Lack School - 1863 to 1975

A History of the School and its Pupils
by James Hehir


4. The Old School 1854 to 1890

(c) Extraordinary growth : 1870 to 1890

While the school had a slow beginning, all was to change as the 1870's approached. Education had come into fashion and it appears that all youth now registered for school. The explosion in registrations is illustrated in the following graph:

Annual Registrations 1870 - 1890

Number of Pupils Annual Registrations 1870 - 1890

The year 1874, when 60 children registered, was to be a record never again to be seen in the life of the school. Registrations were to average about 17 per annum throughout the 1880s and fell slightly to 14 in the 1890s.
While pupils were generally in the 4 to 6 age group at registration, the 1870s were an exception with many pupils 7 to 12 years of age and a small number well into their teens. The highest entry age was 18.
As the registrations increased, the potential number attending school soared. The potential attendance assumes all pupils between the ages of 6 and 13 attended school while the older students at registration remained at school for 7 years. The potential attendance per day would have grown from 40 in 1870 to 213 in 1874 and go on rising until it peaked at 290 in 1878. It then declined rapidly to settle in the 115/120 range in the 1890s.

Maximum Attendance 1870 - 1890

Number of Pupils Maximum Attendance 1870 - 1890

There is no doubt but that actual attendance bears no relationship to these figures. Fr. Meade in his letter of the 2nd May 1888 states that attendance averaged about 50, most of them in the lower classes. A return for the year 1890 also gives average attendance at about this level. In any event the school which consisted of a single room measuring 500 sq. feet could only accommodate perhaps 50 pupils.