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Church, State, and the Control of Schooling in Ireland 1900-1944

Church, State, and the Control of Schooling in Ireland 1900-1944

Copyright Date: 1983
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    Church, State, and the Control of Schooling in Ireland 1900-1944
    Book Description:

    In the final two decades of British rule in Ireland the Roman Catholic Church saw its pre-eminent role in the control of schooling threatened by the secularist and democratic reforms of the imperial administration. Consequently, the Catholic bishops increasingly viewed the success of the nationalist movement as the best guarantee of the continuation of the educational status quo. The nationalist alliance proved a key element in obstructing proposed reforms in the pre-independence period - a period characterized by church-state hostility. In this volume Dr Titley examines the institutional continuity of the Irish school system, focusing on the role of the church as educational power broker. He shows how, in the congenial atmosphere of the new Irish state, the secular and ecclesiastical authorities shared the same educational philosophy and view of the role of religion in the schools. He argues that the church jealously guarded its educational hegemony because of the important role played by the schools in producing candidates for the religious life and an unquestioning middle class. Dr Titley also suggests that the failure of the secularist ideology to make headway in education proves that the Irish revolution was, in reality, a conservative reaction which insulated the country from modernizing influences. This volume is an important contribution to educational theory and to the cultural history of modern Ireland.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8503-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Donald Harman Akenson

    There is a small but honoured niche in Irish historical writing reserved for books that are intentionally and constructively controversial - volumes that in their own time challenged prevailing views and encouraged debate. One thinks of Sean O’Faolain’sKing of the Beggars: A Life of Daniel O’Connell(1938) which revivified the reputation in Irish national historiography of the Liberator and did so without earning the dread epithet “definitive,” a term that is usually applied to books that kill interest in any given historical topic for at least the succeeding generation. And, in our own times, we have in this niche...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    Who determines curriculum content? Who decides which individuals are suitable for membership in the teaching force? Who determines to what extent formal schooling is made available to the general population? These questions address themselves to one central issue - who controls school systems and to what end? It is a question which has increasingly engaged the attention of educationists in recent years, in particular as schools have come to be seen as agencies for the perpetuation of the status quo.

    The historian who examines this question perceives that there have been two principal institutions in the experience of western civilization...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The “Conspiracy” Unfolds
    (pp. 3-31)

    In the early years of the twentieth century rumours began to circulate that the British government planned to reform Irish education to bring it into greater conformity with the system prevailing in England. These rumours owed their origin to statements made by certain government figures, to investigations carried out by English school inspectors, and to agitation by anticlerical propagandists whose opinions were seemingly heeded in high places.

    The specifics of the planned reorganization were never quite clear, but it was believed that they would include the coordination of primary, secondary, and technical instruction and the introduction of some form of...

  6. CHAPTER TWO “An Invidious Distinction”
    (pp. 32-51)

    Augustine Birrell was no doctrinaire anticlerical. In fact, his tolerance of Roman Catholicism was quite remarkable for a man of his background and position. Nevertheless, he was prepared to confront the church, if necessary, in order to bring about educational reforms which he deemed essential. One of the most drawn-out controversies arising from these efforts was that surrounding his attempts to improve the lot of lay teachers in Catholic secondary schools. These efforts required that an official distinction be made between lay and clerical teachers, a concept unacceptable to the church under the circumstances.

    The establishment of the National University...

  7. CHAPTER THREE “In Foreign Fetters”
    (pp. 52-70)

    The British government’s policy of restructuring Irish education, though confined during Birrell’s term of office to piecemeal measures, was never really abandoned. The resignation of the chief secretary in the aftermath of the 1916 Rebellion¹ placed the Irish administration in the hands of less conciliatory men, It opened the door for reforms of a more drastic nature. Predictably enough, the Catholic church was unlikely to acquiesce in changes which threatened its interests. Appeals to national sentiment became increasingly the principal focus of its strategy. British-sponsored reforms would place Irish education “in foreign fetters.” On this occasion the government’s efforts would...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Transition
    (pp. 71-89)

    The period between 1918 and 1922 is an exceedingly complex one in Irish history. It was in these years that the aspirations of the Irish nation were translated into the concrete achievement of an independent state. While the British establishment had acknowledged Ireland’s right to selfgovernment when it passed the Home Rule Act of 1914, the actual powers which were to accrue to the Irish parliament and the extent of its territorial jurisdiction were still subject to modification. In these years of transition, such details were finally worked out. Obviously, educational developments were overshadowed by these larger considerations. Nevertheless, the...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE The New Order
    (pp. 90-100)

    Early in 1923 the men who led the Free State government abandoned the almost mystical designation “Sinn Fein” and formed a new party entitled “Cumann na nGaedheal.”¹ It was under this banner that W.T. Cosgrave led the country until his electoral defeat in 1932. His title under the constitution was “President of the Executive Council” and his original cabinet comprised the following: Kevin O’Higgins, home affairs and vicepresident; Ernest Blythe, finance; Joseph McGrath, industry and commerce; Eoin MacNeill, education; Desmond Fitzgerald, external affairs; Richard Mulcahy, defence; Patrick Hogan, agriculture; Finian Lynch, initially without portfolio.² They had much in common.


  10. CHAPTER SIX “No Ground for Complaint”
    (pp. 101-125)

    If the advent of the Free State government caused any ripples of apprehension in ecclesiastical circles regarding educational change, they were soon dissipated by the congenial attitude of the education minister, Eoin MacNeill. Among his first acts of office was an announcement which must have caused profound satisfaction to the church. In the Dail session of 26 September 1922 he confirmed the rumour that Marlborough Street Teacher Training College was to be closed and its students transferred to the denominational colleges.¹ Marlborough Street was a nondenominational institution established under the patronage of the National Board as part of its much-maligned...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN “Hand in Hand”
    (pp. 126-141)

    Eamonn de Valera, who led his Fianna Fail party to victory in the general election of 1932, was to dominate Irish political life for many decades. As one of the few surviving leaders of the 1916 rebellion, he was held in special awe by the Irish public. This, combined with the almost dictatorial power he wielded over his party,¹ meant that his ideas would greatly influence the direction Irish society would take during his years of hegemony. However, he was not one to question the role of the church in education, and consequently church and state would be able to...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Analysis and Conclusion
    (pp. 142-162)

    The Roman Catholic church is an institution composed of both laity and clergy in which decision making is concentrated in the hands of the latter. The relationship between these two groupings is by definition a paternalistic one for the clergy purport to teach a body of divinely revealed truths and dispense spiritual favours to a laity which otherwise would be deprived of such essentials. In the hierarchical power structure of the church the laity constitute a kind of disfranchised mass. Theological suppositions are not the product of consensus opinion, but of revelation which comes down through the clerical hierarchy. In...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 163-190)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 191-198)
  15. Index
    (pp. 199-212)