August Document of the Month
To coincide with this year’s Heritage Week theme ‘Heritage and Education: Learning from our Heritage’ our document of the month is an application from the ED/1 collection for the supply of books and teacher’s salary for the St Peter and Paul Evening school in Cork City in 1847.
The application, ref. NAI, ED 1/15/58, is unusual in that it was made by the District Inspector of National Schools Thomas Cormac, who established the school to provide education to working adults. In the accompanying letter, Cormac outlines his reasons for undertaking ‘the experiment in the present instance’ as he feels there is a need to cater for adults and asks the Commissioners of National Education to give special consideration to his proposal ‘as the advantages arising, or likely to arise from the establishing of evening schools (are understood and appreciated by none so well as by the Board’. See here for the full digitised document.
The ED/1 collection contains 102 volumes of applications made to the Commissioners of National Education by schools for grants toward the payment of teachers’ salaries, the supply of books or the construction of school buildings. The ED/1 collection is a hugely important collection providing a unique insight into the development of education in Ireland. The applications date from the foundation of the national school system in 1831 to approximately 1890, and include an application by almost every national school. In order to qualify for grants, schools had to comply with strict rules set out by the Commissioners of National Education, including those regarding the teaching of religion, which was forbidden. Although correspondence accompanying the applications does not survive in the majority of cases, where it is present it provides a valuable insight into the development of education and also the social history of 19th century Ireland.
Transcript of the accompanying letter to the application from Thomas Cormac, 16 December 1847
Transcript of the accompanying letter to the application from Thomas Cormac.
Cork, 16 December 1847
I forward herewith an application for aid for an Evening School which after much difficulty I succeeded in establishing in this City, A great obstacle presented itself in obtaining a place sufficiently central to secure an attendance, but the manager of the SS Peter and Pauls’s Natl [National] School gave consent to have it open for the purpose in the evenings, the Teacher engaging to pay a certain portion of the Rent.
Now I propose trying the experiment in the present instance under my own management, and at a future period, when the Model School shall be built, the school can be transferred to it, for which reasons I would have the school under the direction and management of the District Inspector, pending the establishing of the District Model School-The number at present in attendance is small and I am induced on this account to make application to put the school in connection with the Board at once as I know that if it had the advantages of salary, books and particulary the name and character of a National School the attendance would be considerable. I am sure the Board will view attendance in adult schools in a different light from that in others, it must be expected to be much more progressive the very novelty of such schools will have this effect as their existence cannot be generally known until they shall have been established a considerable time, and I would therefore suggest that aid should be granted in anticipation of attendance than as the result of it, particularly when the school is established as in the present instance, in a populous City.
The advantages arising, or likely to arise from the establishing of evening schools giving to National Education a retrospect as well as a prospective agency are understood and appreciated by none so well as by the Board and I feel confident they will lend every assistance that their rules will permit to extend those advantages as largely as possible and I earnestly entreat the assistance I require to enable me to carry out the object I have in view in making this application. The Teacher I have appointed is one I have known as National Teacher for a length of time he is eminently qualified for the office and a person of very solid acquirements, should the Board entertain this application favourably I would suggest that his salary should date from the 1st October 1847. I would also recommend that a grant for fittings should be made such fittings to be moveable, to be the property of the Board and to be transferred with the School at any period the Board might deem fit to remove it elsewhere. The District Inspector being the Manager would always have a security in his hands that those conditions should be complied with, the fittings I would consider necessary would be some desks with seats a book press & a black board
I have the honor to remain
Your obt Servt [Your obedient servant]
District Inspector of Natl [National] Schools
See here for the full digitised document.