Tuam Schools in the Nineteenth Century

by Jarlath A. O'Connell

An extract from the 'Galway Reader', Vol. 2. Nos. 3 and 4. Pages 171 - 179

Saint Jarlath's College

St. Jarlath's College, Tuam

A photograph of St. Jarlath's College, Tuam; the photograph is part of the Valentine collection at Galway library.

Most Rev. Dr. Dillon was the first Catholic Archbishop of Tuam to reside openly in the town since the death of Archbishop O'Queely at Sligo in 1645. He was appointed on the 19th November 1798 and immediately took up residence in a two storey thatched house near the present corner of Tullinadaly Rd and Foster Place. In 1800 he decided to found a Diocesan College and it is interesting to note that although the Penal Laws had been considerably relaxed, he had first to obtain the permission of Dr. William Beresford the Protestant Archbishop. The following is a copy of the Licence which was granted:

The Palace,
17th October, 1800
William by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Tuam by Divine permission Bishop of Ardagh, Primate and Metropolitan of the Province of Connaught to our beloved in Christ, the Rev. Oliver Kelly, of Tuam aforesaid, greeting.

Whereas the Most Rev. Edward Dillon, Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Diocese of Tuam and Roman Catholic Primate of Connaught, hath by his nomination in writing, bearing date the 13th day of October in the year of Our Lord 1800 appointed and recommended unto us you, the said Oliver Kelly as a fit and proper person to keep a preparatory school for the Royal College of St. Patrick, Maynooth, to be by him holen in the towns of Tuam, County of Galway and diocese of Tuam aforesaid and we therefore being satisfied as to your abilities and due qualifications in discharging your duty therein and having therefore accepted of such, the appointment of the said Rev. Edward Dillon, do by these presents grant and confirm unto you the office of employment of school master of the said preparatory school for Maynooth as aforesaid, with all the rights, profits, and emoluments to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining so long as you shall continue to behave yourself well, and to master of said preparatory school, you the said Oliver Kelly having first taken the oath of allegiance as by law required. In testimony whereof we have caused our archiepiscopal seal to be therefore affixed on this the aforesaid.
17th of October, A.D. 1800. William Tuam
Charles Davis
Not. Pub. D. Registrar.

The fact that this Licence was granted at all was probably due to the fact that Dr. Dillon and Dr. Beresford were very good friends. The latter was subsequently, in 1812, created Baron Decies. He died on the 18th September, 1819, after an Episcopal reign of twenty five years, and his memory is perpetuated by the stain glass windows which he presented to St. Mary's Cathedral.

The first College was opened in two thatched cottages which stood in the Mall near the site of the present cinema. These premises soon proved inadequate, however, and the house at Bishop Street which is now known as The Old College, was purchased in 1817. This house had been built by one John Bermingham and for a time it was known as Bermingham's Folly. The owner having gone bankrupt, it was sold in 1809 to John Browne of North Frederick Street, Dublin, and 1811 the Ffrenches of Castleffrench acquired it and opened a Bank there. (It may be of interest to some readers to learn that one of the directors was Denis Brown, notoriously remembered as 'The Hangman'). This bank carried on for several years but like many other commercial businesses throughout the British Isles, it was forced to close its doors in 1816 owing to the general slump in business which followed the ending of the Napoleonic Wars. The house was offered for sale, again, and with the help of contributions from all over the Diocese, the Archbishop acquired it for the College. In this connection it should be noted that Dr. Oliver Kelly, the first President of the College, had been appointed Vicar Capitular upon the death of Dr. Dillon in 1809 and in 1814 upon the return of Pope Pius VII from Fontainebleau, he had been appointed Archbishop.

In 1824, the facilities of the College were enlarged by the erection of additional houses in Bishop Street and in 1856 the site of the present college and grounds was bought by Archbishop McHale. This property was known as Keighrey's Park and a portion of it was used as the town Fair Green. Dr. McHale continued to let it as a Fair Green to the Town Commissioners at a yearly rent of £30 until 1875 in which year the college was extensively enlarged by the addition of two wings to the first building which had been erected in 1858.

Because of the impoverished state of the Catholic population of the Diocese, the financial resources of the College were very limited in its early days. Each Parish Priest in the Diocese contributed £2 per year towards its maintenance and upon these contributions, together with fees from lay boarders, the college had to exist. That it was able to do so was to a large extent due to the administrative ability of Fr. Thomas Feeney who was appointed President when the house at Bishop Street had been opened in 1818. Fr. Feeney was a native of Brossboyne and at the time of his appointment he could have been no more than thirty years of age. He continued as President until 1835 (when he was appointed Parish Priest of Kiltulla) and amongst the many brilliant students who passed through his hands during his term of office were Dr. McEvilly, Archbishop of Tuam; Dr. Derry, Bishop of Clonfert; Dr. O'Regan, Bishop of Chicago and Dr. Duggan Bishop of Killala in succession of Dr. O'Finan in 1839.

The following reference to the College appears in Duttons Survey which was prepared in 1823: "There is also in Tuam the College of St. Jarlath, for the education of Roman Catholics, under the superintendence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. Many young men are educated here for the priesthood and are sent to the College of Maynooth previous to their taking orders. I am well informed it is admirably conducted and every person who has been often to Tuam must bear testimony to the respectable appearance and remarkable property of behaviour of the students at such priests as are devoted to study".

The Roman Catholic Free School

It would appear from a reference in Pigot's Directory of 1824 that this school was founded in or about 1820. the original site is unknown but in 1826 the house at Old Ballygaddy Road which we now know as 'Prospect' was erected as a Free School at a cost of £600 which was subscribed locally. The following extract from The Tuam Herald of the 27th October, 1838, contains a certain amount of information about the institution:-

"Tuam Roman Catholic Free School (Late National). This school our readers are aware of was first established by the late Roman Catholic Archbishop, in the year 1826, and has since been efficiently supported by the contributions of the benevolent of this town and neighbourhood, until within the last few years when it, unhappily, came under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners of Education. Subscriptions were then generally, withdrawn, we cannot say whether it was that the public disapproved of the connection, or that they were under the impression that ample funds were provided by Parliament for the support of such institutions. It was to be expected that the Commissioners would entertain favourably any appeal on behalf of the establishment, from the circumstance of its having been founded and maintained for a number of years, solely by voluntary contributions and of a school house having been erected at an expenditure of upwards of £600, besides that it affords daily gratuitous instruction to upwards of 340 children for whose education three masters of considerable literary acquirements and of high moral and religious character are employed, yet, strange to say notwithstanding many applications, the Board have given only the small annual grant of £15. The Tuam Free School is no longer a National School, the Commissioners having accompanied the grant with conditions which could not be complied with, being incompatible with the directions of the Ordinary. The paltry sum of £15 has proved quite inadequate to the payment of rent, salaries, school requisites and incidental expenses and it is therefore the duty of the public and particularly the original subscribers to meet and co-operate to prevent this institution from failing, and to enable it to continue the blessings it affords by diffusing useful, moral, and religious instruction among the rising generation".

The same edition of the Tuam Herald published a copy of the lengthy letter from Dr. McHale to Lord John Russell, written from Achill Island and dated "The Feast of the Dedication of the Church of Ireland". In the course of this letter His Grace wrote: "Yet despite those resolutions, founded on the fairest principals of religion and of reason and published to the world, the National Board have, in the plenitude of their arbitrary authority, sent us a Protestant Inspector in a Diocese where scarcely any Protestants attend the schools. The master in Tuam, in Westport and in all the districts where my instructions reach them in time, refused him admittance. The Commissioners have since expended a good deal of stationary in insisting on the dismissal of those contumacious masters".

Franciscan School

At the invitation of Christopher Dillon Bellew, the Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order Regular founded a Monastery and school in Mountbellew in 1818. The first brothers were Bonaventure Lee and Michael Dillion and although they were sent by the Provincial of the Friars Minor it is not recorded from what house they came. It is believed, however, that they came from an establishment in the Dalkey locality. The rule observed by the Community was that of Pope Leo X and this had been adhered to since 1521. The Order was placed in a quandary upon the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act, of 1829, however, because of the fact that whilst the Act emancipated Bishops, clergy and laity, it contained certain penal clauses which were applicable to religious. For the same reason, Christopher Dillon Bellow, their Landlord, was placed in an awkward predicament. As a solution to the problem, it was decided to petition the Pope for permission to leave the jurisdiction of the Friars Minor and to attach to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Tuam. This permission was granted by His Holiness in a letter to Dr. Oliver Kelly dated the 13th September 1830.

Franciscan Monastery, Mountbellew

A photograph of Franciscan Monastery, Mountbellew; the photograph is part of the Cardall collection at Galway library.

In 1834, Dr. McHale was translated to the See of Tuam; and this event was to have an important bearing on education in the Archdiocese during the following fifty years. The system of National Education had been introduced by the Stanley Education Act of 1831, and during his life Dr. McHale opposed the workings of the Statute by every means in his power. This statute provided for a system of mixed education by means of grants to be expended by the Lord Lieutenant through the 'Commissioners of National Education' for the instruction of children irrespective of their religious denomination. The Archbishop considered it as just another step in the proselytising campaign of the Government and he referred to it as "a system in which Catholics and sectaries, truth and error, faith and heresy, were all huddled together in hideous confusion". (Letters of the Archbishop of Tuam, p. 536).

Part of his plan of opposition was to forestall the establishment of National Schools by committing education to Religious Orders wherever possible and in this he was ably assisted by the Brothers of the Third Order Regular, through their foundations in Tuam, Roundstone, Brooklodge, Clifden, Errew and Westport.

From the limited records available, I have been unable to fix definitely the date upon which the Brothers first came to Tuam. Battersby's Catholic Directory of 1836 refers to the school as being in existence in 1835 and the date could probably be safely fixed in the winter of 1834 or Spring of 1835. Battersby's Directory of 1839 which refers to institutions in existence the previous year, includes the following reference: "In the town of Tuam there is an affiliation of the Franciscan Order of Mountbellew which the Archbishop has highly recommended". The same Directory for 1849 refers to the fact that there were 400 pupils on rolls the previous year and that the Superior was Rev. Br. Lewis Alexander. This Directory refers to the establishment for the last time in its edition of 1851 and it may be presumed that the school closed down in 1850.

Slater's Commercial Directory of 1846 contains three references to his school. It states that "a community of Presentation Nuns and also of Franciscan Monks have establishments here". Later, it refers to a "boys Catholic school, taught by the friars of the monastery" and in a third reference it states that the monastery was situated at Ballygaddy Road, that the community consisted of three brothers and that Br. Lewis Alexander was prior.

From these references it is evident that the Order took over the free School at Prospect, and this is substantiated by the fact that the rate books of Tuam Union for 1842 referred to the premises as the Roman Catholic Free School.

I can find no record of the reason for the Order's departure from Tuam in 1850 and having regard to the fact that the school was in a flourishing condition two years previously, the abruptness of its termination is unexplainable.

The premises were taken over by the Irish Christian Brothers in 1851.

The Irish Christian Brothers School

by Jarlath A. O'Connell

An extract from the 'Galway Reader', Vol. 3. Nos. 1 and 2. 1950, Pages 82 - 88

The Irish Christian Brothers opened their School as Prospect in 1851, and within a short time the institution was flourishing. Unfortunately, the lease of the premises which they held from the Representative Church Body, expired on the 15th July 1859 and a renewal was refused. All negotiations having failed, the landlords took possession through their agent Mr. Strachan, and on the night of the eviction, a police guard was placed around the premises to prevent re-entry. A number of the pupils, however, succeeded in evading the police and on the same night they burned the premises to the ground. Several of them were subsequently prosecuted but the proceedings were quashed.

Christian Brothers' National School

A photograph of the Christian Brothers' National School; the photograph is part of the Cardall collection at Galway library.

On the 8th November, of the same year Dr. McHale procured a site for a new school at Dublin Road and a meeting of the towns-people was held to discuss the raising of funds for the erection of new premises. Rev. Fr. Eugene Coyne, Adm., was deputed to interview the Superior of the Order in Dublin and it was agreed that the Brothers should return to Tuam as soon as the new house was erected. Certain conditions were suggested for the approval of Dr. McHale who in turn, undertook to have the building plans prepared. A further meeting of the towns-people was held on the 15th November 1859, and the following resolution was unanimously adopted:-

Resolved that the best thanks of this meeting be tendered to his Grace for his magnificent donation of 60 a year towards the permanent support of the Christian Brothers who are to conduct the new schools, for which offer of the Archbishop we were fully prepared, not only by the liberality of His Grace on all former occasions but by the sacrifice he made in giving so ample a site for the schools for which he was in receipt of an annual sum of 25. And as the sum of 60 is not sufficient for the support of the Brothers, we the undersigned cheerfully bind ourselves to supply every and any deficiency and hereby pledge ourselves to procure more than the sum annually required, etc. etc. John Daly Patrick Sheridan, C.C. John Costelloe Thomas Bodkins John Munroe William Gannon John Moylan Martin H. Ownes Eugene Coyne, Adm. Michael Fahy J.J. Byrne Martin Cloran P.J. Burke Tim Geraghty Andrew Hosty Jas. Waldron C.C. William F. Kelly Joseph Kilgarriff M.J. Ryan Lawrence Mullin Patrick Kelly Charles Carr Patrick Bird Thomas Begley Dominick Gilmore H. McHugh Hugh Brennan Andrew Egan Martin O'Connor William Mulloy John Diran Edward Brady Francis Corbett Thomas Murphy Martin Egan Thomas Prendergast

The new school was built and in October 1861. Rev. Brother Lawrence Lowe, who had previously been Superior at Prospect, took up residence therein. On the 2nd November Rev. Brother Louis Devlin, the new Superior arrived with a lay Brother named Patrick Sheehy from North Richmond Street, Dublin. The Schools were formally opened on the 4th November 1861, and a large number of boys presented themselves for admission. By 1862 the number of pupils was so great that application was made for an extra Brother and on the 21st December Brother Austin Lysaght arrived from Youghal to take charge of the Junior School. On the 4th September of the same year, Br. Austin Kelly joined the Order at Tuam.

The Presentation Convent

William Burke, Esq., of Currylea died on 1834 and by his Will provided for the establishment and endowment of a Convent of the Presentation Order in Tuam. Dr. McHale entered into negotiations with the Presentation Community in Galway of which Mother Mary Power was the Superioress and the first nuns arrived in Tuam on the 9th May 1835. They were Sr. Mary De Sales Coppinger, Sr. Mary Ignatius Blake and Sr. Mary Louis Tighe. They were established in a house which stood near the site now occupied by the Schools at the Cathedral Road and on the morning after their arrival Mass was celebrated there for the first time. (There is now no trace of the original building, but during recent excavations at the Cathedral Road in connection with the new Water Scheme, the foundations came to light). On the same day the appointment of Sr. Mary De Sales Coppinger as first Superioress of the Community was confirmed by Dr. McHale.

Presentation Convent, Tuam

A photograph of the Presentation Convent, Tuam; the photograph is part of the Eason collection at Galway library.

Any account of this foundation would be incomplete without reference to Miss Anne Burke who was a daughter of Richard Burke of Quansberry, Co Galway, and a sister of Lady Howth. This good lady proved a valuable friend of the Order and her zeal to promote the interests of religion and to provide education for the Poor of Tuam was, to a large extent, responsible for the success which attended the new community.

Mother Mary De Sales Coppinger died on the 16th November 1835, and on November the 24th of the same year, she was succeeded as Superioress by Sr. Maria Browne who came from the Galway House to fill the office.

The first postulants to join the Order in Tuam were the Misses Jane and Mary McTucker of Sligo - called in religion Sisters Joseph and Teresa, respectively. The reception took place on the 16th July 1838, and the function was attended by many of the Catholic gentry of the country. Sr. Veronica Cunningham a lay sister, was sent from Galway on March 11th 1837, and of the original Community, this sister and Mother De Sales Coppinger are the only ones buried in Tuam, the others having returned to the Galway House.

The first premises used by the Order were small and very inadequate. The building of a suitable Convent was delayed, however, owing to legal difficulties in connection with the Will of William Burke and it was not until July, 1848, that the foundation stone of the present Convent was laid by Rev. Thomas McHale. The building was completed on September 8th 1849. The present schools were built in 1852 and Dr. McHale contributed largely to their erection.

The Foundation at Tuam was the first community of female religious to be established in the diocese since the Penal times. By inviting the nuns to open their school Dr. McHale hoped to defeat all possibility of the National System of Education being introduction into the town. Throughout his life he succeeded in his aim and it was not until 1882, during the Episcopacy of Dr. McEvilly, that the Presentation Schools were placed under the National Board. Subsequently, Branch Houses were opened at Headford (November 1906), Athenry (Jan. 1908), Keel (June 1919) and Tiernee (August 1935) and at the moment a group of Sisters are about to set out to take over a new Foundation in New Zealand.

Convent of Mercy

At the request of Dr. McHale, the Sisters of Mercy opened a Convent in Tuam in 1846. The first sisters to arrive on January 2nd were Mother Mary Alphonsus Ryan (first Superioress of the Tuam Foundation), Sr. Mary Clare Maher, and Sr. Mary Magdalen Maher who was then a postulant. They came from the Carlow House of the Order and they were accompanied by Mother Ceilia Maher, Superioress at Carlow, and by Sr. Mary Josephine Cullen and Sr. Mary Angela Johnson who remained for a time to assist in the establishment of the Convent.

Mercy Convent, Tuam

A photograph of the Mercy Convent, Tuam; the photograph is part of the Eason collection at Galway library.

A House of Mercy was immediately opened as a step towards the alleviation of the distress then prevailing in the town and district. Girls of impoverished families were cared for in this Institution and were employed at laundry-work and needle-work.

A Boarding School for young ladies was also opened at about the same time but the nuns could not afford to devote much time towards its development until the Famine had ceased. During this awful period, the Sisters worked unceasingly to help the starving populace and they are said to have played a heroic part in the nursing of the afflicted during the cholera epidemic of 1847.

The Famine conditions continued until 1851 and from then onwards, the Order concentrated on developing the schools. The present House of Mercy was erected in 1861 and in 1866 a weaving room was added.

The Lay Schools

In addition to the schools by religious orders, there were several private lay schools in the town, some of which survived until the second half of the century. In this connection the following advertisement which appeared in The Tuam Herald, on 20th May 1837, is worthy of note:-

"Classical, English, French, Mercantile, Mathematics and Writing Academy".

Messrs. J. E. O'Cavanagh and J. McNamara beg leave to inform the gentry of Tuam and its vicinity that they will open this academy on Monday the 22nd inst.

Aware that exaggerated professions and boasted advantages are seldom if ever realised, they only say in the confidence of many years experience and habitual unremitting assiduity, they confidently calculate on meriting and retaining Public support.

Terms Per Quarter

Entire Course15/-Entrance Money10/-
Classics12/6Entrance Money10/-
English Course7/6Entrance Money5/-

Pigot' Directory of 1824 refers to two Academies, that of Charles O'Callaghan at the Mall and Beech Sandford's at Dublin Road.

Slater's Directory of 1846 mentions an Infant School at the Mall which was run by one Mary Copley. The same Directory refers to Patrick O'Carroll's school at Bishop Street.

Slater's Directory of 1856 lists a school at Chapel Lane, the master of which was one David MacMahon. In the interval between the burning of Prospect and the opening of the Christian Brother's new school at Dublin Road, many of the local boys attended this establishment. According to a relative of mine who had been a pupil there, the school was held in the kitchen of a thatched house in Chapel Lane. The boys sat around on stools or on the floor whilst McMahon presided from a chair beside the fire. His peculiar form of doodling was to make wooden tops whilst he taught and which he presented to the scholars from time to time.

In July 1838, another Master named McAllister published the following advertisement in The Tuam Herald:-

Classical and Mathematical Academy

Mr. McAllister
Respectively apprises the Gentlemen of Tuam and its vicinity that he has under the patronage of several respectable individuals opened this Academy on the 26th of April, 1836, in a Commodious and Splendid apartment, adjacent to the Mall, where he continues to teach a select class of boys, the course of Greek and Latin Classics requisite for admission in any University. In this Seminary will be also taught English, Grammar, History, Writing, Arithmetic, Geometry, Mensuration, Bookkeeping, Algebra, Geography, Use of Globes etc.

Mr McAllister to avoid the imputation of egotism, presumes only to say that he hopes he will by his diligence and unremitting attention afford general satisfaction, and expeditiously qualify young gentlemen for their prior classes.

Terms Per Quarter

Entire Course15/-Entrance Money10/-
Classics12/6Entrance Money10/-
English Course8/Entrance Money5/-

Of the lay schools, the one run by the Misses Julia and Biddy Gannon at Circular Road was the most successful. Miss Julia Gannon was born in 1803 and Miss Biddy was born in 1805. Their father carried on a chandlery at Vicar Street but the business declined and eventually the two girls decided to seek a living by opening a private school at Circular Road. Fortunately there are some ex-pupils of this school still living and it is possible to give an accurate description of it. The premises consisted of a thatched cottage with a low wall in front, which stood on the Vicar Street side of the Post Office. The Misses Gannon lived in this house and usually a few resident pupils were boarded in a dormitory in the loft. The actual school was situated in the yard at the rear and this consisted of a one roomed slated building with a porch attached.

It was, of course, a girl's school but boys up to the age of seven were also accepted. During the whole period of the school's existence the same books were used for the various subjects taught. Even the subject of political geography was treated in this conservative fashion. Thompson's Geography had been chosen as a suitable text book when the school was opened and it was still in use when the establishment closed in the Eighties. The fact that, in the meantime, many States had vanished from the political scene, mattered not at all; they still survived between the covers of Thompson's and their sovereignty continued to be recognised in Circular Road. The teaching staff consisted of the Misses Gannon, themselves, and one of the senior pupils from the Christian Brothers' School who came in at two o'clock each day to teach arithmetic. This boy received a small salary and was referred to as 'the figurist'. The last gentleman to hold the post was Mr. James Gallagher who afterwards became Secretary to Messrs. Dwyer & Co. of Cork.

The most important annual event in the life of the School was the May Day Festival. A King and Queen were selected for the occasion and on the great day, the whole school - and most of the town's people proceeded to the King's house. The king was put into a small phaeton drawn by "Peacock", the Misses Gannon's donkey and the procession then proceeded to the Queen's House. Her majesty having been collected and ensconced in the phaeton beside the King, they were drawn in state through the town. Miss Julia leading and sometimes appealing to Peacock to behave himself. Upon arrival at the school their Majesties were enthroned on a dais and the festivities began. Having feasted, all the pupils were treated to presents which hung upon a May bush which stood in the centre of the room.

This school flourished for many years and it was only upon the death of Miss Julia Gannon in the Eighties that it closed down. There is now no trace of the building.

The Misses Gannon were sisters of William Gannon (known locally as 'Minor Gannon') who was a prominent member of the Tuam Town Commissioners for many years. They lived in difficult times but they appear to have been ladies who were well able to take care of themselves and their pupils, judging by the following extract from The Tuam Herald of the 14th April 1849. Having referred to various robberies in the town the report continues: "A few nights since, one of those fellows attempted an entrance into the residence of Miss Gannon on the Circular Road through a window but speedily decamped - her sister having, with great presence of mind, snapped a pistol at him".

Teaching does not appear to have been a very lucrative profession in the last century, as would appear from the following advertisement.

Tuam Union
The Board of Guardians of the above Union will, at their meeting on Wednesday the 3rd May, proceed to the Election of a person competent to fill the situation of schoolmaster in the Workhouse Schools, which are under the superintendance of the National Board of Education. The persons applying must be competent to teach in accordance with that system. The Salary (which is not to exceed £25 per annum with apartments, rations and fuel) to be fixed on the day of the appointment.

Sealed Tenders Endorsed "Tenders for the Office of School-- master" containing the names of two Sureties willing to join in a joint Bond for £50, together with testimonials as to character and competency will be received by me up to the taking of the Chair on the above day.

(By Order)
F. S. Figgis
Tuam Workhouse
Office, Clerk of Union-.

April 29th, 1854.

The lucky applicant for this post was one William Partlan of Carrickmacross.

I have found it extremely difficult to trace details of the several Protestant schools which existed in Tuam during the last century. The Diocesan School at the Grove was the most important but no records concerning it appear to have survived. A reference to it in Sirr's Memoirs of Dr. Le Poer Trench indicate that it existed in 1820, but when or by whom it was founded is not stated. The only other reference which I have been able to trace is the following extract from The Tuam Herald :

Died in this town, on the 3rd October, 1855, the Rev. J. C. Thynne, Protestant Minister and Master of the Tuam Diocesan School for several years.

There are still some local residents who remember this school but, apart from the fact that it closed some time in the Eighties and that Rev. Dr. Murphy was Headmaster for many years, there is little further authoritive information available.

Tuam Protestant Free School was founded by Dr. Le Poer Trench (the last Protestant Archbishop of Tuam) in 1823 and it was jointly supported by His Grace and the Dublin Bible Society (Pigot 1824). Writing of its establishment, Sirr states :

On his grace's arrival in Tuam he found there no effective free school established, nor was there any building existing in which it could conveniently be carried on. He at once determined on building school-house, and accordingly, a site being secured after some little delay, there arose a neat and graceful structure opposite the Palace, at an expense exceeding £200, containing two commodious school-rooms, with private apartments for the master and mistress.

Slater's Directory of 1864 refers to Edward and Maria Lawler as Master and Mistress and the Directory of 1865 lists George and Maria McDonald as holding these posts. The latter refers to the establishment as "Bishop Plunkett's Free School".

This edifice is now the drapery shop of Mr. James Cummins. There was a London Hibernian Society School situated at Galway Road. According to the first report of the Commissioners of Irish Education, 1825, "this Society originated with some individuals who associate in London in the year 1806, for the purpose of diffusing religious knowledge in Ireland.". They proposed "by the ministry of the Gospel, by the Dispersion of the Holy Scriptures and religious tracts, by the Formation and support of Schools, and by every other lawful and prudent Measure calculated to promote pure Religion, Morality and Loyalty. "