A School-Master of Sleibhte
The Blue Book Summary of the
Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry dated 1826 gives the
name and other details of every teacher in the day schools of
Ireland in 1824. The following entry was made for Slaty
(Sleibhte) in the Parish of Killeshin:
Matthew Haughey. Roman Catholic. Pay School. Income £13.
School an outhouse attached to his dwelling. Average
attendance: Summer 1824 — Males 12, Females 4; Roman Catholics
16. Not connected with any Society. Scriptures not read.
Miss Lizzie Dunny, a venerable lady of
Sleibhte who died 12 March 1954 remembered this Matthew Haughey
well.1 He lived opposite her
door. Apple trees over 200 years and still bearing fruit,
Georgian apples, in 1935, belonged to the Haugheys. Matt was
rather miserly. He had pulled down the dwelling house which
stood near Miss Dunny’s present greenhouse and had sold the
stones to John Kelly, Carlow for the building of a new house
now occupied by Messrs. Corcorans.’ Matt lived with his niece
Miss Moll Keogh, a simpleton, in the barn, which was at the
south side of the dwelling house. Old Matt, when Miss Dunny
knew him, went from house to house teaching. He taught Dr.
O’Meara and all the O’Meara family; also the Currans of
Herondale and the Brennans of Ballyharmon. He used to teach the
three R’s and Greek and Latin. Greek and Latin primers in paper
covers were for many years at Dunnys’ until they were taken
away by Dr. O’Meara who said he got his first smatterings of
Greek and Latin from them.
Matt used to wear a tall hat and
priests’ clothes given him by Fr’s. James and Pat Maher. He
used to light the candles before Mass every Sunday. He received
Holy Communion at Mass and after Mass taught catechism for half
an hour or an hour; Miss Dunny could not say exactly as it
seemed a week to her. He used to have his breakfast with the
priest and he reached home about half three or four in the
evening when the Killeshin church bell would be ringing. Miss
Dunny and her brothers would meet him and remark it was the
Mass-bell. He would correct them and explain that it was the
Protestant Church bell. He taught the Dunny children their
lessons, their catechism and prayers. He used to teach them
“Glory be to God on High” and he pronounced “High” in such a
way that the children thought he meant “Glory be to God on
He was a very pious man. Miss Dunny
often saw him on his knees praying in the fields. One Sunday
evening after coming from Graigue, the children found him on
his knees in his own gateway. They thought he was praying and
told their parents who came out and found he was ill. They
lifted him up and carried him into his house. Old Dr. O’Meara
and Fr. Pat Maher were promptly with him. He was ill over a
week. He fell ill on Sunday evening and was buried on a Sunday
After his death between two and three
hundred pounds in sovereigns and five-shilling pieces were
found in old jugs and canisters hidden in the floor and thatch
of the barn. The money was taken possession of by Moll Keogh’s
sister, Ellen, who was married to a railway employee named
Sullivan, Who lived near Athy. After Matt’s funeral, Moll Keogh
went away to live with the Sullivan’s in Athy, where she died.
Matt Hoey is buried at the end of the ruins in Sletty and Danny
Hoey’s family are buried with him.
1. Knockbeg College Annual
1935 p. 81.
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