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New Exhibition: Kildare Place Society & Schooling in the Nineteenth Century

National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History: Ruairi Quinn, T.D., Minister for Education and Skills will officially open a new exhibition titled Kildare Place Society & Schooling in the Nineteenth Century, on Thursday the 20th September at 6.00p.m. at the National Museum of Ireland – Collins Barracks, Dublin 7.

The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in Ireland, known as the Kildare Place Society, was founded in Dublin in 1811 with the aim of providing non-denominational education. The Society’s pioneering work included the building of schools, teacher training, the publication of an extensive library of reading books and the establishment of an inspectorate to monitor schools. The Society received a parliamentary grant until 1831, but this ceased with the advent of the Irish National School system. The Society’s influence on teaching was significant and many of its innovations influenced the National School system.

In 1855 the Kildare Place Model Schools were taken over by the Church Education Society and in 1884 became the Church of Ireland Training College for primary school teachers. In 1968 the college moved to its present location in Rathmines, where the Church of Ireland College of Education continues to educate national school teachers for primary schools under Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist and Society of Friends patronage.

Last year the College celebrated the bicentenary of the founding of the Kildare Place Society. The Plunket Museum in the grounds of the College houses a schoolroom from 1901 and charts the history of education from pre-Christian times to the present. Many primary school children come to the museum to experience lessons in the classroom. The College also has extensive archives that are rich in the history of the Kildare Place Society and education in general.

Opening the exhibition, Minister Quinn said, “I am delighted to be involved with the opening of this fascinating exhibition which gives such an insight into the influential work of the Kildare Place Society and education in general during the 1800s. It is also intriguing to note the emphasis the society placed on improving literacy, a goal which I share with them today.”

The CICE Plunket Museum of Irish Education Committee commented - ‘We are very pleased that education artefacts from the CICE Plunket Museum of the nineteenth century classroom such as a dual desk, slates, dip pens, inkwells, copy book headlines, needlework samplers and an 1820 illustrated teaching scroll on rollers, will be on display to a wide audience in the National Museum'.

Dr Audrey Whitty, Curator of the exhibition commented - ‘Along with the non-denominational remit of the Kildare Place Society, another major aim was to improve literacy through the provision of suitable reading textbooks. Both The Dublin Spelling Book and The Dublin Reading Book were first produced in tablet or chart form by the Society for teaching purposes, and converted into books in 1819 and 1822, respectively.

The National Museum of Ireland acknowledges with grateful thanks the sponsorship and assistance of the following; the Board of Governors of CICE, Ecclesiastical Insurance, the Church Education Society, Poetry Ireland and UNESCO.

This new exhibition opens to the public on Friday 21st September 2012.

Notes to the Editor:

• Many intriguing objects associated with 19th century education in Ireland will be exhibited.

• All the exhibits are from the CICE Archives and the CICE Museum (the Plunket Museum), both located at the College in Rathmines. The exhibits include education-related items, such as copy headlines, monitor’s badges, inkwells, attendance boards, school desks, etc., all used or displayed in a classroom. Other exhibits include samples of needlework from the Kildare Place Society training college, the Darton Scroll– it is an early visual teaching aid consisting of a long strip of calico carrying written text and visual hand-painted images; this was gradually unrolled to the excitement of the watching pupils as a lesson progressed), and books from the 1820s printed by the Kildare Place Society (including ‘The Schoolmaster’s Manual’ from 1825, which gave advice to schoolmasters on everything to do with setting up a school including ventilation!).

• The exhibit is being curated by Dr Audrey Whitty from the National Museum of Ireland. The panels, etc. have been written by the Museum Committee at CICE which includes – Dr Susan Parkes, Prof John Coolahan, Prof Aine Hyland, Dr Kenneth Milne, Geraldine O’Connor, Valerie Coghlan and Gillian Beckett.

• The exhibition will run until the end of June 2013


Maureen Gaule, Marketing Executive, Marketing Department – National Museum of Ireland

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The National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays. ADMISSION is FREE OF CHARGE

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