeli School Rathvilly School St Patricks Graveyard St. Patrick's Church R.I.C. Barracks Rathvilly Railway

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