- An image of what a Hedge school might
have looked like.
Hedge Schools or Pay Schools of Rathvilly Parish
THE PAROCHIAL Registers of Rathvilly Parish contain records in the
handwriting of Rev. John Gahan, P.P., dated 1827 and 1829. These records
contain particulars regarding the population both of Catholics and
Protestants, the churches and the schools. As the National Education Act
did not come into operation until 1829. The schools mentioned in these
returns must be classed as Hedge Schools or Pay Schools. In the return
for the year 1827, under the heading of "Attendance at Parochial School"
(no endowment for any) the following particulars are given:
- Rathvilly, Boys 209. Rathvilly, Girls 170.
- Tineclash, Boys 86. Girls 58.
- Knocklishen, Small Children, 40.
- Maplestown, Small Children ,30.
- Ballyhackett, Small Children, 70.
On the 17th January, 1829, Most Rev. Dr. Doyle (J.K.L.) wrote
requiring information regarding the number of chapels in each parish,
with their names, and "whether a public school-house be attached to
it, and when built."
In his reply to this letter Fr, Gahan replied that there was
public school-house in Rathvilly." He stated that Kiltegan (Tynock)
Church had been newly built in the years 1826-27. The former chapel (Tyneclash)
is attached to this church as a public school-house, these two years
There was no public school-house attached to Englishtown Church. In a
note inserted later he states: "In 1841 a new chapel was built in
Talbotstown in place of the old one. (at Englishtown) and schools etc.
attached. About 1000 children are in course of education" (in the
- Possibly an image of one of the last Hedge
School's found in Ireland?
- Courtesy of the
National Library of Ireland
In the Rathvilly St Patricks graveyard there is a well worn stone
Erected by William D'Arcy in memory of his father Thomas D'arcy -
Knocklishen. Died Janr 1882 aged 82. And his mother Catherine D'Arcy
died 5th March 1896. Seven Children Including a Vincentian Priest
and three Presentation Nuns mourn the loss of the above their
beloved parents "He was a true and faithful friend in life and died
a happy death May the Lord Have Mercy On Their Souls"
Edward D'arcy ( Darcy) was the teacher at the Knocklishen Hedge
School, he was then succeeded by his son Michael- and Knockishen was
to become the last Hedge School in Rathvilly Parish as later it
became a National School. Thomas and Catherine D'Arcy nee ?
continued at the National School as teachers, along with the main
subjects, the gave tuition in Music - they had a family of 7
children, their eldest son was William Edward born? died? who in
1878 was organist at the Carlow Cathedral, and in the same year
aided by his sister Helen he organised a concert which was held at
the Rathvilly Boys School. Helen went on to be a presentation
Nun. Of the 7 children three were girls and all entered the
Presentation Order in Lucan. Elizabeth, born 1850, entered the
Order in 1868 going on to become Mother Stanislaus D'Arcy, Foundress
of the Presentation Order in Lismore, Australia. Unfortunately all
the records of Elizabeth background had been destroyed in Australia
so help was asked for and received from the Rev Mothers' in Lucan
and Lismore Cameto Rathvilly.
Source: Cara c2008
RATHVILLY SCHOOL The tradition is that the school here was
held in the old chapel which had been built in the year 1785. Referring
to this building Lewis (1837) stated that "it was a large old seated
building in which a National School is held." Who the teacher of this
school was, I have never heard, but it may have been a man named Lyons,
who was called "the Latin Master", and who was the first principal of
the National School, which was built by Father Gahan in 1834.
KNOCKLISHEN SCHOOL This was a real Hedge School and was taught
by a man named Edward Darcey. In wet weather or in the Winter, the
children were taught in Darcey’s dwelling house but in the Summer or in
fine weather they were taught in the open. A double fence separating the
townslands of Knocklishen and Williamstown ran opposite the door of the
dwelling house, and the pupils used to write their copies and "do their
sums" on this fence so that it became quite flat and smooth. Mr. Robert
Browne, (Knocklishen), Knockavagh informs me that his father, Mr. Peter
Browne attended this school. Lewis states that there was a National
School in Knocklishen in 1837. Edward Darcey was succeeded by his son
Thomas Darcey, who, in his turn was succeeded by his son Michael who
emigrated to Australia in the early 80's.
MAPLESTOWN This school "for small children" was conducted by a
man named Thomas White. A remarkable coincidence is that the hearthstone
of the old school house is the hearthstone of the cottage occupied by
Thomas White of Maplestown, a grandson of the former schoolmaster.
BALLYHACKETT The house in which this school was conducted is
still standing but uninhabited. It is situated on the road from
Rathvilly to Carlow, about 200 yds, from Ballyhackett Cross Roads. The
school was conducted by Patrick Keating, whose grand-children still live
in Ballyhackett. The descendants of many of the pupils who attended this
school are residents of Ballyhackett neighbourhood at the present time.
KNOCKBOY (THE ALLEY) In a part of the townland of Knockboy
called The Alley, which was formerly very thickly populated, a school
was carried on by a man named James Kehoe. He was called "The Master
Kehoe" and some of his descendants are still living in Knockboy. It was
said that he wrote the Lord's Prayer on a piece of paper which could
have been covered by a sixpence. I have a hazy recollection of having
seen this curio.
There was a purposely built school on the Lisnavagh Estate. This was the
estate school and was probably for the Protestant children of the estate
while the Catholic children were down at Tobinstown (and before that
presumably at Delany's school by Acaun). No records of the school or for
the school have been found as yet. - Turtle Bunbury.
Cross Roads About half a mile to the north of Tobinstown Cross
Roads, at the foot of "Germaines Hill" on the
road to Rathvilly, a
school was conducted by Denis Delany. The place is still called
"Delany's Farm" or "Denny's Twin." Delany was a low-sized man with
rather flat feet and he was called "Dinny Heels". When the National
Schools were established, his occupation was gone, and he used to drive
round in a donkey's trap to teach the children in their homes. Many of
the old people up to 50 years ago, remembered him very well, but now
"The very spot where many a time he triumphed is forgot"
In Dr. Doyle's return for 1829 under the heading, "School Houses when
built" we find the following:—
- Rathvilly: To be built.
- Kiltegan: Built lately.
- Englishtown: No school-house.
KNOCKLISHEN HEDGE SCHOOL There are many memories and actual
facts still existing amongst the older residents of Rathvilly Parish
associated with this particular Hedge School. The teacher was Edward
D'Arcy. He was succeeded by his son Thomas D'Arcy. Thomas was succeeded
by his son Michael D'Arcy.
In St. Patrick's Cemetery, Rathvilly there is a very worn Headstone
commemorating the D'Arcy Family, Knocklishen, Rathvilly. The
Inscription, which is barely legible, reads:
- By William D'Arcy
- in memory of his Father
- Thomas D'Arcy, Knocklishen
- died Janr 6th 1882, aged 82
- And his mother,
- Catherine D'Arcy,
- died 5th March, 1896
- Seven children including
- a Vincentian Priest and three
- Presentation Nuns mourn
- the loss of the above
- their beloved parents.
- He was a true and faithful friend
- in life and died a happy death
- May the Lord have mercy on their souls
This Thomas D'Arcy mentioned above was son of Edward D'Arcy, the
last Hedge School Teacher in Rathvilly Parish. This school,
Knocklishen, later became a National School. Thomas and his wife
Catherine continued as Teachers. They were both brilliant Teachers
.Together with the main subjects they gave tuitions in Music to the
countryside. They had a family of seven children, four boys and
three girls, all equally musical and brilliant. Their eldest son,
William Edward was Organist in Carlow Cathedral in 1878 and
Professor of Music in Carlow College. He organised a Concert which
was held in Rathvilly Boys School in this year, assisted by his
sister Helen, teacher in Knocklishen, later a Presentation Nun.
- The second boy Tom was a Vincentian Priest and ministered in
Australia (Recoil. E. O'Toole).
- Michael taught in Knocklishen. He and his two brothers also went
- The three daughters entered the Presentation Order in Lucan.
Elizabeth, the eldest girl, born 1850, entered the Order in 1868.
- Her sisters followed in her footsteps. Elizabeth later, became
Mother Stanislaus D'Arcy. Foundress of the Presentation Order in
- Last year the Centenary of this Convent was about to be
celebrated. Through some tragic accident all records of the
background of this great Nun had been destroyed. Enquiries from Rev.
Mothers in Lucan and Lismore came to Rathvilly. They were very
gratified to find that so much authentic information was still
- This Headstone worn with age and wreaths is not alone a Memorial
to this great D'Arcy Family, but also to the Standard of Education
and Culture achieved in these little wayside country schools in the
Source: This article originally appeared on p.38 of
the 1972 edition of the Carloviana.