Ennis Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls, Ennis, Co. Clare, Republic of Ireland
The Ennis Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls was erected in 1875 at a cost of £4,500. However, it was not until 28 February 1880 that the premises, at Cook's Lane, Ennis, were officially certified for use . The School's capacity was initially set at 40 places but later the same year was increased to 80, with extensive building work being carried out to accommodate that number, including the provision of a dairy. The establishment was run by the Sisters of Mercy. As well as the Sisters' convent, the site also included St Brigid's Home Laundry and Our Lady's School Orphanage.
An inspection of the Industrial School in 1880 noted that dressmaking and other branches of needlework were taught. The girls cut out and made all the clothes they wore, and used the sewing machine. They washed and made up fine linen, and the older girls washed, dressed, and cared for the younger inmates. The staff comprised the manager, Sister M.J. Perry, and nine Sisters of Mercy, assisted by a dressmaker and three monitresses.
By 1881, the School's facilities included a bakehouse and a swimming bath with hot and cold water, adjoining the laundry. It was reported that once the swimming bath had come into use, skin diseases altogether disappeared from the inmates and the improvement in the health of the girls was most remarkable.
The School site is shown on the early 1900s map below.
A 1913 inspection recorded the manager as Mrs Mary C. Kelly, assisted by seven Sisters of Mercy, two school teachers, a cook, laundress, dressmaker, and four monitresses. In class, the girls' performance in singing, recitation, drawing, geography, grammar and composition as 'good', while mental arithmetic was only 'fair' in Standard II, but 'good' in others. There had been marked improvement in sewing, knitting and dressmaking. Cookery was good. Housewifery had been improved, and was very good on the whole. Laundry work was confined to classes, the school work being done by paid workers. There had been thirty cases of measles, which was prevalent in the town. All the cases had been removed to hospital, and no death had occurred. A dentist visited the school at regular intervals. Of eight girls discharged during the year, two had gained employment as housemaids, two as cooks, one as a general servant, one as a laundrymaid, one as dressmaker, and one was employed in a factory.
The School closed in 1964. The Clare Museum now occupies the former convent block but little remains of the other buildings.
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.
- Mercy Congregational Archives, Catherine McAuley Centre, 23 Herbert Street, Dublin 2, D02 HD68, Ireland.
- 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)
Except where indicated, this page () © Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.