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Title: Rule etonia : educating the Irish Catholic elite 1850-1900
Author: O'Neill, Ciaran
ISNI:       0000 0004 2713 8464
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2010
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In the nineteenth century the most prestigious education available to any Irish boy or girl, regardless of denomination, was to be found outside of Ireland. For Irish Catholic families, the most controversial choice was to have their children educated in English Catholic co lIeges. Episodic newspaper debates on the matter highlighted a certain hostility and schadenfreude toward families that chose to send their boys away from Ireland for their education.' In 1881 an Irish Jesuit, William Hayden S.J., argued in a series of letters to the Freeman's Journal that Irish alternatives were to be preferred to an English Catholic schooling, as at English institutions Irish boys were vulnerable to ridicule and an 'atmosphere of contempt' when placed in a minority. Such treatment, Hayden argued, would offset any advantage they may have gained with a correction of their accent. Several high-profile Catholics joined Hayden in his condemnation of the practice. Dr Francis Cruise (Belvedere: 1845, Clongowes: 1848) admitted that his parents had considered sending him to England, but had opted for the Irish Jesuits instead. 'How different must have been my prospects,' he argued, 'if I had arrived from England a stranger, to fight my way among strangers!" Less than a decade later his son, Edward Cruise, enrolled at Downside College, near Bath, for the 1889 school year - demonstrating a certain elasticity of principle within the Irish Catholic elite. An English influence was also to be found at the most prestigious Irish Catholic schools throughout the nineteenth century. Pupils at schools such as Clongowes, Blackrock, Tullabeg and Castleknock could expect a genteel education with an emphasis on social grace and the formation of gentlemanly habit deliberately modelled on that available at English public schools. An early prospectus at Tullabeg advertised a classical education combined with the usual adjuncts of an 'English mercantile education,' and Blackrock College promised a 'sound English education' in its promotional literature." These establishments were the most successful and prominent Catholic schools in Ireland 1850-1900. The main preoccupation of this thesis will be to examine the motivations of the families that chose to send their boys to elite Catholic schools in either England or Ireland during this period, and to demonstrate that their faith in the value of that education was commensurate with the benefits derived from it. An education in England or northern Europe was not uncommon amongst Irish Catholics from landed and wealthy backgrounds in the nineteenth century. In fact the tradition was a long established one and had originally developed in response to a lack of domestic choice for reasonably wealthy families in the matter of a high-quality education for their sons and daughters. Irish priests had been educated at the various Irish colleges on the continent throughout the post-reformation era. Forced to look outside of their own country to isolated seminaries and Catholic colleges on the continent, the Irish, Scottish and English Catholic elites had built up a tradition of boarding their adolescent sons abroad as early as the I590s.5 The French Revolution and resulting decades of turbulence in northern Europe forced many of the schools to return to England in a process that was facilitated by the relaxation of the penal laws in 1793. The greater religious tolerance also allowed fee-paying Catholic boarding schools such as Clongowes Wood (f.1814) to develop slowly in Ireland throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. For Catholics it was a period of uncertainty and flux, and this allowed the tradition of Irish boys boarding at non-Irish schools to continue. The most famous Catholics of this period, such as Richard Lalor Sheil, Thomas Wyse and Daniel O'Connell were all educated outside of Ireland." As the continental options narrowed after 1814, the English Catholic colleges became increasingly central to Irish Catholic elite culture, and, for the rest of the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth, an education at a school such as Stonyhurst in Lancashire, Downside near Bath, or Ampleforth in Yorkshire remained a popular draw.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available