Visit to a National School

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter V (18) | Start of Chapter

The generation that is passing away have but little education; many of them cannot read, but the children are rapidly advancing. The national schools are doing much good. One which I visited in Urlingford gave the best specimen of reading I ever heard in any country. A class of boys read a chapter on the nature of the atmosphere; the teacher then requested them to give a specimen of synonymous reading. This was readily done, by dropping every noun, in the course of the lesson, and giving a corresponding one of the same import. It was so happily executed, that the listener would not imagine but the word was read out of the book. I was handed a book, and was requested to select a chapter where I pleased. I did so, and in no case did a pupil hesitate to read fluently. Their specimens of writing were praiseworthy, and their knowledge of arithmetic in all the schools is beyond what I could expect.

Ireland’s Welome to the Stranger is one of the best accounts of Irish social conditions, customs, quirks and habits that you could wish for. The author, Mrs Asenath Nicholson, was an American widow who travelled extensively in Ireland on the eve of the Great Famine and meticulously observed the Irish peasantry at work and play, as well as noting their living conditions and diet. The book is also available from Kindle.