Our archives

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.


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Transcript of the accompanying letter to the application from Thomas Cormac, 16 December 1847

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