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Tiermaclane National School
 

Tiermaclane National School: 1864-1888 by Aoife de Buitléir

Tiermaclane National School Registers 1865-1888

Introduction
The townland of Tiermaclane, Co. Clare, lies about 6 kilometres south-west of Ennis in the parish of Killone. Weir (1986) calls it Tír Mac Leighin, translating this as the Scholar’s Land. Other sources call it Tír Mhic Calláin, translating this as Mac Lain’s District (O’Donovan, 1839), the Scholar’s Land (Frost, 1906), or Mac Callan’s Country (Mills, 2003). A national school – Tiermaclane N.S., roll number 8373 – existed here for approximately 24 years in the mid-1800s.

Background
The first reference to schooling in Tiermaclane appears in the reports of the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry in the 1820s. Prior to this, the lack of education for poor Catholics was probably due to the Penal Laws, while richer Catholics, such as the Woulfes of Tiermaclane, sent their children to the continent to be educated. (Power, 2004. p.271).

The Education Inquiry Report 1824 lists two hedge schools in Tiermaclane:
1. John Casey ran a school in a stone-walled thatched house, attended by 40 Catholics – 26 males and 14 females.
2. Michael Couney held a school for 38 Catholics – 22 males and 16 females in the chapel.

In the 1830s, two local landlords established schools for poor families. Colonel Burton converted a cow-house into a school at Buncraggy, while John McDonnell, Esq., of Newhall built a new school for the children of Killone (Power, 1987, p. 20).
Location of Newhall school on 1842 OS map

The Stanley Education Act of 1831 established the national school system in Ireland. John McDonnell consented to let his Newhall school become part of that system, and the Commissioners of National Education accepted it. From April 1838, they paid the teacher’s salary, and supplied furniture and books (Power, 2004, p.279). The Parliamentary Gazeteer of Ireland, 1845, reported that in 1840 there was a national school at Newhall, salaried with £12, with 75 boys and 46 girls attending.

This Newhall school relocated to the chapel at Ballyea crossroads around 1860. As Tiermaclane N.S. was located at the cross of Ballyea, and its rollbook begins in 1864, it would suggest that this original Newhall school evolved into Tiermaclane N.S. In a personal conversation (11/10/2009), local historian Dr. Joseph Power agreed with this assumption. Tiermaclane N.S. remained in operation here until 1887/ 1888 when it was incorporated into a school newly-built beside the chapel – Ballyea N.S., – which still exists today (2010).

Tiermaclane National School
Examination of the Tiermaclane registers provides a picture of the life and times of its students. The earliest enrolment took place in May, 1864 when Mary Sexton, aged 7, from Tiermaclane signed up. Her father was a farmer and she had not previously been at National School. The female register shows only two enrolments that year. There were only two enrolments the following year, 1865, one in April and one in September, while 1866 saw only one female enrolment. The largest yearly intake was in 1883, when 27 girls enrolled. Altogether 311 girls enrolled in Tiermaclane N.S. over the years, their ages ranging from 4 to 15 years.

The first male enrolment took place in 1865, on May 23rd, when William Reidy, aged 6, son of a widow from Tiermaclane, registered. There were just two male enrolments that year, and only one the following year. The largest male intake occurred in 1872, when 22 boys enrolled. A total of 280 boys enrolled during the school’s lifespan, and their ages ranged from 4 to 17 years.

Generally speaking there were many more boys than girls in Irish education before the famine, but after 1850 they got the same educational opportunity, at least in the Killone area (Power, 2004, p.282). According to the figures above, Tiermaclane N.S. actually educated more girls than boys.

Students came from all the surrounding townlands - Ballyea, Ballymacooda, Ballyvolligan, Barloughra, Bearnageeha, Buncraggy, Darragh, Dromadrehid, Drummeen, Drumquin, Edenvale, Hempfield, Islandavanna, Kilglassy, Killerk, Kilmorane, Kilmore, Knockanira, Lackanaskagh, Lisheen, Lismaelbrida, Newhall, Raphae, Rathmeehan, Reghfa, Shanacool and Tiermaclane.

There were also transfers into Tiermaclane N.S. from no less than 36 other schools during its fourteen years existence. These included:

School
Boys Transferring
Girls Transferring
Ballynacally
4
3
Barefield
1
0
CBS Ennis
5
0
CBS Limerick
1
0
Clare Castle
20
3
Clohanbeg
2
3
Clonmoney
1
1
Cragbrien
1
0
Cranny
0
1
Dangan
1
0
Diocesan College, Ennis
1
0
Doora
1
2
Ennis Convent
0
4
Ennis Union
1
0
Fergus View
4
4
Foynes, Co. Limerick
1
0
Inch
7
5
Kells, Co. Clare
0
1
Kilkee
1
0
Kilkee Convent
0
1
Killadysert
0
2
Killerk
32
35
Kilmaley
2
0
Limerick Model
0
2
Liscannor
0
2
Lisroe
1
0
Listowel, Co. Kerry
1
0
Miltown
1
0
Mullagh
0
2
Newmarket
0
2
Portlaw, Co. Waterford
2
2
Ruan
1
0
Shannon view
1
2
Toonagh
0
1
Tralee, Co. Kerry
0
1
Tubber
1
1

James Hehir, author of Lack N.S.: A History of the School and Its Pupils suggests that

“…some of the transfers may be due to the fact that it was common practice for children to live with elderly relatives … and it was common for children to be adopted in the area.”

Occupations of the parents of Tiermaclane N.S. pupils ranged from those typical of rural life to those associated with employment in the great houses and demesnes of the area. They included caretaker, carpenter, coachman, constabulary, dealer, engine driver, farmer, gamekeeper, ganger, gardener, gauger, gentleman farmer, herdsman, labourer, pensioner, shoemaker, shopkeeper, sub-contractor in the slobworks, smith, steward, teacher, timekeeper, and umbrella-maker. Some of these related to the huge land reclamation project which took place nearby at Islandavanna on the river Fergus in the 1880s. (Spellissy and O’Brien, 1987, p.46). Up to seven hundred men were employed there during the summer months, most likely including the gangers, timekeeper and sub-contractor listed above.

The entry for my great-great-grandfather appears on page 21 – Patrick Mahon, aged 10, son of a shoemaker from Killerk, transferred from Killerk school in April 1872. This is the only official record of his existence as a child, as my family has been unable to locate any birth or baptism records for him. He was one of fifteen children of John Mahon (a shoemaker by trade in the 1870s according to the register but described in Guy’s Directory, 1893, as a shopkeeper and bootmaker) and his wife Ellen Curry. Patrick’s siblings Kate, Mary, Bridget, Ellen, Thomas and Michael also appear in the Tiermaclane N.S. registers. The family was unusual in that all fifteen children lived, with all but three emigrating to America. Two of those three – Michael and Ellen – are buried in the graveyard at Ballyea church. The remaining person, my ancestor Patrick Mahon, having begun life as one of fifteen children of a poor shoemaker, ended his days in relative prosperity as the station-master in Mallow, Co. Cork. He is buried in St. Gobnait’s cemetery there with his wife and son.

Aoife de Buitléir, August 2010

References:

Frost, James (1906) County of Clare: Irish Local Names Explained
Retrieved October 12, 2009.

Hehir, James (2004) Lack N.S.: A History of the School and Its Pupils
Retrieved 15.10.2009

Mills, A.D. (2003) A Dictionary of British Place-Names, Oxford University Press, 2003.
Retrieved October 13, 2009.

O’Donovan, John (1839) Ordnance Survey Field Name Books.
Retrieved October 12, 2009.

Power, Joseph (1987) A History of Clare Abbey and Killone Published privately.

Power, Joseph (2004) A History of Clare Castle and Its Environs. J. Power, Ennis.

Spellissy, S.& O’Brien, J. (1987) Clare: County of Contrasts Published privately.

Weir, Hugh (1986) Historical, genealogical, architectural notes on some houses of
Clare
, Whitegate, Co. Clare : Ballinakella, 1986

 

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