Soup Kitchens and Soup Schools
By Mary Kyne
The success of the soup schools depended on the funds raised by the Irish Church Mission society. £23,000 was raised between 1849 and 1857according to a report published by 14 Exeter Hall, London, head quarters of the Mission. The wealthy women of Dublin also raised extra funds. The editor of the “Nation” maintained that £1,000,000 was spent annually by the society around the country. In 1845 alone, money was spent issuing 83,225 posters, 972,980 small posters, 1,096,013 pamphlets and a large number of periodicals. These were distributed to every household. Money was also used to pay the teachers who were paid according to the number attending the schools. Their salary also depended on the knowledge their pupils had of Bible matters!! The children attending school were given meal, soup and often money.
Schools of the Oughterard Area
Dallas referred to his school at New Village as “ Teach na mBeannachtaí” (House of Blessings) but the locals christened it “Teach na Mallachtaí” (House of Curses). It was opened in 1851. Colonel Lewis who gave the site and a landlord named Plunket were present. Six teachers taught there.
According to Griffith’s valuation there was a rent of £6 on this building. The ruins of this building can be seen to day on the forestry road below Butler’s residence, Hill of Doon, Glann.
The Lodge at Glengowla
The Lodge at Glengowla was built by the O fflaherties. This was originally a single storied building with a slate roof, according to the late Mrs. Kathleen Maloney, a descendant of the O fflaherties. It was later enlarged by her uncle. This school was run by the “Weslayan Methodist Church” which was under the patronage if the “ Irish Baptist Society” in the later part of the eighteen century. The objective of the teacher of the school was the pupils of the school would be able to understand and read the “Reformed Bible”. Alexander Nimmo ( principal engineer who planned the roads and bridges of Connemara under the authority of the landlords of the area, The Martins) had a different notion of the school. He maintained that the people of the area were interested in acquiring the art of reading in order to enable them to read their wage cheques which they received for building the road to Clifden. At the time false cheques were passed to the illiterate.
Mission House, Main Street, Oughterard.
There was a Mission House on the main street of Oughterard where the old Post Office building, adjacent to the present day Post Office is to day. This was a lodging house and there was a similar one in Rosscahill, (large two story house) where the parish priest resided in years gone by.
There was also a school at Clare opposite “Clareville House” which was once known as Clarendon House. It is said that a catholic school stood close by in 1846. I do not know the site of these buildings.
1847 Captain Blake erected a Soup Kitchen at Maam Cross. Edwin Moore, a rector from Cong, was put in charge of this school. The Lyons family had a small school at Bunakil, Maam Cross.
Ballygally Soup House, Glann
This building in now occupied by Mick O Halloran, son of Tommy O Halloran, R.I.P. The Mulkerrins family occupied it during famine times.
The Kirk ( site of the Community Center) which was built by Mrs. Maloney’s great grandmother, Rebecca O fflahertie, who was an ultra Protestant lady. Rebecca considered that the Protestant Church of Ireland was not Protestant enough for her so she set up the Kirk (Scottish name for church) as a Plymoth Brethern meeting house. Only a few of her friends attended the Church and soon it wasn’t used at all. Rebecca was married to George Fortescue O fflahertie. The first teachers of these schools were trained under Mrs. Blake at Castlekerke.