Going to School (Street)

School St near Thomas St probably sees more tourists than you’d expect. It’s now a short stretch of nondescript buildings that many visitors to the city wander by on their way to the entrance to the Guinness brewery just beyond. But the street was home to a significant part of our education history. George Newenham Wright, a man Wicklow people know well, tells us in his Historical Guide to Ancient and Modern Dublin (1821) that on March 7th, 1808, a school was opened on this site. The school was funded by Guinness, La Touche and Bewley families, all of whom would soon establish the Kildare Place Society in 1811 (See post: An Education at Kildare Place)

There was substantial demand for the school. A Sunday School had opened in St Catherine’s Parish on Love Lane (Donore Avenue) in 1786, supposedly the first in Ireland. To attend the school, prospective pupils only needed a recommendation from a housekeeper (who these mysterious gate keepers were is unclear) and numbers quickly swelled. While Sunday Schools came with obvious religious overtones, they taught pupils how to read and write. Parents didn’t mind too much what the words were, more that their children were able to read them. If there is one thing most commentators agree on with regards to our early education history, it is that the Irish had a great anxiety for education. Such was the demand that the accommodation being used (the parish house for girls and the court house for boys) was unsuitable, and subscriptions were raised among the parish, and predominantly Quakers in the parish, for a school house. Once matching funding was obtained, it is likely that Guinness et al stepped in and the school house was built. Wright describes the building:

This building, which is of brick, is 156 feet in length and 37 in depth; the two upper floors are occupied by the schools, four in number, two for the boys and two for the girls; the children of each sex are quite distinct and the entrances for each are at different extremities of the building. In the centre of the building and between the male and female schools are the committee room and master’s apartments, the room of the supervisor of all the schools is so circumstanced that he can command a perfect view of all the four schools by standing up and sitting down successively.

School on School St Pimlico is to the bottom right and the Guinness Brewery entrance is to the left

School on School St (OSi) Pimlico is to the bottom right and the Guinness Brewery entrance is to the left.

The building was thus quite substantial, and as can be seen from the OSi map of the late nineteenth century, the school was about half the length of the street. In 1820 when Wright visited, 840 pupils were on the rolls. Girls usually completed some sewing work which was used as a source of income for the school.

Lancaster Monitorial System

Lancaster Monitorial System

Pupils were educated by the Lancaster system. This involved the master having a large class, which was sub-divided among a series of monitors. These were older children who had proved their merit, and who in turn taught groups of children in the class. The method meant that a large number of children could be educated with payment required just for the master and some allowances for monitors. Monitors usually became masters and mistresses.

At its peak, the school had 1000 pupils on the roll, and employed nine teachers. The masters were paid 2/6  per week, while the mistresses were paid 2/ per week. The school closed in the 1920s (Wilson Power, 1998) and was evidently demolished some time after that.

School Street (Google Streetview)

School Street (Google Streetview). The original school was on the right hand side of the road.

Notes

  • Irene Wilson Power (1998) To School in the City, Dublin Historical Record, 51(2), 141-158.
  • G.N. Wright (1820) An Historical Guide to Ancient and Modern Dublin. 
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Glib Market, Thomas St

Glib Market, Thomas St

Glib Market, Thomas St (Rocque, 1756)

On Rocque’s map, 1756, there is a substantial curb-side marking on Thomas St with the label “Glib Market.” It lay just east of the entrance to St Catherine’s Church in the direction of Meath St. The name “Glib” comes from an ancient watercourse; the Glib River (Brooke-Tyrell, 1983). While it was originally thought that this was laid out in 1670, it was later found to be much earlier. A Trinity College deed from 1349 makes reference to Pype Lane, at the back of Thomas St and a 1426 deed mentions a lane “through which the water of the pipe of Dublin runs.” Whatever the origins, in 1696, an order was made to provide costs to cover and pave over the Glib, and in 1709, a proposal was mooted to establish a Hide Market at “the back of the Glib Water in Thomas Street.” (Jackson, 1950, who covers the Glib watercourse in glorious detail).

Perhaps this Hide Market is the origin of our Glib Market, obviously well established by the time Rocque wandered by in the 1750s. Brooke-Tyrell reports some interesting anecdotes. A meeting of Herring Sellers from the market was held 1781 so that they could air their concerns about the crowds standing about, with no intention of buying herrings, but just to listen to ballad singers. The sellers felt that these cads should be made to walk on the opposite side of the road; enforced by the Lord Mayor’s men if necessary. Standing around listening to ballad singers was clearly part of the social scene of the time. Local schoolmaster Dr. William Gahan wrote in the rules for his new school in 1777:

The children are never to assemble together in the streets, either going to, or returning from school: never to join any riotous meetings, or to stand listening to ballad singers or swearers (from Brooke-Tyrell, 1983).

What was Frawleys, and (site of?) Glib Bank

What was Frawleys, and (site of?) Glib Bank (Google Maps)

Glib was also the source of a name of a bank on the street (Archiseek Forum). A will of 1747 left money to two clerks of the bank; Abraham Fuller and John Bell (£100 each – what loot!). The bank was located in what is now, or what was, Frawley’s Department Store.

Next time you stop to buy your toilet rolls and washing powder, you’re at a market that is 0ver 300 years old…

Notes

  • To keep up to date with Thomas St life, architecture and culture see the community group pages on Facebook and Twitter
  • Val. Jackson (1950) The Glib Water and Colman’s Brook, Dublin Historical Record, 11(1), 17-28.
  • Alma Brooke-Tyrrell (1983), Focus on Thomas Street, Dublin Historical Record, 36(3), 107-117.
  • Archiseek Forum on Glib bank at Thomas St.