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Castletown School House

Old world exhibit: Map location 13

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Castletown School House, Ulster American Folk Park

This one-room National School was moved from the nearby townland of Castletown. It dates to 1845, although records reveal that there had been a school on the site since the 1790s. Nineteenth century families valued education as much as we do - maybe more. Country children, who might have otherwise worked on the farm, often walked barefoot to school to learn reading, writing and simple arithmetic. On opening, Castletown school had a daily attendance of 70 pupils.

In 1845 the 'Master' at Castletown School was Patrick Mulligan. He taught the older pupils while his daughter Mary helped out with the infants and girls' needlework lessons.

National Schools received government support. They paid teachers’ salaries and provided help for books and other materials for the children. Children learned to read, write and do simple arithmetic using a series of National School readers to work from. Education was not compulsory though because at harvest time many children would be away from school to help their parents.

The school committee involved all the local Churches and classes had both Protestant and Catholic children. During religious instruction, however, the different religions split. Visiting clergymen or the master gave the religious instruction. Churches in Ireland did not like the mixed approach however, and after a time many schools were only attended by one religion.

All teaching was in English. This was welcome in Irish speaking parts of the country. It pleased parents that their children could learn English as it made emigration an easier process.

Look at the high windows. The classroom was set up so that there were few distractions for children. The maps on the walls showed where America was. Many children would emigrate.