Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sepia Saturday #285: Within these walls: 'School days'

School days, school days, 
dear old golden rule days,
Reading and 'riting and 'rithmatic,
taught to the tune of the hickory stick.
You were my queen in calico,
I was your bashful, barefoot beau,
You wrote on my slate,
'I love you Joe',
when we were a couple of kids.

It's funny how the mind works, isn't it? When I was looking at the inspiration image of the Chittenden Hotel for today's Sepia Saturday, these lyrics from a very old (1907) American chanty began to run through my head.

For reasons unknown to me, occasionally my Irish mother would sing this tune, while she was washing dishes, doing a simple mending job, or weeding in the back garden. When I was a child I thought it was a very silly rhyming bit, but it made my mother happy, and the light-hearted nature of it seemed to make quick work of the task at hand. I can still picture my mother working away, head slightly bobbing, as she trilled out this simple ditty.

How does this bring me to today's post? Well, the little tune, together with the image of the hotel building, reminded me of school and school buildings, and some of those educational institutions that have figured in my family history. So without further adieu, I give you, 'School days'.

The first set of images shows Clongowes Wood College in its various incarnations. Founded by the Jesuits in 1814, and situated just outside of Clane, in County Kildare, the college is a seven-day boarding school for boys. Several members of my family were educated here, including Andrew J. Kettle, who attended in the 1840s, and his sons Laurence Joseph Kettle and Thomas Michael Kettle, both of whom attended during the last decade of the 19th century.

The gateway into Clongowes Wood College remains much as it was from the school's inception.
©irisheyesjg.
'The Castle' of Clongowes Wood College in its earliest incarnation.
[National Library of Ireland]
The Castle, with the addition of the Boys' Chapel which was built in 1907.
[National Library of Ireland]
Clongowes Wood College as it looks today.
©irisheyesjg.
Additional buildings on the campus include the white building know as The People's Church.
Built from 1819-1821, it served as the Boys' Chapel until the current Boys' Chapel was built in 1907.
©irisheyesjg.
Back in County Dublin, in the lush pastoral setting of Rathfarnham, is St. Enda's Boys' School. My family's connection to the school comes from the paternal side of the family tree. According to my late father and his siblings, my paternal granduncle Patrick Geraghty was a member of the teaching staff of St. Enda's School. Patrick went on to teach at University College Cork, but of his time at St. Enda's, so far definitive proof eludes me.

Founded in 1908 by Pádraig Pearse — he who read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic at the outset of the 1916 Easter Rising — the school stands on 50 acres of woods and parkland.

With the view that conventional education was destroying young minds, instead of nurturing them, Pearse's antipodean methods seemed newer than new, but harkened back to the past and a theory of 'pure learning'. Gaelic culture and language were at the forefront of his educational system, as was Irish Nationalism, and the connection with the natural world was deeply ingrained in his philosophy.

The 'Hermitage' of St. Enda's School.
It is now the Pearse Museum.
©irisheyesjg.
The Dormitory.
©irisheyesjg.
The Study Hall as it once looked.
©irisheyesjg.
The Study Hall now stands empty of desks, though little else is changed.
©irisheyesjg.
The Chapel as it looked when the school was in operation.
©irisheyesjg.
The Chapel as it is today.
©irisheyesjg.
One of several follies secreted in the lush green landscape of the school.
©irisheyesjg.
Leaving behind the grandeur of Clongowes and the pastoral setting of St. Enda's, we head to the urban landscape, and the single simple granite building which comprised the Christian Brothers' School of St. Paul when it was founded in 1869. This was the school as my paternal grandmother's eldest brother Michael Magee knew it when he was in attendance in 1912. The school is located on North Brunswick Street in the Stoneybatter neighbourhood of Dublin City. With the passage of time the school has expanded, with 'modern' additions added on in later years; however, the original building still stands, and now houses the Boys' Primary School.

Although their programme of education was not as radical as that of St. Enda's School, nonetheless the Christian Brothers infused their lessons with more than a healthy dose of Irish Nationalism. Gaelic language and culture were also part of the curriculum. Such an education would have a profound impact on Michael Magee's life. In 1913, at the age of 15 years, Michael joined the Irish Volunteers. He fought during the 1916 Easter Rising, and would die as a member of the Active Service Unit in 1921 during the Irish War of Independence. Coincidentally, St. Paul's school fronts the street in an area in which 18 year old Michael was Volunteer Section Leader, serving with 'A' Company, 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The Christian Brothers' School of St. Paul,
North Brunswick Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin City, County Dublin.
©irisheyesjg.
Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday blog to connect with others and see how they have interpreted today's theme.


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All Rights Reserved.

12 comments:

  1. What handsome schools. If I were to track down where my ancestors attended school, I'd find most are no longer standing. The exception is the college my grandaunts attended, but that goes back to only the 1920s.

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    Replies
    1. Wendy, thanks very much for your comments. I agree with you, they are handsome schools, and it is great they are still standing. Clongowes still operates as a boys' boarding school, and I was fortunate to be there on the weekend of their 200th anniversary celebrations in the summer of 2014. My mam was so disappointed when her old day school was torn down; I would to have seen it too.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. We had seats like those in our study hall too during the 1960s.

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    Replies
    1. Kristin, thanks very much for your comment. How lucky you are to have had those seats. I just love the look of them.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. That dormitory reminds me very much of my own boarding school dormitory, at least the beds and the sprung wooden floor boards.

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    Replies
    1. Brett, thanks very much for your comment. I hope the image of the dormitory evokes good memories for you. Those beds look quite uncomfortable. I'm very much partial to the look of those sprung wooden floors, not to mention the enormous windows.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. My favorite picture is of the folly. Such an inviting-looking place.

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    Replies
    1. La Nightingail, thanks very much for your comment. The folly is in a wonderful spot, the perfect pastoral setting. When you go down the stairs, as you proceed to the left it leads to a small bridge over a waterfall and a pond the boys used for swimming, all in keeping with Pearse's desire for his students to be very much connected to the natural world.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. The thing I love most about SS is that every week I get the opportunity to experience a different perspective of the world, narrated and pictured. I dinna expect the schools to show up today, but I loved every bit of your family tour through these halls of education. The old schools look a bit ominous, and I would guess that they took the task of educating seriously. Thanks for the experience.

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    Replies
    1. Joan, thanks very much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I very happy these schools still exist, especially given my family's connection to them. As you say, they took the task of educating seriously. My father attended a Christian Brothers' School in Dublin and his tales of corporal punishment at that school were hair-raising.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. What amazing pictures. School and the buildings were an important part of my life. I still enjoy receiving the newsletters and hearing about what is going on and going back and having a look every 10 years or so. Great take on this week's theme.

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    Replies
    1. Alex, thanks so much for your comments. I feel the same way you do. I loved school and was heartbroken when my secondary school was closed down. At least they didn't tear it down; a few years ago it was retrofitted and re-purposed as a residence for seniors. Occasionally, I go back, and just seeing the building evokes happy memories.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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