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The National School system 1831

The system was established in late 1831 under the principles outlined by Lord Stanley. A Board of Commissioners was set up which comprised three Protestants, two Catholics and one Presbyterian and Free Church member, totaling seven in all The two Catholic representatives were Richard Blake, a barrister, and Archibald Murray of Dublin. It was the wish of the English

Government cooperate in

that clergy conducting

and laity from the different religions should the system. Most of the hierarchy approved,




















Gregory XVI evidence that

encouraged support for the it was injurious to religion.






These schools were financed differently, dependent on whether they were vested in the Board of Commissioners, in Trustees made up of local taxpayers or were non vested. Vested schools received more. State aid e.g. two thirds of the building costs. They were also more closely regulated.

A sign indicating place and date of erection was to be prominently displayed outside each building, as is still evidenced in old Cloghoola, Cullen and Rathduane schools. Rathduane which is the oldest functioning school in the parish has a slab which reads "Rathduane National School AD 1869". John McCarthy of Rathduane House, who owned lands in Knocknagullane, provided the site. The school which was later added to, was vested in the Commissioners. In all schools the teachers' salaries were paid by the Board of Education. The local Parish Priest or Clergyman was usually appointed manager. He had responsibility for ongoing maintenance costs and the appointment of teachers etc.

The various reports of the Commissioners show a rapid growth in the number of schools and in attendance, up to the end of the 19th Century. In 1833, there were 780 schools with 107,042 pupils. By 1900 the numbers had increased to 8,684 schools with 745,861 pupils.

In Cork County, the number of schools grew from 83 in 1835 to 753 by 1900. From the outset it was stipulated that a register should be kept in each school recording daily attendance and average weekly and quarterly attendance. Whilst the system helped to eliminate illiteracy and provide widespread education, it had some shortcomings. It was far from national, in that neither the history of the country nor the Irish language were taught. The medium was


English. Thus in a sense, the system, together with the Famine and consequent emigration, contributed to a rapid decline in the use of the Irish language during the second half of the 19th Century. The non- national mentality is reflected in this extract from a Geography text book used at the time "Many people who live in Ireland were bora in England and we speak one language and are one nation" ('History of Ireland', Vol. II, J J Feeney, 1958,p.62).

National Schools in the Parish.

There are five National schools in the parish which will now be considered in chronological sequence, together with the Presentation Convent School.

The Girls Primary School

The Presentation Sister came to Millstreet in 1840 at the invitation of the then P P, Fr Fitzpatrick and on May 28th the convent opened with four sisters and Mother Clare Barry in charge. The construction of the primary school followed shortly afterwards and throughout the 19th Century it consistently maintained high academic standards. A report from Dr Moriarty, following his visit in January 1866, has this comment "There are about 300 children in the school. These few women have a school not surpassed by any in the Diocese". There were seven nuns at the time and the Superior was Sr. Xavier O'Callaghan. The school registers date back to 1873.

Cullen National school

The plot of the old school in Cullen was leased to Fr Fitzpatrick in 1846 and the first school opened in 1847 at Lislehane Cross, on the recently constructed New Line from Mallow to Rathmore. This was a two roomed school for boys and girls with an additional room added in 1873. It continued in use until it was replaced by the present school, built in 1938, a little further to the east along the Mallow road. The registers date back to 1918.

Diarmuid O'Cadhla, from Cullen, has published detailed information regarding the various teachers at the school since its inception. Many of his forebears were teachers in Cullen. The following details were abstracted from his article entitled "The old schools in Cullen" (Seanchas Duthalla Vol. XIV 2006 p.27 et seq.). Diarmuid was a founding member of the Journal in 1975:

Hanoria Dennehy, of Millstreet, was the first Mistress. She married Denis Hickey, a publican in the village. After his death in the early 1880's, she married a police sergeant, Robert Dunne. She


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