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Killeshandra from 1826
In 1824 a commission was set up to inquire into the state of
Irish education. Its report, published in 1826, gives a picture of the state of primary
education in the country on a parish by parish basis. It gives details on schools which we
do not have from any other source. It outlines the townland in which the school was
situated, the name and religion of the teacher and whether the school was a pay-school or
a free-school. The free-schools obtained financial help from the London Hibernian Society
or from the Kildare Street Society or from some other source.
According to the report Killeshandra had 17 schools, 13 pay-schools and 4 free-schools.
The free-schools were the Protestant schools of Drumalt (Arva) and Derrylane, the
Presbyterian school at Drumbess and a Catholic school at Behy. Almost all the non-Catholic
free-schools received some financial assistance from either the London Hibernian Society
or from the Kildare Street Society. The former was established in 1806 'to promote true
religion in Ireland' and the latter in 1811 as a non-sectarian society to promote
education among the poor of Ireland. They were both condemned by the Catholic bishops in
1820 for alleged proselytising activities. With the exception of Behy, all the Catholic
schools were pay-schools. Most of them were private enterprises conducted in very poor
conditions by a master who received an uncertain salary ranging from £5 to £15 per
annum. The attendance returns given by the Catholic clergy report a total of 1,138 pupils
(674 boys and 464 girls) attending the various schools in the parish.
Killeshandra Classical School was one of the best known of the West
Cavan Classical schools. According to tradition it existed from the early years of the
century. The 1826 report gives Michael Heslin as the teacher. It had seven pupils on the
roll, five Catholic and two Protestant. Mr Heslin was paid the rather good salary of £34
per annum. The school continued to exist down to 1860.
In 1831 the Stanley Act established the National School system in Ireland. In 1835 the
report of another education commission was published. This report shows that Portaliffe
and Derrylane Protestant schools were supported by Lord Farnham. The other non-Catholic
schools were still in receipt of some help from the London Hibernian Society. The catholic
schools were all pay-schools and there was still no National School in the parish. The
subjects taught in the schools were reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing for girls.
Religious instruction was given in Sunday schools.
The 1831 Commission Report on Killeshandra Schools
The following list of Killeshandra schools comes from the 1831 Commission Report.
PORTLONGFIELD: A male and female day-school supported by Lord Farnham and conducted by Henry Fleming, who received a salary £36.18.6 per annum as well as a house and two acres of land. It had 70 boys and 76 girls on roll, with an average attendance of 82.
DERRYLANE: A male and female day-school. It was also supported by Lord Farnham. The teacher was Henry Kennedy and it had 85 boys and 79 girls on the roll, with an average attendance of 94.
BRUCE (HALL): A male day-school run by John Vahey. It had 49 boys on the roll with 23 as the average. It received grants of books from the London Hibernian Society as well as an annual subscription of £1.1.0.
BRUCE (HALL): A Female school taught by Mrs Vahey. It had a roll of 77 girls (average 30). It received £11 from the London Ladies' Society and also an allowance from the London Hibernian Society.
GEORGE VAHEY: Also conducted a Sunday School at Bruce Hall, free of charge. It was attended by 32 boys and 57 girls (average 65).
CORRANEA: A hedge school run by Thomas Sheridan. It had 46 boys and 19 girls (average 60). They made payments of between 1/- and 2/6 per quarter.
In 1858 there were ten schools in the parish: Corraneary, Dernaweel, Derrylane,
Arva (Church Education Society School) , Arva (National School in Pound St.), Drumcoghill,
Gorteenaterriff, Portaliffe National School, and Portlongfield. Killeshandra had two other
schools, one in Castle St. and the other in Church St.
The Catholic Schools