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Excerpt from Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Ireland for the metropolis of Dublin (pub. 1837). For more snapshots of pre-famine local history for Dublin city parishes, see below.


The King's Hospital, or Free School of Charles II, commonly called the Blue-coat Hospital, was founded in 1670 by the corporation, and established by royal charter, for the reception of reduced citizens and the education of their children, to which latter object, for want of more extensive funds, it has necessarily been limited. It maintains, clothes, educates, and apprentices 100 boys, who receive a solid English and mercantile education, and such of them as are intended for the sea service are instructed in navigation. The building, erected at an expense of £21,000, consists of a centre and two wings ; the centre has an Ionic portico supporting a pediment, with an unfinished cupola, and contains apartments for the principal officers : the annual income is about £4000.

A Society for instructing the children of the poor in the English language and in the Protestant religion was incorporated by royal charter in 1730, under the title of the Incorporated Society for promoting English Protestant schools in Ireland, but is more generally known by that of the Charter School Society. It was originally maintained by donations, subscriptions, and bequests of money and lands, and subsequently by large grants of public money ; but these were discontinued some years since and the society left to its own resources. At the time of this change there were forty schools under its direction, two of which were in Dublin ; the number is now reduced to eight.

Two schools, supported by the funds of Erasmus Smith's bequest, have been established in Dublin, one in the Coombe, the other in St. Mark's parish.

The Hibernian Soldiers' School, situated in the Phoenix Park, was established in 1769 for the maintenance, clothing, and instruction of the children of soldiers. In addition to the usual branches of an English education, the boys are taught the trades of tailors and shoemakers, and the girls are instructed in needlework; both, when of proper age, are apprenticed to handicraft trades, and, by a new charter in 1808, the governours are empowered to place such children in the regular army, as private soldiers, as are desirous of entering into that service. The buildings consist of a centre and two wings, 300 feet in length and three stories high; there are extensive work-rooms for the children, and a farm of 13 acres is attached to the school, which is partly cultivated by the boys, whose time is divided between employment and recreation, in which athletic sports are encouraged: the school is supported by parliamentary grants and private donations : the average annual expenditure is about £4500: the number of children is about 200, of which one-third are girls.

The Hibernian Marine School was established by charter about the year 1777, for the maintenance of children of decayed seamen in the navy and merchants' service; the number of boys in this school is 180, who, when of proper age, are placed in the navy, or apprenticed to masters of merchantmen: the building, situated on Sir John Rogerson's Quay, consists of a centre and two wings; it is supported by parliamentary grants and private benefactions.

The Society for the Education of the Poor of Ireland, usually called the Kildare-place Society, was founded in 1811. Its object was the diffusion of a well-ordered and economical system of primary instruction throughout the country, without any interference with the religious opinions of the pupils, and the publication of cheap elementary books. It was almost wholly supported by large grants of public money, and built an extensive model school for males and females, with other accommodations for offices and stores in Kildare-place. The grants of public money have been withdrawn, and the society now proceeds on a more confined scale by voluntary contributions only.

The Association for Discountenancing Vice, formed in 1792, and incorporated by statute in 1800, also founded and assisted schools, in which education should be conducted upon Protestant principles, and likewise received large parliamentary grants, which were withdrawn at the same time as those to the Kildare-place Society.

To supply the place of these institutions, a Board of National Education has been formed for the education of children of all religious persuasions. The commissioners, who were appointed by the lord-lieutenant, are

  • the Duke of Leinster;
  • the Protestant and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin;
  • the Rev. Dr. Sadleir, senior fellow of T. C. D.;
  • Rev. James Carlile, minister of the Scotch Church ;
  • the Rt. Hon. Anthony R. Blake, Chief Remembrancer of the Court of Exchequer ;
  • and Robert Holmes, Esq., Barrister.

They transact their business in a large establishment in Marlborough-street, formerly the town residence of the Marquess of Waterford, at the rear of which three model schools have been built, and a building is now being erected for a lecture-room, museum, &c., with apartments for the secretary and inspector: it is chiefly supported by parliamentary grants.

The Dublin Free School was opened in School-street in 1808, for the instruction of poor children of both sexes, on the system of Joseph Lancaster: it is supported wholly by private subscriptions and a small weekly stipend from the pupils and is used both as a day and Sunday school.

The Sunday School Society was established in 1809, and up to January, 1835, had in connection with it 2813 schools, attended by 20,596 gratuitous teachers and 214,462 pupils. There are several highly respectable schools on a new system, "The Feinaiglean," which takes its name from Professor Von Feinagle, a native of Germany, who introduced it. The principal is the Luxemburgh, formerly Aldborough House, which was purchased from Lord Aldborough, who had expended upwards of £40,000 on its erection, and £15,000 raised in shares was laid out on it to adapt it for the purpose.

SEE ALSO Trinity College Dublin in the 1830s



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