Old School Seat from Kilmurry Boys National School
An application for “Kilmurry School, Barony of West Muskerry, Townland of Ballymichael”, was made by Rev. Jas. Daly PP Kilmurry, dated 31st July 1849. Among the many queries to be answered on the application form to the Board of Commissioners was, “when was the existing school established?”- The answer given was, “ten years ago in the adjacent building”.
That being so there was a school in Kilmurry in 1839, adjacent to the site that Independence Museum Kilmurry now occupies.
Before the introduction of National Schools into Ireland in 1831, many private schools or hedge schools operated throughout the country but children had to pay to attend. The school in Kilmurry fell into that category; privately owned and run by the teacher Mr. Tim Sheehan. In the absence of a suitable site in which to build a new National School a case would have to be made for housing the new Kilmurry National School in the aforementioned building. At stake was the two third funding by the British Government of the project which would fund the teacher’s salary and ensure free education for the local children.
The parish priest of Kilmurry at that time was Rev. James Daly and he was hopeful that the Education Commission would look favourably upon the situation in the village. In his application to the Education Commission he pointed out that the building in which the school would be housed was neat, comfortable and nearly new; “Measuring 27 Ft. by 13 Ft. it is well lit, furnished with 7 desks and 14 forums (seats).”
The likelihood that the forum (bench) on display in Independence Museum Kilmurry is one of those original benches that survived the transition to a new building when a new Boys National School and a new Girls National School opened a hundred yards further up the village in 1862.
Given that these momentous developments happened at a time when the village and people were still suffering from the fallout of the Great Famine, it is a testament to the determination and desire of both PP Canon Daly and Headmaster Tim Sheehan that the present and future children of the area should not want for education opportunity.
This seat is a reminder of that legacy.