The National Schools in Wicklow Town 1832-1919

Wicklow Historical Society Journal 1989

By Ken Hannigan

Wicklow has had a long association with the National School system stretching back almost to the establishment of the system itself. When the parish priest of Wicklow, Fr. John Grant, applied to the Commissioners of National Education in April 1832 seeking a grant in aid for his parish schools, the National Board had been in existence for only six months(1). The establishment of that board in October 1831 was the latest and, as it turned out, the most successful attempt to provide a system of elementary education for the broad mass of Irish children. Locally, as well as nationally, earlier attempts in this area had been less than satisfactory.

The town’s charter which was granted in 1613 specified that the Borough Corporation should provide accommodation for a free school and support a schoolmaster. The minutes of the Corporation contain evidence of this school’s sporadic operation down through the years. It was being held in the Market House in 1682 and, having moved to separate premises for a time, it was back in the Market House in 1700. In 1705 the rents from the Castle Lands were granted to supplement the income of the teacher and in 1746 the Castle and the lands surrounding it were again granted to the then schoolmaster. By this time, however, the school, insofar as it was conducted at all, was conducted as a Latin or grammar school, a fact noted by a correspondent to the Freeman’s Journal in 1763 who complained that the lands which had been granted for the support of a free school were no longer being used for this purpose by the person who held them, that many children of school-going age were to be seen during the day strolling around the town when they might be expected to be in school and that many people in Wicklow maintained that the declining state of the town was due to the absence of a free school.(2)

It is clear, however, that although the free school provided for in the town’s charter may have been inoperative for much of the eighteenth century, other schools were operating in Wicklow at this time. A published report of 1721 mentioned the existence of a charity school in the town in which nineteen boys were kept until old enough to be apprenticed.(3) In 1731 an official investigation into the extent of popish schools was told that two such schools existed in the town. (4) In 1764, moved to act perhaps by the reports in the Freeman's Journal, the Protestant clergy­man, Dr. Wall, advertised for a teacher to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. A letter written by the Town’s Portrieve in July 1788 stated that there were then three schools in Wicklow, one Latin and two English, one of which was by subscription.(5) If later official reports are anything to go by, there were probably several other schools, pay schools, hedge schools or Catholic parish schools, around the town and its environs at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth century. In the neighbourhood of Wicklow many of the landed proprietors established schools for the children of their tenants. These included the Fitzwilliams, the Truells at Clonmannon, the Tottenhams at Killiskey and the Actons at Dunganstown.(6) On the Synge Estate at Glanmore a pioneering school had been established by John Synge in 1815 following his visit to the school at Yverdon run by the Swiss educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. So successful were Synge’s efforts in this direction that he' became known in the area as “Pestalozzi John”.(7)

Of the present schools in Wicklow Town some threads of continuity can be traced back to the 1790’s. A Protestant parish school built about that time was funded by the Eaton bequest which consisted of rents from two houses in Merrion Square, Dublin. This school was demolished around 1820 and there was to be a lapse of several years before another Protestant parish school was opened on the site in 1827.(8) The 1821 Census reported the existence of a school for 70 boys and 70 girls in the town supported by subscriptions.(9) This was clearly the Catholic parish school which had been set up two years before. There was no mention of any other publicly-funded or endowed school in the town. The census reported that the town’s population in 1821 stood at 2046 but that only 172 individuals were attending school. Pigot’s Directory of 1824 reported that there had formerly been a Protestant free school in the town but that it had failed for want of funds to keep it in repair and support a master.(10) The directory mentioned the existence of two Catholic free schools in the town attended by about 200 children who were taught reading, writing and arithmetic. The schools had been built on either side of the Chapel (the building which now houses the Parochial Hall). One had been built in 1819 by the Catholics of the Chapel District without any financial aid from outside; the second was built about two years later by parishioners, aided by the Kildare Place Society (The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor of Ireland).(11) A parliamentary investigation reported that the schools had received £30 from the Kildare Place Society, £40 from the Lord Lieutenant's School Building Fund and that the remainder of the £160 building cost had been raised locally. (12)

With the advent of the National School system in the early 1830’s the pattern which emerged in Wicklow was similar to that emerging in the country as a whole. The Protestant parish school remained outside the system but the Catholic parish schools connected with it. In doing so they ceased, in theory, to be denominational Although the Parish Priest continued to act as manager, the schools, as national schools, were now subject to the rules of the Commissioners one of which was that schools were to be open to children of all denominations. This meant that they could not be connected with places of public worship, nor could any religious emblems be displayed in the classrooms. There was to be strict separation between periods of secular instruction and religious instruction, with joint secular and separate religious instruction for children of different denominations. The fact that the new Wicklow National Schools were built on church ground either side of the chapel was soon to pose problems.

In his application for a grant in aid the parish priest, Rev. John Grant, said that the schools had no connection with any society, though he men­tioned that the Kildare Place Society had helped with the building of the girls’ school. The schools were now funded by local subscriptions though he said that there had been a great falling off in the annual subscriptions from the small farmers. These subscriptions had been the main support over the previous 12 years but the farmers now generally refused to give or gave with much reluctance, complaining that they had not means to give their own children a sufficient education.(13) This seems to indicate that the schools were regarded as existing only for the poor children of the town. Those with even modest means, such as the small farmers, sent their children to other schools - pay schools. The Wicklow Free Schools were just that - the scholars paid nothing. But for people with means, however modest, self-respect demanded that the children be sent to a pay school or a hedge school. It says something for the National System that as it developed it removed this sort of distinction. The egalitarian nature of the system is something which is not often acknowledged. Fr. Grant’s application was for a subvention of £20 to aid in the payment of salaries and for the purchase of a sufficient supply of school books and other requisites which would then be given free or at reduced prices to the children, many of whom, he claimed, were not able to give one penny, although it should make them accomplished scholars.

The schools in 1832 were reported to be in very good repair with four desks and twelve forms in the boys’ school and two desks and eight forms in the girls’ school. In all there were 300 children on the books, though some were just occasional attenders. On average, 120 boys attended in summer but only about 70 in winter. Likewise about 110 girls attended in summer but only 50 attended in winter. The pupils paid nothing although in later years fees of one penny and twopence a week were introduced for all but the poorest children. The hours were from nine until three from Monday to Friday and from nine until one on Saturdays. There were just two teachers. Joseph Thomas was the master in the boys’ school. He had no formal training but he had been teaching in the school since 1826 and was to remain there until 1849. The teacher in the girls’ school, Mary Ennis, had died just a few days before the application was made. She was succeeded by Bridget Moran who married the master’s brother in 1832 and taught the girls’ school until 1845.(14)

The number of pupils on the rolls of each school fluctuated year by year within this period, ranging from 150 to 260 in the boys’ school and from 86 to 248 in the girls’ school. The teachers would probably have been assisted by the more senior pupils acting as unpaid monitors. The first paid monitor was not appointed to the boys school until 1851, but with few teachers receiving formal training at this time, serving as a monitor was a kind of apprenticeship for the brighter students who might go on to become teachers. Among the pupils at Wicklow who followed this course was Sarah Jones. She went through all levels of the system while in Wicklow, as pupil, monitress, assistant teacher and then principal teacher of the Infant School until it closed in 1903.(15)

Whatever system was in operation in the early years, however, there were physical limits to the number of children who could be accommo­dated within the schools. An inspector who visited the boys’ school in July 1835 reported that it was too small for the average attendance.(16) There were also problems about its proximity to the chapel. All buildings used as schools were to be purely secular in character so that they would, in theory, be open to the children of all denominations. In November 1836 the Commissioners warned the parish priest that aid to the school would be cut off in the following year unless premises unconnected with a house of public worship could be found. They offered to provide aid in building a school which would then have become vested with the National Board. This type of proposal was generally not acceptable to the Catholic Church as it diminished the control which the clergy, as local managers and patrons, exercised over the schools. It is not clear from the records what counter-proposals Grant made to the Commissioners to save the school but they stated that they would reconsider their decision if the Protestant clergyman of the parish would join in an application to continue aid. Grant replied that the Protestant clergyman had declined to do this and again asked the Board to reconsider. This they refused to do and the schools were disconnected in August 1837. They were restored the following month, however, once the Commissioners were satisfied that there was no communication between the schools and the chapel.(17)

When the new church was built in 1844, the body of the old chapel was converted to house the schools. Judging by the dimensions of the two school rooms (80' x 18' x 20' and 46' x 18' x 20') they seem to have been made by dividing the body of the chapel about two thirds to one third and giving the larger section to the boys. With the move to the new school the teacher of the girls’ school, Bridget Thomas, resigned and her place was taken by a 25 year old trained teacher, Catherine Dalton. There were at that stage 265 girls on the roll and though the average attendance was less than half this, the numbers were sufficient to secure a salary for an assistant. In July 1846 Catherine Dalton’s 23 year old sister Ann was appointed. Among the teachers who succeeded the Dalton sisters were the Hopkins sisters, Eliza Fitzgerald, Ann Doran, Ann Salmon, Ann Byrne, Emma Farrell, Ellen and Annie Reynolds (who later became Anne Lambert), Eliza Cassell (formerly McGuirk), Ellen Byrne and Mary Foley, who was the last principal.(18) In the boys’ school Joseph Thomas, who had been the teacher since 1826, resigned in May 1849. Among the teachers and assistant teachers who succeeded him down to 1870 were Patrick Doyle, Mathew Naughton, Simon Nolan, John Griffith, Denis McCarthy and William Burke.(19) In 1860 the schools were reorganised and an infants' school established in the building. This was originally housed in a room partitioned off from the boys’ school. There were 124 infants on the rolls in 1864 with an average attendance of 68.(20)

These then were the three national schools in the town in the 1860’s. They were all based in the building that had been the old chapel and it is clear from the records that none of them was operating to the satisfaction of the Board of National Education. The teachers were frequently admonished for inefficiency or incompetence, for not keeping proper records or accounts, and for neglect of order and cleanliness. Several times the inspectors made the point that while the teachers might be suitable for a small rural school, they were most unsuitable for so important a town school as Wicklow. There are reports in 1853 of the assistant teacher in the boys’ school being arrested for intoxication by the police, and several years later a report of the principal and his assistant being fined by the Commissioners for quarrelling in front of the pupils and thus presenting a bad example. But the criticism was not confined to the teachers alone, the physical condition of the school itself was also frequently complained of in inspectors’ reports.(21)

Apart from the three national schools, the other main elementary school in the town was the Protestant Parish School. Like most of the parish schools run by the Established Church, it had stayed outside the National System, unhappy about a system of education which limited religious instruction and use of the Bible to set periods. With the establishment of the National System, however, some of its funding was cut off. The Government’s grant to the Association for Discountenancing Vice, an organisation which had channelled funds to the Wicklow school, was ended. There were other sources of funding available to the school, however, in the form of bequests and endowments. For much of the nineteenth century the school was in connection with the Board of Erasmus Smith and thereby qualified for funds from the bequest of Erasmus Smith, a Cromwellian soldier who had used his plantation lands to endow schools propagating the Protestant faith.

An assistant commissioner from the Royal Commission on Primary Education reported on the condition of all the schools in Wicklow in 1868. Of the town he stated:

“At the town of Wicklow a large number of persons is engaged in fishing or other nautical pursuit... The population of the town of Wicklow in 1864 was 3404 of whom 770 were Protestants, a much larger proportion than in any other district which I visited. There are five schools in the town, a national school, a parochial school on the foundation of Erasmus Smith, and three small schools maintained by private persons. The number in attendance at all these schools on June 25th, and the estimated number of children of school age are exhibited in the following table:-

Table G - Attendance of Children at School on 25th June; and Estimated Number of Children of School-age in Wicklow.


Above 3 years and under 5

Above 5 Years and under 13

Total above 5 years and under 13




Roman Catholic


Roman Catholic























Parochial School










Private School










Total at all Schools,










Estimated number of

School age,



















“The proportion of children at school is small, and in the case of the girls remarkably small. The latter fact may be accounted for by the state of the national school for girls which was not maintained vigorously, because a convent was being established to which the school would in future be attached. The infant school is inefficient from the same cause; and it may be expected that when the impending alterations have been made, the attendance of the children will be more satisfactory. The boys do not attend in such numbers as they do elsewhere, but the length of the period during which they remain at school is shortened by the demand for the labour of boys of eleven or twelve years of age and upwards in the fishery, which gives employment to many of the inhabitants. It must be noticed, however, that no interest appears to be taken in the national school by the manager or any other person, and this total indifference has a bad effect on parents who are not too eager to send their children to school, and who need to have their duty in this matter strongly enforced”.

“The national school buildings were very poor; the girls’ and infant schools were miserable, the boys’ school rather better, but was situated on a slope so steep that the floor is at some depth below the level of the ground in front of the building , and the room is therefore very damp; the long and narrow shape is inconvenient, and there is no means of ventilation except by the windows. It is scarcely necessary to say that the school is not vested. The number of scholars present was eighty, of whom fourteen were in the higher classes. The boys in the third class read well, wrote from dictation almost without a mistake, but failed completely in arithmetic. The boys in the fourth class wrote very well on paper from dictation, and were more successful in arithmetic than those of the third class. They answered my questions on geography with great intelligence and vivacity. We also examined part of the second class in reading and writing, with fairly satisfactory results. The boys were very young and for their age their proficiency was highly creditable. Two of the boys on the school rolls were members of the Established Church, but they were not present. The master had one assistant but no monitors; he had been trained in Dublin, and was in the first division of the second class. His salary was £40, of which sum the National Board paid £32, and the rest was derived from school fees; a residence rent-free was provided for him… We did not examine the girls’ school when we discovered its state…

“The parochial school in Wicklow was closed at the time of my visit. We saw the buildings, which were excellent, in very good repair, and well provided with furniture. The school has separate departments for boys and girls, the teachers of which were married and lived at the school house. The master’s salary for conducting the school was £40, with an additional gratuity of £5 if the inspector of the Board of Erasmus Smith made a favourable report. The master was also parish clerk, and received £10 on that account, thus raising his income to £55. His wife received £35 for conducting the girls’ school. As the school was not in operation we could not, of course, form any opinion as to it efficiency.”(22)

Whatever criticisms there were in the report concerning the schools in Wicklow Town, they paled in comparison with the account of Rathnew:

“The village of Rathnew contains nearly 1,000 inhabitants, and a large part of it consists of a number of miserable hovels, which are the property of the occupiers. This part of the village has been built on no system whatever; the owners have placed their cabins in any position they chose, and the consequence is that the passages between the houses form a labyrinth through which it is impossible for a stranger to find his way without a guide. Buried in a remote corner of this curious collection of dwellings is a hovel rather larger than the rest, which is the National School. The building contains one long low room open to the thatched roof, with a floor and walls of mud, and a smaller classroom separated by a partition from the large room. A few small windows admit a little light, and in summer, when they are open, some fresh air. The furniture was quite new and excellent, but we were told that this had been provided on the establishment of the school by the teacher and scholars, without assistance from the manager or any other person living in the neigh­bourhood. We found fifty-five children collected in this place, thirty boys and twenty-five girls, most of them very young. They were all Roman Catholics. The schoolmaster was untrained, and in the first division of the third class. He had no assistance of any sort in conducting the school. His salary from the National Board was £24, and from school-fees during the year 1868, £4-18-8. No residence was provided and the expense incurred by the teacher on this account was £7-10-0 annually.

“The school is under the management of the parish priest of Wicklow, and it is hardly necessary to state that it is not vested. It has only been in operation since the year 1867, therefore the sanction of the National Board must have been given quite recently to the use of a building so thoroughly unfit for the purposes of a school. It may be thought that it is the duty of the manager to make better provision for the school. In the present case the manager appears to consider that he has done all that can be expected when he has appointed the teacher, and that any further effort on his part is quite unnecessary.”(23)

As this report mentioned, the girls’ national school was being run down at this time in anticipation of the opening of the convent national school. The recorded attendances for the period 1863-70 were 50 to 60 and down to as low as 23 at one stage.(24) In contrast with this, the Convent school, when it opened in June 1870, immediately attracted 377 pupils, 315 females and 62 male infants. (25) Curiously, although the girls’ national school at the chapel closed when the convent school opened, the infant school was kept on and was in fact transferred to the house previously used as the girls’ school even though it was later stated that there was always ample accommodation in the Convent school for the infants of the parish. The reason was probably that the parish priest was reluctant to have the existing teachers lose their salaries. (The Convent school at this time was not employing lay teachers; all the teaching staff were nuns). Following the move into the old girls’ school the infants school was renamed as the Wicklow Boys’ Preparatory School and then, in 1882, became the Wicklow Male Infants’ School. It never operated to the satisfaction of the Commissioners. (26)

The Convent school on the other hand was a most impressive under­taking. Built on convent ground, it was “a distinct building with front abutting directly on the public way”. The main source of support was an annual charity sermon which brought in about £40, and pupils’ fees. These were one penny or twopence a week, regulated by the manager­ess. There were 30 children attending free. School hours were from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. Religious instruction was given in three periods every day from 9.00 -10.00,12.00 -12.15 and 2.00 - 3.00. At two and a quarter hours a day this was considerably more than the norm in other national schools and the manageress was warned in 1883 about a violation of Rule 87, governing religious instruction. Apart from the teaching nuns there were four senior monitresses and two junior monitresses. By the 1890’s there were some lay assistants employed but, because the manageress did not pay them what the National Board considered to be a sufficient salary, they were not officially recognised.(27)

Meanwhile another national school had been established in the town. As has already been noted, the Protestant parish school did not connect with the system in 1831 but became an Erasmus Smith school. By 1883, however, the rector, the Rev. Henry Rooke, reported that the schools were in decline because of the inefficiency and total unfitness of the teacher. He stated that the Board of Erasmus Smith would not continue their grant and had dismissed the teacher, in July 1883, therefore, the rector applied to the board of national Education for the schools to be taken into connection. There were at the time 40 boys on the roll but the average attendance was around 26. The number of girls on the roll at the beginning of the year had been 34 and the average attendance was 24. Rooke stated that with competent teachers these attendance figures would be greatly improved. There were two school rooms measuring 20' x 30' for boys and girls and a third smaller room which was originally intended for infants. There was also a teacher’s residence. The practice was for the teacher of the girls’ school always to be the wife or daughter of the master of the boy’s school. The application of 1883 was turned down by the Commissioners as the school had ceased to function. The minister was told to hire his teachers, get the schools running again and then re-apply.(28) Nine years later, in 1892, a single school was taken into connection. A separate infants’ school was recognised in 1895 but the schools were amalgamated again in 1899.(29)

At one point, therefore, during the 1890’s there were five separate national schools operating in the town. Within four years, however, these had been reduced to three with the amalgamation of the Protestant schools, followed by the closure of the Catholic Male Infant School. This school had suffered from neglect for some years before its closure. The inspectors’ reports were consistently bad, the number fluctuated and so did the salary of the assistant teacher who was paid only sporadically. (30) There were 64 pupils present when the Head Inspector visited the school in July 1900 and he was not impressed by what he found. The house was unsuitable and was unsuitably furnished. There were large heavy desks, one long and four others of half the length placed in three lines. They were altogether unsuitable for infants. The schoolroom had not a clean and cheerful appearance. The teachers had not much professional skill and were not successful at preserving attention; seldom did more than half of the children pay any attention to the teachers. Discipline was bad. The children received no physical exercise. There was only one blackboard and only twelve or thirteen pens, all old and bad. The pupils' writing was, therefore, slovenly and bad. As an example of the qualification of the principal for her position, the Inspector noted that she had written the word “balance” six times in the Report Book using two "Is" and had also written “woollen” with one "o" on the timetable. An infant school such as this, he wrote, did more harm than good. The manager, Fr. Carbery, said that he did not understand why the school had been kept going. The principal was diligent and well disposed, but she was worn out (she was 57!). Her assistant, he said, harassed her a great deal. The assistant had received no salary for a year but was clinging on. He would have no occupation for her in the new school. In fact, he hoped to part with the whole staff of the old schools and have “new hands for the new work” in the new schools.(31)

The reports on the Boys’ National School since the 1870’s were also consistently bad as illustrated in the following extracts:

May 1874. The inspector reported that the classes were in a miserably backward state and that the teacher was incompetent to control or teach a school of this kind "being quite wanting in the physical and mental vigour which the place demands”.

August 1874. The assistant teacher “throughout his career as a national teacher was remarkably inefficient”.

December 1875. The teacher was ordered to “cultivate habits of cleanliness and order in the pupils and set them an example in this respect”.

May 1884. Teacher dismissed for insobriety.

November 1893. Teacher reprimanded for excessive punish­ment of pupils.(32)

The last two teachers of the school before it moved across the road to the present site were Eugene Moriarty and his assistant, James Consid­ine. Moriarty was a Kerryman who had been in the school since 1877. He had trained in Marlborough Street Training College from 1863-65 and was nearing retirement in 1903. He was classified as a Class 1 teacher but an inspector’s report in 1898 claimed that “neither in skill, power or control or energy is he of the highest merit and I believe he never was ... he is quite too easy going”. The assistant, James Considine, who had just received some in-service training in St. Patrick’s College (he was 33) was also the recipient of a rather dubious compliment from the inspector who noted with apparent surprise on his return from training, “he has learned something”!(33)

Photo:Mr. Mathew Murtagh with class pre 1912, included are Joseph Carr, 7th from left in middle row, and Charles Byrne, 10th from left same row

Mr. Mathew Murtagh with class pre 1912, included are Joseph Carr, 7th from left in middle row, and Charles Byrne, 10th from left same row

Photo courtesy Ann Carr


Four years later the Department noted that this school should be kept under close attention as there had recently been a complaint that the educational interests of the pupils had suffered and were suffering materially owing to the method in which the school business was carried on. An inspector who visited on 14 June 1902, following this report, was only moderately critical. Of the teacher he said, “though nothing of positive merit fell under my notice, I saw nothing calling for direct serious censure”. Concerning the pupils he wrote "they might have been smarter in their behaviour and somewhat more attractive in dress but order and quiet were preserved”. Two weeks later the inspector made a return visit to the school. There were only 60 boys present, as a fair was taking place in the town, but again the report was only mildly critical.(34)

Moriarty retired when the new school opened in 1903. He was over 60 by then. The inspector had noted, "... he is apathetic and wanting in energy and in the power of securing observance of discipline. He is not an efficient teacher yet he is a very respectable and well-conducted man”.(35) His main misfortune seems to have been that he was a remnant of an earlier age, incapable of adjusting to the demands of the new programme being introduced at the turn of the century, though he did help to teach a Gaelic League class in the evenings.(36)

When the new Boys’ National School opened it was placed in the charge of Mathew Murtagh. He was not a young man, having been in the Board’s service since 1871, and was then in his 33rd year of service. He had previously been principal of Rathdrum National School. Although not technically trained, he had qualified himself in horticulture, agriculture, drawing, singing, hand and eye training, drill and elementary science. He brought about immediate improvements in the running of the school, increasing the attendance. The District Inspector reported that he was a most intelligent and zealous teacher with a considerable influence among his colleagues and that he was something of an enthusiast as regards cottage gardening (which he taught to the pupils). He also greatly improved the appearance of the school rooms on the inside. In fact the only fault which the commissioners saw in him was his extra-curricular activities with the G.A.A. which the inspector reported “pursues such sectarian and disloyal ends”. His son, Joseph Murtagh, was for a time employed as an assistant in the school. (37) When Murtagh senior retired in 1919 the school was placed in the hands of the De La Salle Brothers who had been teaching an intermediate school in the town since 1912. The Old Chapel was to have two more incarnations as schools, being used by the De La Salle Brothers as an intermediate school between 1912 and 1915 and once again housing national school classes when the present school was being extended in the mid-1950’s.(38)

Ken Hannigan

National Archives.

*"Wicklow Parish 1844-1944” by Rev. Michael Clarke.



(1)       National Archives, Four Courts, Dublin, Records of the Commissioners of National Education, ED1/95/7. The year written by Fr. Granton this application was 1831 but this was clearly a slip of the pen.

(2)       Michael Quane, “Wicklow Free School", in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. IIC, 2, 1968, pp 171-190. This article contains a comprehensive account of the fortunes of Wicklow Free School and the subsequent disposition of the lands with which it was endowed. See also National Archives (Four Courts), Quit Rent Office and Office of Woods files concerning the Castle Lands and Green Hill Field in Wicklow.

(3)       Quane, op. cit. p.173.

(4)       “Report of the State of Popery in Ireland in 1731", Archivium Hibernicum IV, pp. 131- 177.

(5)       Quane, op. cit. pp. 179-180

(6)       Second Report of the Commission of Public Instruction, Ireland, 1835.

(7)       Norman Atkinson, Irish Education: a history of educational institutions, Dublin, 1969’ pp 80-81. Synge not only established a school along Pestalozzian principles, he also persuaded mothers in the neighbourhood to adopt Pestalozzian methods in the instruction of their infants. One eighteen-month-old child was even said to have uttered the name “Pestalozzi”!

(8)       Endowed Schools, Ireland, Commission, 1858, Evidence concerning schools in Wicklow, 13676-13788, and Papers accompanying the Report, Vol III, pp258-266.

(9)       Census of Population 1821 Report, pp 126-127.

(10)     Pigot’s City of Dublin and Hibernian Provincial Directory, 1824.

(11)     National Archives, Records of the Commissioners of National Education, ED1/95/7.

(12)     Endowed Schools, Ireland, Commission, 1858, Evidence 13679. The Lord Lieutenant’s School Building Fund was established in 1819 largely as a result of agitation by William Parnell of Avondale. William Parnell, the grandfather of Charles Stewart Parnell, was M.P. for the County from 1817 to 1820 and was a strong campaigner for the amelioration of Roman Catholic grievances. He was also the leading light behind the County Wicklow Education Society which was trying to provide schools for the poor of Wicklow. (For further information on William Parnell see R.F. Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell: the man and his family, Sussex, 1979. For information on the County Wicklow Education Society see National Archives, State Paper Office, Official Papers 526/1/73.

(13)     National Archives, ED 1/95/7.

(14)     ibid. For information on the marriage of Brigid and John Thomas I am grateful to Joan Kavanagh of the Wicklow Heritage Project.

(15)     National Archives, ED2/49, ED2/156and ED2/157. The volumes are registers which summarise all letters, Board orders, and other communications passing between the Commissioners of National Education and national schools in County Wicklow.

(16)     National Archives, ED2/49/9.

(17)     ibid.

(18)     National Archives, ED1/95/58, ED2/49/10, 51, 124.

(19)     National Archives, ED2/49/9, 31, 107, ED2/156/14, ED1/96/1.

(20)     National Archives, ED2/156/88, ED 1/95/87.

(21)     National Archives, ED2/156/14.

(22)     Report of the Royal Commission of Enquiry into Primary Education (Ireland), 1868- 1870, Vol III, Reports: of the Assistant Commissioners, 1871, Report of Thomas King, Part II, Section III, District of Wicklow, pp.32-39.

(23)     ibid.

(24)     National Archives, ED2/156/15.

(25)     National Archives, EDI/97/33.

(26)     National Archives, ED 1/95/87, ED2/156/88, ED9/15663.

(27)     National Archives, ED1/97/33, ED2/157/11.

(28)     National Archives, ED/98/49/50.

(29)     National Archives, ED9/10929, 11859, 12938, 17276, 21920.

(30)     National Archives, ED2/156/88, ED9/1307, 14901.

(31)     National Archives, ED9/15663.

(32)     National Archives, ED2/156/14.

(33)     National Archives, ED9/15982.

(34)     ibid.

(35)     ibid.

(36)     National Archives, ED9/18219, 18398.

(37)     National Archives, ED9/18398, 18511.

(38)     Brother John Kavanagh, De La Salle Cill Mhantain 1912-1987, Wicklow, 1987.


The Hibernian Brick and Tile Company: This company was founded in 1862, by J. A. Walker and they manufactured red bricks and roofing tiles mainly.

The Chemical Works: The Chemical Company was founded in 1871 by a man called Frederick Ponsonby. The town commissioners granted him permission to establish the alkali works despite the sentiments of the local people who disliked the idea. The building can still be seen today at the upper end of the Murrough.

Gas Works: The Gas Works was opened in 1856. From 1857 the Gas Works supplied the lighting (street lamps etc.) for Wicklow Town.

Extracts from "The Murrough” by pupils from De La Salle College, Wicklow, who won the county final "Irish Times" Young Historians competition : Christian O'Niadh, Damien Sheridan, Damien Byrne, John Gorman, Brendan Flynn and Tony Mankertz.

Courtesy Mr. J. Hayes, Co. Librarian.

This page was added by Student Heritage on 20/09/2019.