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The Leinster Express, Saturday, December 31, 1859, Page 3(?- no pagination).
Athy Model Schools
(From our Reporter)
The annual examinations of the pupils in these schools took place on Thursday, last week. The attendance was numerous and respectable, amongst which we noted-The Rev. F.S. and Lady Helena Trench, Rev. H. F. Macdonald, Rev. J. Hall; Captain Mudie (Scots Greys), and Miss Mudie; Sub Inspector Lawson and family; Mrs. Sherlock (Ardleigh), and Mrs. Orford; Mr. Sherlock, Mr. and Mrs. Carter (Athy Gaol); Mr. Duncan, Mr. and Mrs. Hannon, Mr. and Miss Clayton, Mrs. Fogarty, Mr. Pennycuick (Quarry Farm); Mrs. Bulwer (Barrowford); Mrs. And Miss Hutchinson, Mr. and the Misses O’Neill (Ballycullane); F. Crosbie, Esq., Miss Braddle, the Misses Butler (Ardmore); Mrs. Beard, Miss Connelly, Miss Cross, Mrs. Peppard, Miss Lawler, Mrs. Dillon, Mrs. And Miss Borroughs, Mr. and Miss Lodge, Mrs. And Miss Plewman, the Misses Molloy, Dr. Irving, Mr. O’Melin, Mr. Lawler (Nag’s Head); Mr. Cooper, Mr. F. Cross, & c.,&c.
The examinations commenced at half-past 11 o’clock, and were conducted in a manner which afforded every facility for correctly ascertaining the proficiency of the pupils; and the answering in every class was excellent, and bore witness to the ability and assiduity of the male and female teachers, and croked the satisfaction of parents, visitors, and those interested in the success of the system. The ordeal of time has now sufficiently developed and made manifest the advantages which National Schools possess over all prior modes of instruction, placing within the reach of the humblest a scientific, commercial and agricultural education on the soundest principles. More infants are “at home” on topics which, in our school days, would be very apt to puzzle the master himself. A revolution in education is a sure harbinger of a corresponding change in the habits and feelings of the society on which it acts; therefore, the perpetuation and extension of these schools is a thing to be desired by all who wish to see in this country intelligence supersede ignorance, prejudice, and credulity, and the moral and social condition of the people improved.
The performance of the pupils in the singing classes was a treat. The introduction of a piano, at which Mr. Drill ably presided, gave the entertainment quite the effect of a concert. The melody of “Beautiful Star,” as well as the “Elfin Chorus,” were rendered in a style that would have done credit to that inimitable band if Choristers, the Christ’s Minstrels. At the conclusion of the proceedings, the head inspector,
Mr. Fleming, addressed the audience as follows:- Ladies and Gentlemen- It now becomes my very pleasing duty to return to you my warmest thanks for the deep interest you have manifested in the annual public examination of the pupils attending the Athy Model Schools. My respected colleague, Mr. Molloy, our exemplary teachers, together with their pupils of all classes, heartily join me in this expression of thanks. It is truly gratifying to witness so large and respectable a meeting on a public occasion of this kind, for, by your presence here today, you encourage the teachers to persevere in those efforts by which they have gained so high a character for their schools. I do believe they have honourably earned this mark of your approbation, by their steadiness, good temper, and professional ability. I am, indeed, comparatively speaking, a stranger here, and, consequently, not in a position to form an adequate opinion of the proficiency of the several classes in all these subjects specified in the school programme, and which is to be regarded as stating the minimum standard of attainments. But I am informed by the District Inspector, Mr. Molloy, a gentleman in whose judgement I place the fullest reliance, that the utmost zeal and intelligence have been uniformly exhibited by the teachers in this institution, from the first day they entered on those duties, which they continue to discharge to his entire satisfaction. It is right to state this publicly, for none but those experienced in the business of school keeping can form any conception of the great labour, mental and physical, entailed on those who honestly devote their best energies to the intellectual development and moral training of a large number of children. Teachers of that stamp are, I submit, fairly entitled to a public acknowledgement of their services whenever the opportunity presents itself. I believe the examination you have just witnessed is calculated to afford encouragement and hope to the promoters of sound education. But, apart from the answering of the pupils, which I trust you regard as satisfactory, you will I am sure easily understand that the very appearance of this spacious apartment, well lighted, thoroughly ventilated and provided with suitable arrangements for class and collective teaching, large maps, drawings of natural objects and every necessary school requisite, is exceedingly striking and cannot fail to leave deep and lasting impressions upon the children’s minds. Parents must, however, recollect that all these advantages will avail of little without an earnest and hearty co-operation on their side. They should as far as practicable enforce punctual and regular attendance at School on the part of their children. Otherwise teachers’ labors will be unproductive of any permanent good and the future prospects of their pupils will of course be seriously injured. In making these remarks I am bound to state that the pupils of this establishment, have been much more regular in their attendance than in most of the ordinary town and rural National Schools. You are doubtless well aware that many excellent and enlightened men entertain different and in some cases conflicting views on the subject of popular education. Nevertheless, all agree on one point-that religion and education should go hand in hand, and that more book learning, as it is styled, unaccompanied by moral training and religious teaching, is an evil to be deprecated by all sections of the community. It is further admitted that religious studies are rather promoted than injured by a well-regulated plan of secular instruction, which tends to improve our mental facilities, to open the understanding, and to enlarge our sympathies. Now the teachers of this institution spare no exertions to carry out these principles to their fullest extent. I believe I am quite safe in appealing to the parents on this very important subject, for they must be aware that their children have received a large amount of religious instruction during their attendance at these schools. In fact their proficiency in religious knowledge has been tested on many occasions, and invariably with the same result, one alike satisfactory to parents, examiners, and teachers. I beg to add, which I do with sincere pleasure, that although Protestants and Roman Catholics here meet in the same classes, and are daily occupied with the same studies, yet in no case has a single word of acrimony or recrimination been heard in reference to the subject of religious differences. On the contrary, their mutual intercourse has ever been characterised by a kind, obliging manner, and by the most respectful courtesy. Here Roman Catholic and Protestant are on a footing that is of the most perfect equality: no privilege open to one class that is not equally available to the other; and in this way all are practically prepared for that first and most essential duty of a citizen of a free country-forbearance and toleration in their dealings, with those who differ from them on political or religious grounds. It is with very deep regret that I have to inform you that in consequence of the death of a beloved child, Mr. Molloy has not been in a position to assist me in preparing lists of those pupils, who by their general good conduct and proficiency in literary acquirements, have proved themselves deserving of premiums and certificates of merit. But I undertake to say, that those lists shall be completed before the termination of the present week. I now beg to conclude those few and hurried remarks, and have only to add that it is open to any gentleman to address this meeting, in reference to the subject matter of our proceedings.
Mr. Duncan proposed that the thanks of the meeting to be given to the Inspectors and Teachers for the manner in which the school has been conducted, and for the superior answering of the pupils, and in doing so prefaced it as followed:- I trust it will not be considered pretentious or obstructive in one so humble as myself, without premeditation or preconcertion, to move at this large and respectable meeting, the resolution which I hold in my hand. Deeply interested, and identified as I am in the well-being of Athy, I cannot but rejoice at what I have seen and heard today. The general management and control-the range and character of the instruction given-the skill and fitness of the teachers-the appearance, attainments, and progress of the scholars-and the order and harmony that prevail in all the departments of this institution, as evidenced in this day’s proceedings, must make it a great boom to this town and district. As I listened, I almost wished myself young again, that I might be a sharer in the advantages possessed by the children now before us. I trust that they will never think the valuable instruction they receive here, is to be laid aside when they retire from this school, but using it as a means to an end, that they will advance in intelligence and worth in their several spheres. My own children have attended here with much satisfaction, and but for domestic arrangements I should feel it a privilege to send them still. The care bestowed, and talents engaged, in teaching these young people, from the infant of 2 years to the young man or woman, must be, of no common kind; and as due to the inspector, Mr. Molloy, in whose recent bereavements, I am sure, the scholars, and this assembly cordially sympathise, the master, and all the teachers, I beg to move the resolution I have already read.
The Rev. Mc Donald said he had great pleasure in seconding a resolution, proposing a vote of thanks to those who had so much zeal and efficiency, devoted their time and energies in producing a result as satisfactory as the excellent answering in the several branches of education, which they had just had the gratification of hearing. Nothing could be more satisfactory than the general answering of the pupils, manifesting an amount of information most creditable to the teachers and the taught, which result could not have been attained without great painstaking on the part of the inspector and teachers, as well as much attention on the part of the pupils. He felt therefore that thanks were most justly due to them. He was happy to be able to agree with Mr. Fleming’s statement that there was no disunion or religious animosity existing in these schools, of which he had the fullest opportunity of judging from his frequent visits to the school. He felt it very important to impress a suggestion, offered by Mr. Fleming, on the minds of all the parents present, that they should not on any trivial grounds keep their children from regular attendance, that the absence of one or two days in the each week, or more occasionally, offered a most serious hindrance to their progress, which might account for some of the pupils not answering as well as might have been expected of them. Mr. Mc Donald expressed his own sentiments, as doubtless he did of all present, when he offered his sincere sympathy to the local Inspector, Mr. Molloy in the trying domestic affliction, which they had just learned he had been visited with. The resolution being put from the chair, was carried with acclamation. Mr. Molloy briefly returned thanks on the part of the teachers and himself. The Rev. F. S. Trench also spoke in most favorable terms of the working of the establishment.
Singing closed the proceedings, where all separated, much pleased with the days proceedings.
The following were selected for premiums-
Henry O’ Neill, Thomas St. John, John Kelly, Felix Kilbride, Robert St. John, James O’ Beirne, William Lodge, Thomas Digan, Samuel Mc Elwaine, Thomas Plewman, Fred. Guest, Alfred Phipps, John Manders. James Williamson, Richard Plewman, P. Heydon, Benjamin Morton, Richard Eaton, James Moore, Thomas Byrne, William Peppard, John Tarleton, S. Rainsford, Edward Murtha, J. Germaine, Henry J. Carter, John Mc Donnell, Patrick Tierney, Henry Mc Elwaine, Peter Lyons, Edward J. Carter, James Mahon, John D. Mc Donald, Edward Dunn, George Burroughs, Thomas Holmes, Robert Norman, Wm. Mahon, Richard Digan, Tom Roberts, W. Delaney, M. Murphy, H. St. John, William Byrne, Charles J. Carter, John Norman, Henry Molloy, Peter F. Reddy, Joseph Leahy, Thomas Heffernan, Robert Baily, Patt Hyland, John Domigan, Michael O’ Beirne, R. Harrington.
Mary Gilmore, Martha Smyth, Mary Lawler, Ellen Toomey, Mary A. Lodge, Mary Heffernan, Bridget Noud, Anna Kane, Mary A. Lawler, Sarah Rainsford, Margaret Darcy, Julia Hughes, Harriet Fleming, Margaret Roberts, Maria Noud, Mary Doyle, Ellen Drill, Margaret Reilly, Kate Reilly, Sarah Barrington, Kate Hogan, Sarah Farrell, Eliza Doyle, Eliza Stynes, Alicia Silke, Anne Furney, Bridget Mulhall, Anna Kilbride, Mary Nolan, Helena Mc Elwaine, Rose Keegan, Anne Murtha, Anne Dunphy, Mary J. Hill, Mary Tierney, Margaret Maher, Mary Farrell, Ellen Farrell.
Anne Manders, Hanna Sherlock, Fanny Molloy, Bridget Fitzgerald, Francis Minchin, Thos. Peppard, William Cobbe, Bridget Egan, Lizzie Freeman, John Knowles, Edward Plewman, W. Connolly, Ann Rainsford, Patt Toomey, J. Morton, J. Ivers, Christopher Redfern, Mary Crampton, Joseph Fitzgerald, Thomas Lodge, John Doyle, Mary Roberts, Patt Knowles, Ellen A. Collins, Mary Doyle, Ellen Lawler, Jacob Heburn, John Connor, Patt Peppard.
A follow up article on Athy Model Schools from the Leisnter Express of 31 December 1859 which lists the sudents at the time.
[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan]

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