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ire-Ireland, Volume 46:3&4, Fomhar/Geimhreadh / Fall/Winter 2011,

pp. 201-226 (Article)
DOI: 10.1353/eir.2011.0024

For additional information about this article


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Ian dAlton

Educating for Ireland?

The Urban Protestant
Elite and the Early Years
of Cork Grammar School,

My thoughts at this time were greatly occupied in fixing upon

some English school for my boys, the advantages of which I see more
clearly every day, wrote Captain Otho Travers, the East India Companys recruiting agent in Cork, in 1834. At pains to confide to his diary that I wish not to speak against my country, he felt that English
schools taught better manners and had more clat.2
Nearly half a century later, two founders of Cork Grammar
SchoolMervyn Archdall, the Church of Ireland archdeacon of
Cork, and Thomas M. Usborne, a prominent merchantarticulated
a very different vision for Irish Protestant secondary education.
According to Usborne, the school was simply set on foot for the
purpose of supplying a great want in Corknamely, a good public
school, and with the object of inducing persons who had been sending their children to England, to educate them at home. The archdeacon suggested that
it is a great pity that Irish parents who labour at home and expect
their sons will live in the country, for wear [sic] or woe, will not see
. This article is an expanded and revised version of a paper read at the 17th
International Conference of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland,
held at the Institute of Irish Studies of the University of Liverpool on 1 July 2011. I
owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Ciaran ONeill of Trinity College Dublin, joint
convenor of the conference, who knows much more about Irish education than I
ever shall. His perceptive and erudite comments vastly improved my original draft.
Thanks also to Robbie Roulston and Felix Larkin for several helpful comments and
. Diary of Otho Travers, entries for Dec. 1833, Jan. and May 1834 (National
Library of Ireland [hereafter cited as NLI] Microfilm P.3064). For interesting comments on Irish boys educated in England, see Freemans Journal, 31 Aug., 1 Sept. 1885.
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how desirable it is to keep up the connection during the time of their

education with the people amongst whom they are to live subsequently. . . . They did not want to make Englishmen of their boys.
There was much to admire in the Irish character and they wanted to
maintain it.3

While Archdalls comments indicated a somewhat more Hibernocentric perspective, Usbornes could be interpreted as a desire for a soidisant English public school in Cork (it was more than ironic that he
sent his only son to Harrow and Cambridge).4 Their remarks beg at
least a couple of big questions. In an Irish context, what was superior or secondary schooling actually for? And what part, if any, did such
superior education play in shaping the world of the minority Protestant elite in southern Ireland at the end of the nineteenth century and
the beginning of the twentieth?5 This essay offers some observations
on these questions, using Cork Grammar School as exemplar. First,
the scene is set by outlining briefly the economic and educational
dynamics of Cork Protestants over the latter part of the nineteenth
century; second, the impetus for the establishment of schools such
as Cork Grammar is examined in a national context; and thirdby
reference to these national factorswe analyze how two charismatic
headmasters worked the system to the better advantage of the Protestant community in Cork. What emerges above all is the significance
of the cult of the headmaster in the nineteenth century, particularly
the role of the leader in a relatively mundane school, and how different a direction such a school can take with a change of personality.
. Cork Constitution [hereafter cited as CC], 21 July 1882.
. In J. and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses, 10 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 192258), http://venn.lib.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/search.pl?sur=&suro=c
nt=50 [accessed on 17 Aug. 2011]; The Times, 9 June 1915 (obituary of Thomas Usborne, MP for Chelmsford, 18921900).
. R.F. Foster, Modern Ireland, 16001972 (London: Allen Lane, 1988), 434;
D.G. Boyce, One Last Burial: Culture, Counter-Revolution, and Revolution in Ireland, 18861916, in D.G. Boyce (ed.), The Revolution in Ireland, 18791923 (Dublin:
Gill and Macmillan, 1988), 135. For a discussion of the position of southern Irish
Protestantism as a historiographical construct, see I. dAlton, A Perspective upon
Historical Process: The Case of Southern Irish Protestantism, in F.B. Smith (ed.),
Ireland, England, and Australia: Essays in Honour of Oliver MacDonagh (Canberra and
Cork: Australian National University and Cork University Press, 1990), 7091.


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Table 1
Percentage of Protestants in Selected Occupations in Cork City,
1833 and 1881
Bankers, merchants
Engineers, surveyors
Students, literary
House construction
Mechanics, labourers





Cork citys economic life remained dominated by Protestants for

much of the nineteenth century. The landscape, however, was changing, as demonstrated in Table 1.6 John OBrien suggested that as early
as 1841, with their capture of Cork Corporation, the Catholic middle
classes had arrived. But that did not necessarily mean that the formerly dominant Protestants had left.7 At the time of Cork Grammar
Schools foundation in 1881, with Protestants accounting for only 15
percent of the population, they still held around 40 percent of the
jobs in the professions.8 Even by the early twentieth century they
remained overrepresented in the citys civil administration, in such
posts as public notaries and district registrars of marriages, for in. CC, 24 Oct. 1833; Census of Ireland, 1881, Part 1, Vol. 2, Province of Munster,
No. 2, County and City of Cork [3148-II], H.C. 1882, lxxvii, 119, Table XIXa, 296302.
. J. OBrien, The Catholic Middle Classes in Pre-Famine Cork (The ODonnell
Lecture, 1979), (Dublin: National University of Ireland, n.d.), 1920. See also A.
Bielenberg, Corks Industrial Revolution, 17801880: Development or Decline? (Cork:
Cork University Press, 1991), passim.
. Census of Ireland, 1881, Part 1, Vol. 2, Province of Munster, No. 2, County
and City of Cork [3148-II], H.C. 1882, lxxvii, 119, Table XIXa, 296302; I. dAlton,
Southern Irish Unionism: A Study of Cork City and County Unionists, 18851914,
M.A. Thesis, National University of Ireland (University College, Cork), 1972, 2731.
For an overview of the religio-economic balance in Cork in this period, see J. OBrien,
Population, Politics, and Society in Cork, 17801900, in P. OFlanagan and C.
Butttimer (eds.), Cork History and Society: Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an
Irish County (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1993), 699720.
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stance.9 In socioeconomic terms, of course, Protestantism was by no

means monolithic, as Martin Maguire has demonstrated in the case
of Dublin in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cork
was broadly similar, though it must be said that long before Dublins
Protestant working classes had melted away by the late 1930s,10 the
hundreds of Protestant inhabitants in greatest distress, graphically described by the rector of St. Anne Shandon in 1845, were already close to vanishing point.11 By 1881 the professional, the skilled,
and the commercial accounted for more than two-thirds of male occupations among city Protestants.
The middle-class, dominant elite within an elite, however, had
within it a further group. This super-elite consisted of those able to
receive a superior education. As in the Catholic community, it was
small and privileged. In 1871, between 2,000 and 2,500 Cork city
Protestant households produced a total enrollment of about 220 boys
and 150 girls in its private Protestant superior schools. Girls seem
to have been particularly well-catered for, with two highly regarded
establishmentsRochelle, established in 1829 as an academy for the
teaching of governesses, and the High School,12 founded in 1876 by
. For the national picture at a high level, ranging from the peerage to various
commissioners, resident magistrates, etc., see the seminal work by K. Flanagan, The
Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible: Competitive Examinations for the Irish and
Indian Civil Services in Relation to the Educational and Occupational Structure of
Ireland, 18531921, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Sussex, 1978, 607, Table 6:4 [hereafter cited as Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible].
. M. Maguire, The Dublin Protestant Working Class, 18701932: Economy,
Society, Politics, M.A. Thesis, National University of Ireland (University College
Dublin), 1990; idem, The Organisation and Activism of Dublins Protestant Working Class, 18831935, Irish Historical Studies 29:113 (May 1994), 6587; idem, The
Church of Ireland and the Problem of the Protestant Working-Class of Dublin,
1870s1930s, in A. Ford, J. McGuire, and K. Milne (eds.), As by Law Established:The
Church of Ireland since the Reformation (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1995), 202.
. Rev. W. Neligan to Sir Robert Peel, 28 Jan. 1845 (Peel Papers, British Library
Add. MS 40558).
. The High School, under headmistress Harriet Martin, was an idiosyncratic
institution in the period from 1884 to 1907. See M. Taylor, Sir Bertram Windle: A
Memoir (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1932), 16869 (diary entries for 17, 21, 28
Feb. 1905). See F. ODwyer, The Architecture of Deane andWoodward (Cork: Cork University Press, 1997), 370, for a brief reference to Harriet Martins headmistressship
of Cork High School after 1884, her friendship with John Ruskin, and her institution
of a Ruskinite guild of rose queens in the school. See also M. Leland, The Lie of the
Land: Journeys through Literary Cork (Cork: Cork University Press, 1999), 235.


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the same William Goulding13 who was to be one of the co-founders

of Cork Grammar School five years later.14 If this set of figures seems
a low proportion from city Protestant households, one reason may
have been the effect of educational emigration. Frederick Falkiner
and Maurice Hime, writing in the mid-1880s, suggested that up to
1,300 Protestant Irish boys were attending English schools.15 It appears that this educational diaspora was principally composed of
the relaxed rich and the aspiring or perspiring middle classes.16 We
have relatively little information on the latter group. Of the former,
prominent instances are the West Cork journalist Lionel Fleming,
whose grandfather attended Kilkenny College; but his son, Lionels
father, was schooled in Britain.17 Henry Cole Bowens sons went to
Midleton College in the 1780s; their sons in turn were educated in
England. For the aristocracy and gentry at least, this seems to have
been the dominant pattern.18 To proceed somewhat more scientifically, an examination of Batemans The Great Landowners of Great
Britain and Ireland indicates that a majority of listed Cork landlords
(most of whom had undergone their formal education before 1850)
attended English schools and universities.19 This super-super educated elite was influential at the highest reaches of Irish society: at the

. Goulding, though Conservative MP for Cork City, 187680, was a relative

liberal in other ways; he championed the opening of clerkships in the Great Southern
and Western Railway Company in 1903. See F. Campbell, The Irish Establishment,
18791914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 241.
. See D. Rudd, Rochelle: The History of a School in Cork, 18291979 (n.p., n.d.),
7. The population figures are derived from the 1871 census, as summarized in Francis Guys County and City of Cork Directory for the Years 18751876 (Cork: Guy, 1876),
50910 [hereafter cited as Guys Directory, 1875]. There was an average of about four
persons per household in a total Protestant population of 10,942 (including Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians).
. M.C. Hime, Home Education, or Irish Versus English Grammar Schools for Irish
Boys (London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1887), 23. For a more detailed discussion
of educational absenteeism, see Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible,
7172. Dr. Ciaran ONeills ongoing research confirms that this was the case for
Catholics also, even those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
. Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 75.
. L. Fleming, Head or Harp (London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1965), 18.
. See Campbell, Irish Establishment, 2527, for the national picture.
. J. Bateman, The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (London: Harrison, 1883), passim.
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Table 2
Principal Protestant Superior Schools in Cork, 1881





cork county
Bishop Crowes Endowed School, Cloyne
Bandon Grammar School (founded 1641)
Midleton College (founded 1696)
Fermoy College
Queenstown College
St. Edmunds College, Dunmanway
St. Faughnans College, Rosscarbery
cork city
St. Stephens Blue-Coat Hospital
Green-Coat Hospital
Moses Deanes Charity Schools
Mr. Hamblin and Dr. Porters School
Dr. Brownes School
Mr. Greenstreets School
Mr. Knapps Civil, Military, Naval, and Collegiate
Boarding and Day School

end of the century about 20 percent of senior civil servants had been
educated at one or another English public school.20
For those who could not afford, or did not care for, an English secondary education, a plethora of small schools existed in the county,
as outlined in Table 2.21 These schools, mainly classical in character,
offered a relatively high-cost education principally aimed at university entrance and, in some cases, preparation for the army, navy, and
home civil service. They offered other attractionsfor parents any. Campbell, Irish Establishment, 6768.
. For the Cork city endowed schools listed above, see T. Cadogan (ed.), Lewis
Cork: A Topographical Dictionary of the Parishes, Towns, and Villages of Cork City and
County, reprint ed. (Cork: Collins Press, 1998), 240; Aldwells County and City of
Cork Post-Office General Directory, 18445 (Cork: Jackson, 1845), 9899. For Fermoy
College, see also M. Barry, A Brief History of Fermoy, http://www.blackwater.ie
/fermoy/history.htm [accessed on 25 April 2011]. For Queenstown College (founded
in 1883), see advertisement in CC, 22 Jan. 1883. For Midleton College, see Flanagan,
Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 12425. For pre-1878 Anglican schools generally in Ireland, see K. Flanagan, The Shaping of Irish Anglican Secondary Schools,
18541878, History of Education 13:1 (1984), 2743.


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way! St. Edmunds College, Dunmanway, boasted of its remote location: Being completely in the country, [it] is removed from the vices
and temptations incident to towns and villages.22 St. Faughnans
College, Rosscarbery, under the patronage of Lord Carbery, attempted to straddle both worlds, being, as it claimed, conducted strictly
on English principles.23 In the city the endowed schools were for less
well-to-do Protestants.24 The private schools for the better-off tended to be small, under-resourced, and not particularly good, though
Mr.Hamblin and Dr. Porters School had some two hundred pupils
in the mid-1880s.25
The genesis of Cork Grammar was grounded in a response to
the opportunities and challenges facing Irish Protestants in the midnineteenth century. At the local level, as in Dublin, the Protestant
nexus allowed job-seekers of that persuasion to rely on Protestantcontrolled firms for employment, but the numbers of such firms were
small, and opportunities for advancement scarce.26 With restricted
demand came a parallel problem of oversupply. In general, it has
been postulated that around the mid-century an overproduction of
professionals forced Protestants to seek opportunities abroad.27 They
thus needed to be equipped to compete on foreign as well as home
territory.28 Allied to this push factor was a pull one: Irish uni. CC, 20 July 1881 (advertisement).
. Of these, Midleton College, Fermoy College (English Public School System), St. Faughnans College, and Bandon Grammar School were still operational
in 1907. See Guys City and County Cork Almanac and Directory, 1907 (Cork: Guy,
1907), 7576 [hereafter cited as Guys Directory, 1907]. Today only Midleton College
and Bandon Grammar School survive under their original designations.
. Cadogan, Lewis Cork, 18688.
. Hime, Home Education, 55n.
. See Guys Directory, 1907, 88 (for notaries public, district registrars) and 95
102 (for list of companies). Their religious orientation can generally be gauged by
the names of the directors or managers. Maura Murphy has concluded that though
certain large city business concerns like the brewers, distillers, and provision stores
remained in the same families for generations, the smaller concerns remained in individual families for much shorter periods. . . . See M. Murphy, The Economic and
Social Structure of Nineteenth-Century Cork, in D. Harkness and M. ODowd (eds.),
The Town in Ireland (Historical Studies XIII), (Belfast: Appletree Press, 1981), 132.
. Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 62225. He makes the
point that the majority of Protestant clergy and doctors went abroad (ibid., 624).
. For a discussion of the competitive effects of the tenfold increase in the numbers of the Irish civil service between 1861 and 1911, see J. Hutchinson, The Dynamics
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Table 3
Protestant and Catholic Superior Schools and Pupils in Ireland,
1834 and 1861
number of
superior schools

of pupils

% change, 183461
schools pupils






+ 274



versities, especially the Queens Colleges, were seen from the midcentury as more adept than Oxbridge at equipping their students to
compete for bureaucratic state jobs in particular, leading educated
Irish ProtestantsAnglicans especiallyto punch above their weight
against those from other parts of the kingdom, in the competitive
examinations for the home and imperial service, with India becoming a special preserve.29 Modernized and competent feeder schools
played an important role in this Protestant revolution of rising (or
at least level) expectations, even if by the 1880s the Irish Protestant Indian summer was already on the wane,30 and the pressure
of increased Catholic participation, outlined in Table 3 for the midcentury, had become greater.
In 1871, Protestants and Catholics each accounted for 50 percent
of superior-school pupils. By 1911, however, the proportions were
27 percent and 73 percent respectively.31 This sharp secular reversal
of Cultural Nationalism: The Gaelic Revival and the Creation of the Irish Nation State
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1987), 25862; J. White, Minority Report (Dublin: Gill
and Macmillan, 1975), 159. For the Catholic element, see C. Shepard, Irish Journalists in the Intellectual Diaspora: Edward Alexander Morphy and Henry David
OShea in the Far East, New Hibernia Review 14:3 (Autumn 2010), 7590.
. For a discussion of the impact of this factor on the generality of Irish entrants, Catholic and Protestant, see T.J. McElligott, Secondary Education in Ireland,
18701921 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1981), 1315.
. Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 63134.
. According to Fergus Campbell, the 1878 Intermediate Education Act resulted in nothing less than a revolution in Catholic participation in secondary education (Irish Establishment, 76). See also Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 61, Table 1:1, 62, 596; J. Coolahan, Irish Education, Its History and Structure
(Dublin: Institute of Public Administration, 1981), 65.


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in the relative dominance and absolute numbers of Protestant secondary schools and the concomitant increase in suitably qualified
Catholic candidates did not necessarily translate into a proportionate
jobs dividend. Fergus Campbell has argued that the greening of
the late nineteenth-century Irish administration, as assessed by Lawrence McBride, did not yet prevail to the extent hitherto thought.
Campbells point is that Irish Protestants maintained a grip on the
highest (and thus the most influential and powerful) echelons of the
Irish administration for considerably longer than earlier stated. If that
is the case, then Irish Protestants were acting rationally in accord
with an expectation that so long as an ethnic preference could be
validated by a superior education, it would continue to afford them
superior jobs in the state and bureaucratic apparatus.32
The particular impetus for the foundation of Cork Grammar was
the enactment of the 1878 Intermediate Education (Ireland) Act.
This law was the second attempt to provide a centrally standardized
examination system for Ireland. The first, established by the Queens
Colleges in 1860, had been the Middle Class Examinations, modelled on the lines of the English Local Examinations. The system
lasted a mere seven years; it was unsuccessful and unpopular probably because no grants or prizes were available.33 The 1878 law set up
public examinations for secondary schools for any boy (and later girl)
who had received education in an Irish school during the preceding year. Conjured up by Disraelis Conservative government, this
scheme was in essence a backdoor method of subsidizing Catholic
schools while ostensibly adhering to the merit principle.34 In comparison to previous attempts to fund superior education, money was
made availablein this case, the income derived from 1 million of
. F. Campbell, Who Ruled Ireland? The Irish Administration, 18791914,
Historical Journal 50 (2007), 62344. Campbells Irish Establishment, 5354, is a riposte to Lawrence McBrides thesis in his The Greening of Dublin Castle: The Transformation of Bureaucratic and Judicial Personnel in Ireland, 18921922 (Washington, D.C.:
Catholic University of America Press, 1991), ix.
. J. Burns, Shop Window to the World (Dublin: Board of Governors of the Masonic Boys School, 1967), 24. This is a history of the Masonic Boys School, Dublin.
What the title implies about the Masonic approach to the education of the Irish Protestant lower middle class is revealing.
. D.H. Akenson, Pre-University Education, 18701921, in W.E. Vaughan
(ed.), A New History of Ireland, Vol. VI: Ireland under the Union, Part 2, 18701921 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 524.
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the funds of the recently disestablished Irish Anglican church. And

payment by results was the novel feature of the 1878 scheme. In Donald Akensons words, it represented the Victorian commercial code
applied to education.35 To benefit from its provisions, a school had
to be aggressive and efficient. Prizes and more substantial exhibitions
were awarded to individuals,36 but the vast bulk of the rewards went
directly to the schools, to be used in whatever manner they thought
fit. For unendowed schools the pious hope was that the funds would
be used to improve buildings and equipment or to pay for additional
staff. But this was seldom the practice. Almost invariably, the monies
were shared out among existing staff members, especially those at
the top. In 1883, for instance, the Masonic Boys School in Dublin
earned 24, two-thirds of which went straight into the headmasters
pocket. By 1903 that school had received nearly 500, of which half
was granted to the headmaster.37 New schools like Cork Grammar
slightly uppity and opportunisticneeded the income, having neither endowments nor the weight of antiquity on which to draw.38
Whatever the distorting effects arising from this financial bonanza
and from the manner of its distribution, at one stroke an objective
examination standard was applied to virtually all Irish secondary
schools. Employers now had a measure to compare the ability and
competence of prospective employees; and parents could do the same
with schools. Within a couple of years league tables were common
and were frequently used by the schools themselves as a marketing
toolengendering, in the educational historian John Coolahans
opinion, an unhealthy rivalry between them.39 But, of course, competition was what the new system was designed to promote. This,
then, was the novel structural environmentalong with the relative success of the recently established High School for Girlsthat
. Ibid., 525.
. These latter charges ranged from 20 for junior grades to 50 in the senior
significant sums in an age when annual boarding fees were seldom over 30, and day
fees were about 15.
. Burns, Shop Window, 28.
. I am indebted to Dr. Ciaran ONeill for this point. A comparison can be
made with the slightly earlier Nathaniel Woodard schools in England. See J.R. Honey,
Tom Browns Universe:The Development of the Public School in the 19th Century (London:
Millington, 1977), 47104.
. Coolahan, Irish Education, 64.


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Seal of Cork Grammar


prompted the creation of a

new Protestant boys school
in Cork in 1882. A substantial sum of about 2,600 was
raised by local subscription,
and The Cork Grammar School
Company Limited was formed.40
For Irish Protestants symbols were
increasingly significant in the later Victorian period. The schools seal, a representation of which appears above, rewards scrutiny in that context. Through symbols the elite but relatively
small and isolated Protestant communities in southern Ireland could
establish a more solid collective identity and a greater esprit de corps,
which were all the more necessary in the face of the cascading effects of
land agitation, Parnellism, Catholic religious militancy, and above all
the Gaelic cultural revival. Looked upon, in the words of a Protestant
novelist in 1916, as illegitimate children of an irregular union between
Hibernia and John Bull,41 southern Protestants in particular had to
cope with the paradox of an Ireland whose narrative inexplicably demanded their adherence to the nation and their exclusion from it at
one and the same time. In one reading the arms of the school constituted an attempt to place the Protestant community within an Irish
identity with which its members could be comfortable by combining
the arms of the city of Cork with those of the Church of Ireland, thus
cementing the principal Protestant national institution into one of
its geographic local expressions. The strong influence of the Church
of Ireland was evident from the first. The bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and
. Information in a letter from the Secretary, Society for Promoting Protestant
Schools in Ireland, to the Principal, Ashton School (Cork Grammars lineal descendent), 28 May 1975 (Ashton School Archives, Cork [hereafter cited as ASA]).
. S. Day, The Amazing Philanthropists (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1916), 16.
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Ross was president of the founding Board of Management, and of its

seven members, three were clerics.42 The motto was a biblical quote
with loyalist overtones: Fear God, honour the king.43 An interesting omission, however, was that overt symbol of royalty and loyalty
the crown.44 The Latinate inscription of the seal implied a classically
based education and a connection with Usbornes public-school ethos,
though what that actually meant in an Irish context is unclear.45
Continuity with an older educational establishment was maintained by absorbing it into the rather ramshackle Sidney Place premises of Mr. Knapps Civil, Military, Naval, and Collegiate Boarding
and Day School, one of those academies that had found it difficult
to survive under the new Intermediate system. Situated in the most
Protestant part of the city (one which regularly returned unionists to the city council until local-government reform in 1899),46 it
was also contiguous to the High School for Girls. Cork Grammar
was founded as a day school, but from late 1882 onward the headmaster was permitted to take in a few boarders.47 Fees ranged between 10 and 15 guineas per annum, equivalent today (2011) to about
1,3001,600modest enough when compared to equivalent English charges, but relatively expensive for an Irish school.48 As an in. These were the bishop, the archdeacon, and the dean of Cork, Cloyne, and
Ross, as well as lay Protestants Richard Pigott Beamish, William Goulding, Robert
Hall, and Thomas Usborne, all four of whom were prominent in Corks mercantile
life (CC, 10 Jan. 1881, advertisement). See also CC, 24 Dec. 1883.
. 1 Peter 2, v.17.
. The crown was heavily used in other southern Irish loyalist institutions of the
period, notably the Primrose League (whose motto was Quis separabit), and also in
medals struck after the great unionist demonstrations of 1885 and 1892 in Dublin.
. A useful general discussion of the nature of grammar schooling is G. Sutherlands Education, in F.M.L. Thompson (ed.) Social Agencies and Institutions: The
Cambridge Social History of Britain, 17501950, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 3:11969. It was generally held that the only Irish school that
could properly aspire to considering itself an English public school was St. Columbas
College, Dublin.
. See dAlton, Southern Irish Unionism, Chap. 3, 10556.
. CC, 29 Dec. 1881. Boarders were not significant until Ralph Harveys headmastership; their numbers (connected, in the headmasters words, very much with
the present condition of the country) fluctuated until the late 1880s, hitting a low in
1886 (CC, 23 Dec. 1886).
. Flanagan considered such fees expensive (Rise and Fall of the Celtic
Ineligible, 121). The current valuation has been taken from http://www.measuring
worth.com/ukcompare/result.php [accessed on 10 May 2011].


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ducement to parents to keep their children at the school, the board

undertook not to charge more than 12 guineas a year for boys who
stayed for the whole of their education. The syllabus was what the age
demanded. Pupils would be instructed in the Holy Scriptures and the
formularies of the Church of Ireland. Latin, Greek, and mathematics
for Irish and English university entrance doubtless satisfied Usbornes
public-school pretensions. But considered broadly, the curriculum
was vocational. Modern languages, English literature, composition
and grammar, ancient and modern geography, and history would be
studied. But as attractions to its principal customer base among the
city commercial classes, writing and bookkeeping, arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry would fulfill the requirements of mercantile
pursuits49 as well as those of the army and civil service. In a wise decisionin light of luring pupils from the other non-Catholic segments
of the population, especially Jews50the founders chose to emphasize
the right, enshrined in the 1878 act, to allow any pupil to be withheld
from classes offering religious instruction.51
The first headmaster was an Englishman, Edmund Arblaster. A
former scholar and prizeman of Clare College, Cambridge, his pedagogic credentials seemed equally prestigious. He had been assistant
master at Magdalene College School, Oxford, and latterly second
master at the Grammar School, Great Yarmouth. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that an Englishman having to seek employment as a
teacher in Ireland may have reflected adversely on his quality, the
Cork Constitution, the mouthpiece of local Protestants,52 concluded
that this appointment cannot fail to be regarded as an earnest of the
. The phrase mercantile pursuits was used in the schools entry in Guys
Directory, 1907, 75. It reflected Corks position as, par excellence, a mercantile rather
than an industrial city at the end of the nineteenth century.
. Quite early on, the school attracted Jewish pupils; for one example in 1893,
see C. Grda, Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Socioeconomic History (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2006), 127. Jewry was active (and contentious, possibly
because most were immigrants) in the period 18801910. A Jewish national school
was founded in 1891, and it had eighty-seven children on the roll by 1898. See L. Hyman, The Jews of Ireland from the Earliest Times to theYear 1910 (Dublin: Irish University
Press, 1972), 21824.
. CC, 28 Dec. 1881 (advertisement); 29 Dec. 1881 (news item). See also McElligott, Secondary Education in Ireland, 2829.
. According to Guys Directory, 1875, its tone was decidedly aristocratic, and
its principles distinctly Protestant and constitutional (507).
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intention of the board to secure that the school shall rank high as an
educational establishment. It opened its doors on 25 January 1882
with about forty pupils. At a ceremony the new headmaster promised
an emphasis on punctuality and good attendance as well as on the
more muscular pursuits of cricket and football.53
It proved insufficient, however, to just sit back and let the pupils
drift in, which is what the management seems to have done. Ominous
weaknesses, pedagogical and financial, quickly became apparent. As
early as July 1882, Arblaster complained that students suffered from
a lack of systemized class work and from serious indiscipline. This
second problem seems to have been as much owing to Arblasters
own character as to rowdy pupils or indulgent parents. In the words
of his obituarist, he had not either the knack of keeping discipline
or the turn for business administration essential for a really successful scholastic career.54 One problem was that while the schools first
prospectus promised that the examinations under the Intermediate
Education Act will be carefully provided for,55 this goal seems not
to have been Arblasters priority. At the schools first prize-day ceremony in mid-1882 he declared that he favored a school that not only
follows the time-honoured system of giving a thorough education in
the liberal arts . . . but also comprehends . . . modern languages and
natural science. In late 1883, with some bruising experiences of the
Intermediate examinations under his belt, he was even more firmly
convinced that what has been called the competition craze of the
nineteenth century is leading to very evil results in the way of generating an idea that the passing of an examination is the be-all and endall of education.56 His successor, the Rev. John Berry,57 concurred:
. CC, 26 Jan. 1882.
. Edmund Arblaster (18521937) matriculated at Cambridge University in
1872 (Clare College, 187275). See The Clare Association Annual, 1947 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1947), 45. For an indication of his scholarly bent, see E.
Arblaster, Note on a passage of Plato, Soph., Journal of Philology 6:11 (1876), 160.
. CC, 29 Dec. 1881.
. CC, 24 Dec. 1883; CC, 21 July 1882.
. The Rev. John Berry was born in April 1856 at Tullamore in Kings County
(Offaly) and was educated at Chard Grammar School and Trinity College Dublin
(B.A., 1877; M.A., 1880; B.D., 1888). He served as headmaster, Portarlington School
and Cork Grammar School; as principal, Fermoy College, 188795; and as rector of
Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada, beginning in 1895. See J.J. Howard and F.A. Crisp,
Visitation of Ireland, reprint ed. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973), 22.


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I am strongly opposed, he declared, to making the Intermediate

results the chief aim of masters and pupils. . . .58 That first foray into
the Intermediate system in 1883 seemed to confirm the schools inability to take proper advantage of the new system. Admittedly, the
sixteen pupils entered achieved a pass rate of 69 percent, which appeared to compare favorably with the average of 57 percent for all
Irish schools. But a more apposite comparison, limited to Protestant schools, did not flatter. Some chagrin was doubtless occasioned
by the striking performance of Cork Grammars near-neighbor, the
High School for Girls, which achieved a 100-percent pass rate for its
fourteen entrants, with thirteen honors.
Under Arblaster (who left the school abruptly in mid-term in February 1885) and Berry (who lasted for only another two years), the
school was reduced to a parlous state. It was not entirely their fault;
the disturbed nature of the country in the mid-1880s did not help.59
By the end of its first year Cork Grammar had 49 pupils; enrollment reached 54 in 1883 but then proceeded to drop every year until
1887, when a low of 33 was reached. Quite simply, the school had not
worked the system well enough. Resultson which a successful use
of the 1878 law was predicatedcould not be achieved without numbers. Numbers could not be kept up without results. In all probability
the school would not have survived financially without a donation of
1,000 in 1888 from brewer Arthur Crawford, which was used to pay
off an accumulated debt.60 More drastic action was needed to ensure
that the school would have a future.
Salvation, as it turned out, appeared in the unlikely form of the
Rev. Ralph Harvey. A tough, bluff, rough Yorkshireman who had
come to the school as an assistant master in 1885, Harvey was appointed headmaster on Berrys resignation in 1887. Stephen Farrington, later Cork city borough engineer and one of Harveys star
pupils, described him as tall and broad, with a rust-red beard that
. CC, 23 Dec. 1886.
. Cork Grammar was not the only school affected. Others, such as Alexandra School for girls in Dublin, also found the going tough. See A. OConnor and
S. Parkes, Gladly Learn and Gladly Teach: A History of Alexandra College and School,
Dublin, 18661966 (Dublin: Blackwater Press, 1966), 3839. On the Catholic side the
Jesuits had to close their best school (Tullabeg) in 1886 and merge it with Clongowes,
then a much inferior establishment.
. CC, 18 Dec. 1895.
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would have done justice to a South Sea pirate. Farrington opined

that the beard should have been accompanied by a sunburnt, cutlasscarved visage. Instead, Harvey sported a pink-and-white Dresden
china complexion, giving him an alien and rather terrifying appearance to small boys and occasionally to bigger bishops. According to
Farrington, Harvey instituted a reign of terror that was immoral,
having no relation to conduct, and unpredictable, having no relation to cause and effect. This may have been no bad thing, Farrington thought: after all, thriving communities are known to have
lived on volcanoes. . . .61
Whatever his demeanor, Harvey recast the school as a successful
adjunct to, and support for, the Cork Protestant community, while
paradoxically refusing in many respects to pander to the pretensions
of the Protestant middle classes. Mindful of the ephemeral nature of
the proprietary-school system, he cemented Anglican financial control by bringing Grammar within the City of Cork Church School
Board in March 1890, under the provisions of the 1885 Educational
Endowments (Ireland) Act.62 His educational influence was evident
in four principal areas: the achievement of examination successes; a
bias toward matriculation in the Royal University of Ireland (RUI);
an emphasis on applied science and on practical entry into the civil
service and commercial careers; and an improvement in the quality
of the schools premises.
A classicist and historian of minor note,63 Harvey was a staunchly
unfashionable proponent of Pearses ruthless murder machine.64
During his tenure the Intermediate examinations became the touchstonethe very ne plus ultraof Grammar; so much so that, out of
. S. Farrington, The Grammar School under Harvey, The Grammarian 1:4
(1953), 10.
. 48 & 49 Vict., c. 78. The Cork Grammar scheme was number 47 under the
1885 act; a copy survives in the Ashton School Archives.
. He was editor of numerous works: Richard Misyns translation of Rolles
Incendium Amoris (1896); Ovid, Metamorphoses XIII and XIV (1898); Cicero, Pro Lege
Manilia (1900); Pro Archia (1906); and Catiline (1907). He was elected a Fellow of the
Royal Historical Society in 1885 (CC, 4 April 1885). See also M. ORell, Class Book of
French Composition (Paris: Hachette, 1897), 195, where Harveys Cicero is mentioned
as a recommended text; and F. Hunt and J. Wuillemin, The Oxford & Cambridge
French Grammar (London: Hachette, 1898), 16263, for another encomium.
. P.H. Pearse, An Ideal in Irish Education, Irish Review (June 1914); P.H.
Pearse, The Murder Machine (Dublin: Whelan, 1916), passim.


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about fifty Irish Protestant schools, it was adjudged to be the third

most successful in 1898.65 Nothing could have been further from the
ambitions of Harveys predecessor, who had declared in 1886 that
the preparation for this examination [the Intermediate] was so arranged as not to interfere with the regular work of the school. For
Harvey, by contrast, the Intermediate was the regular work of the
schoolto the extent that external examiners were dispensed with
in 1893, and internal school examinations after 1898.66
This concentration on the Intermediate system was discomfiting
to many members of the schools governing body. Bishop Edward
Meade of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, taking his life in his hands, diffidently suggested in front of Harvey in 1907 that the real object of
education for the pupils was that their characters might be formed,
and that they might learn to be earnest, faithful, true, and diligent.67
The headmaster was having none of this. He always steadfastly maintained that the Intermediate system was sound in principle, if somewhat capricious in practice.68 He had little sympathy with those who
criticized the restrictions of the system on good teachers, the substantial pressure on pupils to win prizes and exhibitions, the concomitant neglect of weaker students, and the unhealthy competition
within and between schools.69 He denied that the system led to cramming, though it is hardly surprising that the Intermediate inspectorate uncovered clear evidence of this.70 Harvey had no doubt that the
Intermediate system was vital to the schools continued existence.
. Ten candidates had been entered in 1889; the corresponding number had
risen to forty-three by 1906. See Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible,
66062, for a list of Protestant schools, 18551900, from which Trinity College matriculands graduated. Cork Grammar is probably the school described there as Sidney Place Collegiate School.
. CC, 22 Dec. 1894; 23 Dec. 1898; 22 Dec. 1899.
. Prize-day report (CC, 21 Dec. 1907).
. Prize-day report (CC, 21 Dec. 1906).
. P. Hogan, The Fortress of the Good and the Liberation of Tradition: A Review of Irish Education in the Late Twentieth Century, Studies 75:4 (Autumn 1986),
. Reports of Temporary Inspectors of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland
(Cork Grammar School), 2 parts (Dublin: privately printed, 1902), 1:163 (copies in
ASA). Harveys apologia for the system, and his denial of cramming, may be found in
a 1906 prize-day report (CC, 21 Dec. 1906). As early as 1898 the commissioners had
recognized the general problem (Akenson, Pre-University Education, 52527). In
1908, finally, a system of payment by inspection was introduced.
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As he stated bluntly in 1894, If he did not produce examination

results quickly, there would be no schoolnothing left but the four
walls...; except for the Intermediate system of payment of results
[sic], the Cork Grammar School would not survive six months. . . .71
The bias toward the Royal University was further evidence of the
relative Hibernicization of the school under Harvey, who based his
leanings entirely on utilitarian considerations. He appreciated that
in Kieran Flanagans wordsthe Queens Colleges were highly professional in orientation and provided a vocational training that corresponded with the necessities and aspirations of their students.72
Protestants accounted for between one-half and one-quarter of those
at Queens College, Cork, between the 1880s and 1908, when the RUI
was dissolved.73 Twice as many pupils matriculated into the College
as entered Trinity College Dublin, and in 1896 it was said that more
students from Cork Grammar passed into the RUI than from any
other Protestant school in the south of Ireland. The apparent favoring of the RUI seems again to have made some conservative church
elements uneasy. This cut little ice with Harvey. Ireland was not the
richest country in the world, he brusquely asserted in 1894, and
the fees of Trinity College compared unfavourably with the R.U.I.74
Harveys equipping of the local Protestant community with the
educational tools to compete was encapsulated in a vocationally driven curriculum. Building on the schools initial prospectus, it provided
. Quoted in CC, 24 Dec. 1894.
. Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 621. As an example, in
1909 University College Corkthe former Queens College, Corkbegan offering
a special course for journalists who propose to proceed to the B.A. degree . . . ,
[with] opportunities to attend lectures on the professional aspects of journalism.
This course, the first of its kind in Britain or Ireland, was introduced on the initiative of the president of the college, Bertram Windle. See F.M. Larkin, A Tale of
Two Elites: Politics and Journalism in Ireland, 18701918 (paper read at the 17th
International Conference of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland,
Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, 1 July 2011), 6.
. This situation helps to explain why in 1905 the bishop of Cork, Cloyne, and
Ross was, according to President Windle, so solicitous about [the] college. See diary
entry by Bertram Windle, 6 March 1905, quoted in Taylor, Windle, 170. The figure for
the earlier period is derived from John A. Murphy, The College: A History of Queens/
University College Cork, 18451995 (Cork: Cork University Press, 1995), 116, and from
Guys Directory, 1875, 44. For the later period, see CC, 22 Dec. 1903. See also the comments of Canon D.H. Powell at the 1897 prize-day ceremony (CC, 23 Dec. 1897).
. CC, 22 Dec. 1894. See also Campbell, Irish Establishment, 281.


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for a wide range of careers and further education. Science for Harvey
was a passion, to the extent that he had a small private laboratory.75
Pupils were prepared for the entrance examinations of a plethora of
universities, English and Irish, as well as for those of the home and
imperial civil services, the armed forces, the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and of Science, the banks, and accountancy. Pitman courses
in typing and bookkeeping were also taught, as were city and guild
vocational and technical subjects.
Finally, there was the vital matter of school premises: these were
never to Harveys satisfaction. Despite his alleged toughness, he
saw no particular merit in subjecting his boys to Dickensian physical conditions. From the start, the school was handicapped by its
cramped, hilly, and ancient inner-city site. Games had to be taken
some miles away, in the southwestern suburbs. It took Harvey nine
years to obtain a modest extension to the premises, and a further six
before substantial alterations were completed.76 By 1908 increased
numbersfrom 33 when he became headmaster to 135 or so77were
again putting considerable pressure on resources. At that stage Harvey felt that only a new school building would fit the bill. But the bill,
amounting to some 10,000, was beyond the largesse of even the
relatively rich Protestant elite.78 Management balked, and the failure
of a fund-raising scheme bitterly disappointed Harvey. He resigned
. R. Mansfield, Two Headmasters, The Grammarian 1:2 (1951), 13. With
financial help from the Technical Committee of Cork Corporation in 1902, Cork
Grammar was better equipped in science facilities than such respected schools as The
Kings Hospital in Dublin. See L. Whiteside, A History of The Kings Hospital (Dublin:
The Kings Hospital, 1975), 145; CC, 19 Dec. 1900 (editorial); CC, 20 Dec. 1900
(news item); A.G. Leonard, I remember . . . , The Grammarian 1:3 (1952), 16.
. CC, 24 Dec. 1889; 21 Dec. 1893; 18 Dec. 1895; 23 Dec. 1898; 23 Dec. 1899;
19 Dec. 1901; 22 Dec. 1902. For a description of the school buildings in Sidney
Place, see Reports of [Temporary] Inspectors of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland (Cork Grammar School), 190102, 1903, and 190910 (ASA). These reports are
probably those mentioned as issued to heads of schools in the Report of the Intermediate Education Board for Ireland for theYear 1910 [Cd. 5768], H.C. 1911, xxi, 47, p. x. See
also Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 31.
. The number of 135 appeared in an advertisement for the headmastership in
1908. See Journal of Education (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1908), 30:340. The
advertisement sits among several for English schools.
. An 1908 list of potential subscribers is preserved in the Ashton School Archives. See also the city high sheriffs speech at the 1911 prize-day ceremony (CC, 22
Dec. 1911).
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shortly afterward.79 The school had to wait for nearly another fifty
years finally to leave the city stews.80
Harveys act was a difficult one to follow, and in light of some of
the managers concerns about him, it is perhaps not surprising to find
that the new headmaster was of a different style. The Rev. Edward
SealeTed to his familiarswas an Irishman from County Wicklow. An ex-Scholar of Trinity College, he came to Cork Grammar
from a post as fifth-form master at Highgate School, London. A former pupil described him thus: Seale was of a finer fibre, with handsome features, slightly distorted by pain. . . . Pain in some strange
way had refined his features. It had also left him somewhat short in
temper.81 Under Seale, Cork Grammar moved away from the Irishoriented vocational education espoused by Harvey, though the latters legacy outlasted his term; in the year after his resignation several
pupils distinguished themselves in the Intermediate science examinations. The new head was not stupid: he remained acutely aware of the
necessity to prepare his boys for commercial careers. As he stressed,
For one of our boys who goes to the university, ten go to business.82
Nevertheless, Seale, who had expressed grave misgiving about
coming to the school at all,83 reoriented it toward a more English
public-school ethic and style, without contending for a moment that
the premises and architectural beauty of the Grammar School are
worthy of the third city in Ireland, as he put it in 1911.84 In doing
this, he perforce redirected it not only educationally but also cultur. Harvey took up the rectorship of Charleville in north Cork, where he died
in 1925. He held various curacies in Cork city parishes in tandem with his school appointment.
. The school, under the headmastership of the Rev. G.H.J. Burrows (194770)
and then controlled by the Incorporated Society for Promoting Protestant Schools
in Ireland, acquired Ashton, a large house with spacious grounds on the Blackrock
Road, about a mile from the city center. New additions were built, and the school
finally moved to the new premises in 1956. For financial and architectural details
concerning this period, see the Cork Grammar School Papers (ASA).
. Mansfield, Two Headmasters, 13; G. Inglis, Cork after 41 Years, The
Grammarian 1:8 (1957), 21.
. Three pupils obtained exhibitions in the middle grade, and the Department
of Agriculture and Technical Instruction awarded an increased grant for conspicuous merit (CC, 21 Dec. 1908).
. Prize-day report (CC, 21 Dec. 1908).
. CC, 22 Dec. 1911.


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Cork Grammar School, viewed from the south, ca. 1950

Cork Grammar School (former premises), viewed from the north, 2011

ally. This shift was to have ramifications for adaptability and integration later on. His impact was visible in four areas particularly. The
first concerned the curriculum. Seale, like Harvey, had been taught
as a classicist. But while Harvey had reserved his enthusiasm for
consenting adults, Seale was more evangelical. The study of classics
represented in his view an unrivalled training for the mind. The Intermediate inspectors had noted approvingly in 1909 that the school
is already taking up the study of Greek . . . ; the headmaster intends
to remove the extra fee now put upon instruction in it. And classics,
especially Greek, flourished over the next few years, with several distinctions and prizes won.85
A second area of impact was an offshoot of the first. Seales Hellenophilia encouraged an increased emphasis on fitness and sport.
New sports fields, closer to the school, were made available in 1909.
Hockey was the traditional school game, but Seale introduced a successful swimming club, and also rugby, though with less success. 86 His
attempt to change the supporters shout from an Irish Grammar! to
an English School! was a conspicuous failure.87 Grammar boys did
not tolerate pretension. George Inglis, who came from a West Cork
Protestant lower-middle-class background, recalled being asked on
his first day to sing a few bars of God Save the King for a choir audition. I stood mute, he recalled. Come on, said Mr. Garrett [the
music master], dont you know the tune? That got a laugh, but in fact
that particular tune was never popular in West Cork. . . .88
The third feature of Seales lasting influence concerned order in
the school and the manner of its establishment. In disciplinary matters Seales bias toward a sort of crypto-public-school ethos was evident. Unlike Harvey, who had drained his staff of all authority, Seale
decentralized much of his, though he alone was allowed to administer
the cane. His punishment methodsflogging, followed by impositions and the withdrawal of privilegeswere enforced with mild re. Reports of Inspectors (Cork Grammar School), 190910, 45 (ASA); CC, 23
Dec. 1909, 19 Dec. 1912. For the previous two newspaper references, see Press Cuttings Book [hereafter cited as PCB], 11 (ASA).
. The old sportsgrounds were at Glasheen Road; the new ones were at Sundays Well. For sporting successes (and failures), see CC, 21 Dec. 1908, 23 Dec. 1909;
Mansfield, Two Headmasters, 14.
. Mansfield, Two Headmasters, 14.
. Inglis, Cork after 41 Years, 1415.


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gret, on the basis that young Protestant gentlemen had temporarily

lost their sense of honor and nobility. Harvey, on the other hand, had
treated the children as unreformable young savages.89
Seales fourth innovation had little directly to do with a utilitarian
vision of education per se, but it was another significant marker of the
group psychology of the relatively small and isolated southern Protestant minority in the years before the First World War. Patrick Bucklands era of confident opposition,90 if it ever in fact existed, had
all but vanished by 1908. Long used to the British empire as a place
of employment opportunity, southern Irish Protestants in the years
following the Boer War of 18991902 (the war was indeed a catalyst)
experienced the empire as the collective cultural and emotional peg
on which they could, and did, increasingly hang themselves.91 There
is little surprise in this development. The literary theorist Edward
Saids later argument is appositethat nations are narrations and
that the power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important.92 By 1910 the dominant narrative in southern Ireland, drowning out most others, was built around
various strains of Catholic-based national stories and histories.
Seales response to this sort of cultural dislocation was to look
for other narratives, principally in an imperial context, and one such
was the formation of an Officers Training Corps in the school in the
spring of 1910.93 Essentially for the reserve and territorial divisions
of the army, these OTCs were the product of increasing militarism
after 1900. The commanding officer of the Cork garrison, Major. Mansfield, Two Headmasters, 14; Reports of Inspectors (Cork Grammar
School), 190910, 4 (ASA).
. P. Buckland, Irish Unionism, One: The Anglo-Irish and the New Ireland, 1885
1922 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1972), 1.
. For a fascinating analysis of the imperiophilia to which Irish boysCatholic and Protestantwere exposed in this period, see C. ONeill, The Irish Schoolboy
Novel, ire-Ireland 44:12 (Spring/Summer 2009), 14768.
. E. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage, 1994), xiii.
. PCB, 24 (ASA). For additional information about the OTC, see The Grammarian 1:2 (1912); ibid., 6:24 (1920). The OTC in Cork Grammar School was the
victim of a celebrated raid by the Irish Volunteers on its armory in 1917. The initial
misgivings of the War Office and Dublin Castle were thus not unfounded. See Riobrd
Langford Papers, U/156/3 (Cork City and County Archives, Blackpool, Cork). Langford, a Volunteer officer, personally oversaw the raid, in which forty-seven rifles were
taken from the OTC building.
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General Charles Metcalfe, persuaded the War Office and the Dublin
Castle authorities that it would be safe to allow a Protestant school in
southern Ireland to possess uniforms and guns, with the result that
30 plus a supply of rifles were granted to the school.94 By December 1910 a shed had been provided on the school premises to house
the ordnance and uniforms. The grant of 30 was supplemented by
money from the Cork unionist leader Lord Barrymore and some parents. Apart from regular weekly shooting and marching practice, the
highlight of the year was an eight-day summer camp. In this respect,
then, the OTC mirrored Robert Baden-Powells recently formed Boy
Scout movement, though the OTC was somewhat more militaristic
in tone.95 A parallel Scout troop was also established in Grammar.
Seales only quarrel with it (he called it a mysterious but vigorous
corps) was that its fascinating pursuits tended to make boys unavailable for other school activities.96 The OTC had a golden summer
in 1911. Along with a contingent from Campbell College, the only
other Irish school to possess an OTC, a number of cadets from Cork
Grammar attended the London coronation of George V and later a
rally in Windsor Great Park. In his report on the occasion Seale well
captured the significance of empire as a sort of Protestant national
substitute: They [the cadets] must have felt, as . . . they filed past the
King-Emperor that glowing July afternoon, something of pride and
glory in being active members of a mighty empire, which one day
they may be called upon to defend. . . .97
Harveys resignation from the school had been prompted by a
sense of failure; Seales was occasioned by success. For its size the
school performed spectacularly well in the Intermediate examinations in 1912 and 1913, and in June 1914, just before the outbreak
of a war that would change everything, including Grammar and the
. Irish Times, 14 July 1911.
. CC, 19 Dec. 1910; PCB, 8 (ASA). For instance, on 18 April 1912 the corps
marched from the school to Riverstown, where one section defended it while the
other attacked. See The Grammarian 1:1 (1910), n.p.
. Reports of Inspectors (Cork Grammar School), 190910, 8 (ASA); CC, 23
Dec. 1909; Howard Murphys letter in The Grammarian 1:10 (1959), 7.
. CC, 22 Dec. 1911; PCB, 17 (ASA). The Rev. C.B. Armstrong, headmaster
during the First World War, recollected that the existence of the OTC accelerated the
rush into the forces in 1914. See C.B. Armstrong, Cork Grammar School, 1914
1919, The Grammarian 2:6 (1965), 12.


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community in which it nested, Seale was poached by the more prestigious Kilkenny College.98 Thus ended the significant experiment in
a greater Anglicizing of the school.
What conclusions may we draw from this exercise in microhistory?
At his first prize-giving ceremony Harvey conventionally described
his vision for Cork Grammar as a preparation for life in the world.99
That world, however, as we have seen from the different approaches
taken to Irish Protestant secondary education by Harvey and Seale,
remained contentious. In one sense it could be held that Harvey perhaps did more for the futures of his pupils, Seale more for the pretensions of their parents. In another sense the school embodied a
paradox at its heart: to induce persons who had been sending their
children to England to educate them at home was to equip them
for living and working in the English-speaking empire as much as in
Ireland.100 Working is the critical word here, reflecting a commonality of approach by Irish Protestant and Catholic superior schools to
the idea and purpose of education, seen as essentially utilitarian and
technocratic (even Seale recognized the economic validity of this),
as against the inculcation of gentlemanly manners and mores that
seemed the principal purpose of their English counterparts.101 On
the negative side, however, neither Catholic nor Protestant secondary
schools particularly attacked the already apparent weakness of Irish
educationnamely, an ecclesial and bureaucratic, clerical focus that
came largely at the expense of industry; Joe Lees quip about Irish
students knowing how to properly decline the Latin for table, without
anyone being able to build one, springs to mind. Equally damaging in
a different way, and overriding their common educational aims, was
an increasing divergence between the denominations in interpreting
the concept of Ireland as a cultural identity, evidenced in such critical
spheres as the depiction of history,102 the language, and the compre. Letter of appreciation from Bishop R.T. Hearn of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross to
Rev. Edward Seale, 5 June 1914 (ASA). Seale eventually ended up as headmaster of
Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
. CC, 23 Dec. 1887.
. D. Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster, 16301830 (Cork:
Cork University Press, 2005), 500.
. Flanagan, Rise and Fall of the Celtic Ineligible, 79103.
. As a classic example, see the nationalist, even republican, bias of the Christian Brothers in their Irish History Reader (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1905).
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hension of loyalty, thus portending that uneasiness with the patria

which characterized the southern Irish Protestant condition later and
indeed throughout the twentieth century.
Cork Grammar perhaps offers an example of the ability of urban
southern Irish Protestants to respond to and engage with rising Catholic achievement and concomitant expectation. But if it bears an interpretation of integration, this feature was highly conditionalthat
is, it was designed to ensure that Protestants would retain their economic privileges, not share them. Schools like Cork Grammar may
have provided a sort of social and cultural glue that helped southern Irish Protestants to stick together, but they could be quite selective and elitist even within themselves.103 Ultimately, schools such
as Cork Grammar, firmly anchored to denominational authorities,
demonstrated a longevity and an adaptability that their proprietary
precursors could not possess. And while many icons of Protestant
hegemony, from grand juries to Big Houses, have vanished, Harveys
utilitarian and Seales more cultural entity still has a living and lively
descendent. Cork Grammar School, amalgamated previously with
the High School for Girls in 1920, and with Rochelle School in 1971,
is now (2011) Ashton School, wholly state-funded, and one of those
peculiarly oxymoronic Irish educational constructsa Protestant

. On average, in the years (196066) just before the introduction of free

secondary education in Ireland, 65 percent of Cork Grammar pupils who took the
Intermediate Certificate went on to take the Leaving Certificate. This was a performance only marginally above the national rate. The reasons why greater numbers
of economically advantaged Protestants, relative to the generality of their Catholic
peers, were not continuing to the Leaving Certificate would repay further investigation. The figure for Cork Grammar is derived from following names in lists of Intermediate and Leaving Certificate classes in The Grammarian, 196167. The national
figures for 196163 are available in Investment in Education:Report of the Survey Team
Appointed by the Minister for Education in October 1962 (Dublin: Stationery Office,
1965), 175, Chart 6.8.
. See http://www.ashton.ie.


ire-Ireland 46: 3 & 4 Fall/Win 11

The Early Years of Cork Grammar School