Dundalk Grammar School

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  • County Louth Archaeological and History Society

    Dundalk Grammar SchoolAuthor(s): Michael QuaneSource: Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1966), pp. 91-102Published by: County Louth Archaeological and History SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27729125 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 02:17

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  • Bunbaife Grammar ?s>d)uol

    By Dr. Michael Quane

    In the year 1891 a visitor to Dundalk noted that "

    at the entrance to the town there is a

    Charity School, as appears by the following inscription in golden letters over the door1: This School was founded at the sole expence of the Honourable Anne Hamilton for the education of

    Twenty Boys and Twenty Girls, 1726. And improved into a Charity Working School 1738. Train up a child in his youth the way he should go in, and when he is old he will not depart therefrom.

    The date, 1726, would, however, appear to be incorrect, as in a pamphlet published in 1721 for

    J. Hyde, Bookseller, Dame Street, Dublin, there is a notice of two Charity Schools in County Louth?one in Drogheda (supported by local subscriptions and a yearly sermon) and one in Dundalk with regard to which one reads

    Dundalk. A Charity School erected about 1716 of twenty Children, Clothed, Taught and to be put out to

    Services; supported by the Honourable Mrs Hamilton of Dundalk.2

    These Charity Schools were set up in Ireland by the wealthy minority in imitation of hundreds of similar schools set up in England from 1698

    " by persons eminent for their Learning and Piety . . .

    wherein the Children of the Poor might be decently clothed, and usefully educated, being taught to read, write and cast accompts, and instructed in the Knowledge and Practice of the Christian

    Religion, as professed and taught by the Established Church, and from whence they might be

    apprenticed to useful trades and callings."3 When the movement spread to Ireland, Protestants here

    " Considering also that by the laws

    of this Realm, no Papist can teach School, and a succession of the Romish clergy is likewise

    prohibited, the children of Papists must be abandoned to the grossest ignorance of Christian and moral Duties, unless some care be taken to breed them up in the knowledge of them ; and forasmuch as mild and gentle methods are in their own nature most effectual for the Propagation of Religion : it has been judged a farther reason for erecting Charity Schools in this Kingdom, wherein the

    Children of the Popish Natives, being Instructed, Clothed and taken Care of, along with our own, may be so won by our affentionate endeavours, that the whole Nation may become Protestant and

    English, and all such Rebellions as have heretofore arisen from the Difference between us in

    Religion, Language and Interest, for the future be prevented/'4 The Charity School movement in Ireland

    " obtained only in a place of two till the year 1710,"

    but in 1716, when Mrs. Hamilton set up her school in Dundalk, there were about thirty schools.

    By 1720 the number of schools was about one hundred and sixty, with more than three thousand children in attendance. Children were taken in between the ages of eight and twelve, and subse

    quently bound as apprentices to trades or services with masters who were bound to "

    cause his said apprentices to attend the Divine Service of the Established Church on every Lord's Day at least in the Church of the Parish where he shall dwell, without permitting him to be present at

    any other place of worship whatsoever."

    Lady Ann Hamilton, mother of James Hamilton, Viscount Limerick, had purchased in 1716 Lord BeUew's property in Dundalk. She later made further purchases of various premises in the

    town, and in 1724 she conveyed all her Dundalk property to her son, Viscount Limerick, declaring that she had bought it in trust for him. Before her death, Mrs. Hamilton nominated three trustees to continue her Charity School. These were her son (Viscount Limerick), the Protestant Primate and Thomas Fortescue. The Charity School movement was not, however, producing the results

    i. Report for the year i8gi on the Fund for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead, ed. by Col. P. D.

    Vigors, 1893, p. 448. 2. Methods of Erecting, Supporting and Governing Charity Schools, 3rd edn. Dublin, 1721.

    3. ibid., p. 3.

    4. ibid., p. 3.


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    expected of it; the main reason being that the Catholic parents declined to send their children to these schools. Another scheme then emerged which w7as to be known as the Charter School

    system. Under this scheme a new set of charity schools were to be set up on a nation-wide basis,

    and the children in these schools were to be all Catholics. On 17 April, 1730 the Protestant

    Primate, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishops, Noblemen, Bishops, Judges, Gentry and Clergy of his Kingdom of Ireland represented to George II by petition

    That in many parts of our said Kingdom there are great tracts of mountainy and coarse land, of ten, twenty and thirty miles in length, and considerable breadth, almost entirely inhabited by Papists, and that in most

    parts of the same and more especially in the Provinces of Leinster, Munster and Connaught, the Papists far exceed the Protestants of all denominations in number. That the generality of the Popish Natives

    appear to have little sense or knowledge of Religion, but what they implicitly take from their Clergy, to whose guidance in such matters, they seem wholly to give themselves up, and thereby are kept, not only in

    gross ignorance, but also in great disaffection to our person and government, scarce any of them appearing to have been willing to abjure the Pretender to our Throne. So that if some effectual method be no tmade use of to instruct these great numbers of people in the principles of true religion and loyallty, there is little

    prospect but that Superstition and Idolatry and Disaffection to us and Our Royal Posterity will, from Generation to Generation, be propagated amongst them.

    That amongst the ways proper to be taken for converting and civilising of the said deluded persons, and bringing them (through the blessing of God) in time to be good Christians and faithful Subjects, one of the most necessary, and without which, all others are likely to prove ineffectual, has always been thought to

    be the erecting and establishing a sufficient number of English Protestant Schools, wherein the Children of the Irish natives may be instructed in the English tongue, and the fundamental principles of True


    In this way the infamous Society for the Promotion of Protestant Working Schools in Ireland came into existence. The main purpose of this project was to increase the Protestant population by

    " rescuing the children of the poor natives from that ignorance, superstition and idolatry, to

    which they were devoted from their infancy ; and to train them up in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which alone are able to make them wise to salvation ; and in the pure Protestant faith and worship." The Society so founded by the Charter of 24 October, 1733 founded a Correspond ing Society in England, from which substantial financial aid was annually obtained because of such representations as

    Charity can never be carried higher than to rescue the Souls of Thousands of poor Children from the Dangers of Popish Superstition and Idolatry, and their Bodies from the miswries of Idleness and Beggary. This is not retailing Charity to Particulars, but diffusing it over a whole Nation ; it is a Charity that will make those who are at present a Nuisance and a Burden to their Country, to become a Treasure and a Blessing to it; that will make honest and industrious Men, of those who would have been brought up in Thievery and

    Rags, it is a Charity that wTill multip lyobedient and peacable Subjects to the King and render the Protest ants of Ireland safe in their Lives and Possessions. And it will for ever take away the chief Cause of those

    Disquietudes and Apprehensions, which, upon some former Conjunctures, have alarmed the Government and People of England, by reason of the neighbourhood of a formidable Body of Papists, devoted to the See of Rome, and ready to rebel at the Instigation of their Priests, or the secret Machinations of a foreign Enemy.2

    The first Charter School was erected at Castledermot i