The Roman Catholic Free School

It would appear from a reference in Pigot's Directory of 1824 that this school was founded in or about 1820. the original site is unknown but in 1826 the house at Old Ballygaddy Road which we now know as 'Prospect' was erected as a Free School at a cost of 600 which was subscribed locally. The following extract from The Tuam Herald of the 27th October, 1838, contains a certain amount of information about the institution:-

"Tuam Roman Catholic Free School (Late National). This school our readers are aware of was first established by the late Roman Catholic Archbishop, in the year 1826, and has since been efficiently supported by the contributions of the benevolent of this town and neighbourhood, until within the last few years when it, unhappily, came under the jurisdiction of the Commissioners of Education. Subscriptions were then generally, withdrawn, we cannot say whether it was that the public disapproved of the connection, or that they were under the impression that ample funds were provided by Parliament for the support of such institutions. It was to be expected that the Commissioners would entertain favourably any appeal on behalf of the establishment, from the circumstance of its having been founded and maintained for a number of years, solely by voluntary contributions and of a school house having been erected at an expenditure of upwards of 600, besides that it affords daily gratuitous instruction to upwards of 340 children for whose education three masters of considerable literary acquirements and of high moral and religious character are employed, yet, strange to say notwithstanding many applications, the Board have given only the small annual grant of 15. The Tuam Free School is no longer a National School, the Commissioners having accompanied the grant with conditions which could not be complied with, being incompatible with the directions of the Ordinary. The paltry sum of 15 has proved quite inadequate to the payment of rent, salaries, school requisites and incidental expenses and it is therefore the duty of the public and particularly the original subscribers to meet and co-operate to prevent this institution from falling, and to enable it to continue the blessings it affords by diffusing useful, moral, and religious instruction among the rising generation".

The same edition of the Tuam Herald published a copy of the lengthy letter from Dr. McHale to Lord John Russell, written from Achill Island and dated "The Feast of the Dedication of the Church of Ireland". In the course of this letter His Grace wrote: ".... Yet despite those resolutions, founded on the fairest principals of religion and of reason and published tot eh world, The National Board have, in the plenitude of their arbitrary authority, sent us a Protestant Inspector in a Diocese where scarcely any Protestants attend the schools. The master in Tuam, in Westport and in all the districts where my instructions reach them in time, refused him admittance. The Commissioners have since expended a good deal of stationary in insisting on the dismissal of those contumacious masters".

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