Elusive Education-Policy Planning around Non-English Languages in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Nicholas Wolf | New York University

Patrick Keenan (1856)

"The shrewdest people in the world are those who are bilingual . . . But the most stupid children I have ever met with are those who were learning English while endeavouring to forget Irish . . . The real policy of the educationist would, in my opinion, be to teach Irish grammatically and soundly to the Irish speaking people, and then to teach them English through the medium of their native language."

Christopher Anderson (1835)

"The British Crown, and the British Constitution, and the English tongue, may have many charms; but, in the whole combined, there is not one which can amuse away, or beguile a people from the language which their mothers give them."

--Ireland, but Still Without the Ministry of the Word in Her Own Native Language (1835)

IBerno-Celtic SOciety (1818)

"The principle objects of this Society shall be the preservation of the venerable remains of Irish literature, by collecting, transcribing, illustrating, and publishing the numerous fragments of the Laws, History, Topography, Poetry, and Music of ancient Ireland."

--Transactions of the Iberno-Celtic Society, vol. 1 (1820)

Census Enumeration Form (1851)

Garret FitzGerald, Irish Primary Education (2013)

School Type, 1824 % of all schools % of all pupils
Bible Societies 10.1 12.8
Kildare Place Society 4.5 5.8
Other 2.7 2.4
Pay Schools 82.7 79.0

National Folklore collection

"Bhí scoile scairte i gCuibhreann ag Dick Madigan, Cíarraidheach, go dtí 58 blíana ó shoin. Fear bacac crosta ab eadh é agus bhíodh an scoil ar siúbhal 'na thigh féin. Bhí an ghaedhilg go líomhtha aige agus núair bhíodh sé ar buile, labharadh sé í ag cáineadh na scoláirí acht dá gcloiseadh sé focal gaedhilge dá labhairt ag na scolairí do thabharfadh sé léasadh dóibh."

 

"Dick Madigan, a Kerryman, had a hedge school in Querrin up until 58 years ago. He was a despicable, difficult man, and the school was held in his own house. He had fluent Irish, and when he was angry he would speak it when admonishing the students but if he heard a word of Irish spoken by the students he would give them a flogging."

 

--Bean Uí Chobhthaigh, National Folklore Schools Collection, vol. 633 (1937)

National Folklore collection

"Irish was spoken by the masters. The master's name was Daniel Roche, who came from Limerick...The principal subjects were Latin and Irish."

 

--Thomas Keane, National Folklore Schools Collection, vol. 351 (ca. 1937)

National Folklore collection

"Bhí sean scoil i mBaile Uí Dhuibhne fadó agus Tomás Ó Fínn (?) an ainm a bhí ar an bhPríomh múinnteóir . . . Fear ón gceanntar seo do b'ead Tomás agus bhí an Gaodhluinn go blasta aige. Gaodhluinn go léir a bhíodh ar siubhal ar scoil acu. Ní bhíodh aon Bhéarla á labhairt aca agus sin é an cúis go bhfuil an Ghaodhluinn cómh maith ag na sean daoine anois."

 

"There was an old school in Ballyquin [Baile Uí Dhuibhne >> Baile Uí Dhuinn] long ago and Tomás Ó Fínn was the name of the head master…Tomás was a man from this area and he knew Irish well. It was Irish entirely in their school. They didn’t speak English and that’s why the old folks now have such good Irish."

 

--Eibhlín Ní Shuileabháin, National Folklore Schools Collection, vol. 429 (1937)

Victorian Literary Languages: Education and Literacy

By Nicholas Wolf

Victorian Literary Languages: Education and Literacy

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