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1824 Survey of Irish Schools


Under the terms of the Gavelkind Act, the (Protestant) Irish Parliament in 1704 enacted Penal Laws intended to make sure that the Catholic majority would never again endanger the Protestant Ascendancy. Among other things, these laws provided that "No Catholic may attend a university, keep a school, or send his children to be educated abroad. 10 pounds reward is offered for the discovery of a Roman Catholic teacher."

As the years went by these laws led to the creation of the "Hedge Schools", schools for Catholic children taught by often itinerant schoolmasters, and which frequently met in the outdoors in good weather behind "hedges" for fear of being observed.

With the coming of Union between England and Ireland and the abolition of the Irish Parliament in 1800, the English Parliament began to feel more responsibility for the welfare and education of its Irish subjects. The Penal Laws had by that time become effective more in the breach than in the observance and many schools had grown up with officialdom ignoring the fact. By 1810 or so, most of the "Hedge Schools" had indeed died out and more formalized "public" education, much of it for a fee, had been created. But the government decided that a National School System, similar to that under consideration for England itself, was probably needed and the Parliament commissioned studies of the existing situation in Ireland before making their decision.

The "Second Report of the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry" issued a report in 1826 which published the results of an 1824 survey of EVERY SCHOOL IN IRELAND. They sent forms to all the Parish Priests, Catholic and Protestant and asked them to do a survey of their parishes on a certain day and return those forms with the requested information. The bureaucrats compared the Catholic and Protestant returns and then published a 1,400 page report summarizing those returns.

That report is now on microfiche and is available for researching in the Irish Genealogical Society, International library.

This wonderful report surveys all of the schools in the country and lists them by County, Barony, Diocese and Town or Townland. The records list the name of the Schoolmaster or Mistress, the religion of same, whether or not the school was "free" or "pay", the salary of the teacher, a description of the school house and its cost of replacement, the number of students, by religion and sex, from both the Protestant and Catholic returns, the sponsoring Society or Parish, if any, and which version, if any, of the Scriptures were read, or not, in the School.

While not primarily a genealogical record, this report does give perhaps the only information other than the census substitutes on most of the townlands of Ireland and can, by reading between the lines, provide a hint as to what the lives of our ancestors may have been like. Being you are at the townland level, you may see familiar names; both people who first looked at this at the IGSI Library did. Some schools appear to have been rather prosperous and others were held in hovels. The records do mention some of the "Hedge Schools" which were still in existence.

The report also summarizes the activities of the several Societies which were in existence at the time to provide education to the Irish, the largest of which was the Society for the Education of the Poor in Ireland; and also the Kildare Place Society, the Trustees of Erasmus Smith, the Association for Discountenancing Vice (!), the Christian Brotherhood, the London Hibernian Society, and others.

Some of the comments relating to particular schools include such items as "read in Greek"; "held in R.C. chapel during summer, and in the master's house in winter"; "mud cabin, thatched"; "an upper room in a wretched home"; "R.C. clergyman says he removed all the bibles and testaments from the school"; "school held in a barn"; "wretched mud cabin, thatched"; "a hut built of sods, under a ditch"; "a good house, four stories high" (Dublin), "spacious dwelling house"; "wood and stone"; etc.

The summary of the report which has been made contains a few interesting general observations.

Depending upon the County, the numbers of students surveyed in the report appear to be only 20% to 41% of the estimated school-aged population aged 5-15; females constituted 27% to 42% of the student body; and school size, and generally also the size of the classroom, varied from as low as 23 to as high as 60. One would image that with 60 in a school, there would be enough income to provide for more than one teacher.

Submitted by Ray Marshall

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Appendices to the 1824 Report

Fiche 1
Page
27  1  Summary of the Schools and scholars in Ireland
35  2  Classes of Schools and scholars
48  3  Schools and Religion of Teachers and Whether or Not the Scriptures are Read
50  4  Schools of the Association For the Discontinuance of Vice
58  5  Schools of the Board of Erasmus Smith Trustees
64  6  Schools of the Society of the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in Ireland
74  7  Schools of the London Hibernain Society
82  8  Schools of the Baptist Society
86  9  Schools of the Christian Brotherhood
90  10  Female Schools Attached to Nunneries

Fiche 2
94  10  Female Schools Attached to Nunneries
96  11  Roman Catholic Day Schools (Subscription)
136  12  Society for the Promotion of the Education of the Poor in Ireland
166  13A  Schools not open in the Fall of 1824, but they were previously
171  13B  Same, but with no Student count
173  14  Abstract of Appendix 12 and 13
173  15  Schools Under Construction
180  16  Testimony of Joseph D. Jackson, Secretary to the Society

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Fiche 3
196  17  Examination of Joseph D. Jackson
205  18  Schools which have ceased to be associated with the Society
210  19  Roman Catholic Schools which have applied to the Society for aid
215  20  List of Society Schools, as found in the Religious Returns
223  21  Society Schools Found in their Returns, but not in the Religious Returns
229  22  Abstract of Parochial Returns
230  Ulster
231  Antrim
272  Armagh

Fiche 4
288 Armagh
304 Cavan
322 Donegal
354 Down

Fiche 5
386 Down
400 Fermanagh
420 Londonderry
448 Monaghan
472 Tyrone

Fiche 6
484 Tyrone
515 Leinster
516 Carlow
532 City of Dublin
572 County of Dublin

Fiche 7
584 County of Dublin
608 Kildare
628 Kilkenny
664 Kings

Fiche 8
680 Kings
688 Longford
706 Louth
724 Meath
750 Queens
776 Westmeath

Fiche 9
778 Westmeath
800 Wexford
836 Wicklow
865 Munster
866 Clare

Fiche 10
876 Clare
898 County of Cork

Fiche 11
974 County of Cork
1000 City of Cork
1024 Kerry
1056 Limerick
Fiche 12
1072 Limerick
1102 Tipperary
1158 Waterford
Fiche 13
1170 Waterford
1191 Connaught
1192 Galway
1234 Leitrim
1243 Mayo
Fiche 14
1268 Mayo
1282 Roscommon
1308 Sligo

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1826 Parliamentary Study on the Schools of Ireland

The "Second Report of the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry"

(Data for the Year 1824)
  1824 Pop. (est.) Population Age 5-15 No. of Schools Male Students Female Students Total Students Student % of pop. Females % of Students Students per School
Ulster
Antrim 280163 74075 515 11718 8004 19722 27% 41% 38
Armagh 204190 53988 332 7646 5043 12689 24% 40% 38
Cavan 201759 53345 346 11329 6541 17870 33% 37% 52
Donegal 256775 67891 376 8341 5542 13883 20% 40% 37
Down 336604 88998 544 13128 8306 21434 24% 39% 39
Fermanagh 135484 35822 240 5914 3822 9736 27% 39% 41
Londonderry 200510 53015 380 7970 5682 13652 26% 42% 36
Monaghan 180682 47772 281 6731 4155 10886 23% 38% 39
Tyrone 280836 74253 435 10876 7461 18337 25% 41% 42
Total 2066962 546505 3449 83653 54556 138209 25% 39% 40

Leinster
Carlow 81656 21590 166 4832 3529 8361 39% 42% 50
Dublin 347399 91852 938 17713 14206 31919 35% 45% 34
Kildare 102458 27090 384 5177 3608 8785 32% 41% 23
Kilkenny 188179 49755 254 12684 7392 20076 40% 37% 79
Leix-Queens 138875 36719 275 6739 5101 11840 32% 43% 43
Longford 111255 29416 180 5852 3475 9327 32% 37% 52
Louth 123210 32577 169 4377 2701 7078 22% 38% 42
Meath 164636 43530 272 6797 3739 10536 24% 35% 39
Offaly-Kings 135579 35847 254 6072 4162 10234 29% 41% 40
Westmeath 133232 35227 216 5994 4057 10051 29% 40% 47
Wexford 176657 46708 380 11546 7592 19138 41% 40% 50
Wicklow 114561 30290 258 6622 4940 11562 38% 43% 45
Total 1812532 479233 3431 94405 64502 158907 33% 41% 46

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Munster
Clare 215218 56904 315 13548 6685 20233 36% 33% 64
Cork 755469 199746 1288 44556 24386 68942 35% 35% 54
Kerry 223591 59117 354 14329 5419 19748 33% 27% 56
Limerick 286983 75878 468 20191 10529 30720 40% 34% 66
Tipperary 358780 94861 657 21786 12588 34374 36% 37% 52
Waterford 161604 42728 284 9356 5735 15091 35% 38% 53
Total 2001926 529309 3359 123766 65342 189108 36% 35% 56


Connaught
Galway 348932 92258 405 12854 7056 19910 22% 35% 49
Leitrim 129060 34123 242 8010 4153 12163 36% 34% 50
Mayo 303154 80154 341 10846 5134 15980 20% 32% 47
Roscommon 215880 57079 309 9865 5379 15244 27% 35% 49
Sligo 151238 39987 226 6513 3808 10321 26% 37% 46
Total 1148264 303601 1523 48088 25527 73615 24% 35% 48


Ireland Total 7029684 1858648 11762 349912 209927 559839 30% 37% 48

Thanks to Ray Marshall for submitting this information for County Kerry, Ireland at www.rootsweb.com/~irlker/
This page created January, 2000.


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