House of Charity Industrial School, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Republic of Ireland
The House of Charity Industrial School for Roman Catholic Boys and Girls, was opened at Drogheda in 1870 by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul. Its intake was restricted to junior children, generally aged six or seven at their time of admission. The School stood at the west side of the Sisters' convent on Fair Street, Drogheda, and was formally certified to begin operation on 17 October 1870. The premises included an infant school which was operated in under the supervision the Commissioners of National Education and also open to young boys from the town of Drogheda.
In 1871, there was an outbreak of smallpox at the institution and one boy died.
In 1872, a new school-room and dormitory were erected. An inspection that year noted that the industrial training; of the boys was inadequate. Shoemaking, tailoring and carpentering were taught to a few boys, but workshops are much required. The girls were taught needlework, the use of the sewing-machine, and dressmaking; they cooked, washed, and learned household duties. Mrs Clare Boylan was superintendent of the School.
The report for 1873 recorded that the girls were instructed in dressmaking, sewing, and machine work, crochet, knitting, and to wash and to make up fine linen. They also cooked and performed household duties, and were entrusted with the handling of money. The boys were taught tailoring and needlework, the use of the sewing-machine, and knitting. They were also employed at wood-chopping, house and garden work. An agreement had been made with the Industrial School at Artane to transfer the boys there at around the age of nine or ten.
At the start of 1876, the School became a boys-only establishment, with the girls then in residence being transferred to the St John's Industrial School at Parsonstown. At the same time, Parsonstown became a girls-only institution, transferring its female inmates to Drogheda. Drogheda continued to receive only young boys and acting as a preparatory establishment for Artane. Mrs Frances Austin was now superintendent.
In 1879, there was an outbreak of measles at the School with ten of the boys affected. In the same year, two of the Sisters died, apparently from overcrowding during an outbreak of scarlatina. In the same year, a new infant National School building was erected.
An inspection in 1880 criticized the industrial training being provided at the School. This was attributed to the fact that the two Sisters who had died the previous year had not been replaced and the remaining staff were not sufficient to do carry out all the duties required of them. During the year, a hospital isolated from the School had been fitted up. The inspector criticized the location of the boys' refectory, which which was in an underground basement. He also recommended that a proper play-hall be provided. Outbreaks of measles and scarlatina during the year resulted in the deaths if six boys. The boys' industrial training now included fretwork. the items made included book stands, letter racks, photograph frames, and brackets, which found a ready sale amongst the visitors. Drawing was also taught. A mark system was was now in operation, with good conduct earning rewards and privileges. The staff at this date comprised Frances Austin, seven Sisters of Charity, two matrons, a cook, laundress, tailor, and gardener.
In 1885, a new school-room and dormitory measuring forty feet by thirty feet were erected. Another was planned to contain a wash-house, bath-rooms, lavatories, ironing-rooms, etc. Industrial training now included mat-making and slipper-making. A greenhouse had been erected.
By 1898, Mrs Clare Redman had taken over as superintendent.
The School site in the early 1900s is shown on the map below.
In around 1972, the School was redesignated as a Residential Home.
In 2014, the former School building was standing empty. The adjacent convent had been converted to flats.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Daughters Of Charity Of St Vincent De Paul, Provincial House, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1RE. (Archivist: Sister Bernadette Ryder DC)
- Barnardo's Origins Tracing Service — for people (and their families) who spent all or part of their childhood in an Irish Industrial School and are interested in tracing information about their parents, siblings or other relatives.
- Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers 1828-1912 (available online to subscribers of findmypast.co.uk) include details of committals to Irish Reformatories and Industrial Schools.
- Arnold, Mavis, and Laskey, Heather Children of the Poor Clares (2004, Appletree Press)
- Barnes, Jane Irish Industrial Schools 1868-1908 (1989, Irish Academic Press)
- Dunne, Joe The Stolen Child: A Memoir (2003, Marion Books)
- Rafferty, Mary and O'Sullivan, Eoin Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools (1999, New Island Books)
- Touher, Patrick Fear of the Collar: Artane Industrial School — My Extraordinary Childhood (1991, O'Brien Press)
- Tyrrell, Peter and Whelan, Diarmuid Founded on Fear: Letterfrack Industrial School (2006, Irish Academic Press)
- Wall, Tom The Boy from Glin Industrial School (2015, Tom Wall)
- Higginbotham, Peter Children's Homes: A History of Institutional Care for Britain s Young (2017, Pen & Sword)
- Mahood, Linda Policing Gender, Class and Family: Britain, 1850-1940 (1995, Univeristy of Alberta Press)
- Prahms, Wendy Newcastle Ragged and Industrial School (2006, The History Press)
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