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Schools in Bantry/Skibbereen/Schull area West Cork 19th century School Boycott, Dromore (Bantry) 1880s Remarkable as a consequence of the Catholic Church dispute with the British Government that for 30 years (c1845-75) children were taught by untrained teachers

In the early 19th century there was an extensive network of informal or hedge schools in the area.  A Parliamentary enquiry of 1823 lists these.

An idea of what informal schools might be like is described in the Diary of Humprey O”Sullivan (Amhlaóibh Ó Suilleabáin) published in 1820. In the 1790, he and his father left the Killarney area to set up a hedge school in South Kilkenny. The locals built a sod house in three days for the school. He later left teaching and became a prosperous merchant.

The Church of Ireland schools had funding from the Church Education Society.  Their records are in the Representative Church Body Library in Rathgar in Dublin.  Some schools were set up by the Erasmus Smith organisation and their records are held in the Archive of the High School in Dublin.

The Islands and Coast Society was a nakedly prosylesytising society and set up schools and mission stations in remote areas of Ireland.  They had a number of schools in the area and their is a limited amount of information from their annual reports some of which are on Google Books.  Their records are in Trinity College.

The National Education system begins to operate in West Cork from the 1830s sometimes taking on schools which were already in existence.  They met a hostile reception from the Church of Ireland and de facto became Catholic Schools.  From the 1880s schools such as Durrus Church of Ireland applied to join the National system due to funding being cut off from other sources.

The National Schools have been criticized as advancing Anglicization but a review of their records would suggest that the inspectors were anxious that the children have as good an education as was attainable.

From 1862 the Catholic Church placed an embargo on members attending the Teacher Training Colleges and this continued until the 1880s when the Baggot Street College for women was set up and St. Patricks Dromcondra for men. The hostility of the major religious meant that the consumers the innocent children suffered. An outcome of the Catholic embargo was played out in Dromore outside Bantry in the 1890s. Miss Hurley had attended, contrary to Church Policy the Teacher Training College at Marlborough Street and was appointed principal at Dromore School. The manager the parish priest instead appointed someone else. Miss Hurley’s supporters occupied the school and the stand off continued. The Bishop became involved and suggested a short period for Miss Hurley in the Catholic Teacher Training College at Baggot Street. This case received widespread publicity in England and elsewhere.

It is remarkable as a consequence of the Catholic Church dispute with the British Government that for 30 years (c1845-75)children were taught by untrained teachers and the young teaching aspirant were not clerically allowed to attend the Commissioner ‘s of Education Colleges.

It is reminiscent of the famous Drimoleague down the road school dispute in the 1970s.

The National Archives have many files dealing with on an individual basis the first application to build a National School.  There are ledgers where each school is assigned a Folio and each inspection is documented, with details of numbers on the roll average attendance and a grading of the school.  A large part is taken up with teacher problems.  The are many awards of ‘adequate’ but also many below that .  There are frequent references to teachers being disciplined, fined or even dismissed.  The charges were of poor quantity or inadequacy of teaching, absences, cheating at exams, various manifestations of drunkiness, assault.  The general poverty of the area is reflected in children being kept at home to assist, lack of materials and poor furnishings and repair of the schools.  All that being said a review of the various folios show s a concerted effort to ensure an adequate standard of education.  Again in the early years there was no formalized system of training for teachers so a bit of hit and miss was unavoidable.

A listing of the teachers is given, sometimes their service is short this my be of interest for genealogical purposes.

The Methodist Church also maintained their own schools for example in Durrus.


Society for the Promotion of Education among the Poor 1820s West Cork: