In 1668 George Fox wrote “I established a school for teaching boys and ordered a women’s school to be set up to instruct young lasses and maidens in whatsoever things were civil and useful in the creation”. Girls schools as well as boys schools – that was unusual 338 years ago! In Ireland as a whole there are currently 4 schools all co-educational. Added together these schools currently have about 1,900 pupils. This compares with a total membership of the Religious Society of Friends in Ireland of about 1,600, and shows the importance given by Quakers to education.
Irish Quakers and Schools
- Friends’ School Lisburn
- Newtown School Waterford
- Drogheda Grammar School
- Rathgar Junior School.
The schools place emphasis on developing well rounded individuals by providing a wide range of extra curricular activities, sport and outdoor pursuits, in a caring and supportive atmosphere. Particular importance is placed on a lively respect for others, good personal relationships, and a sense of responsibility to the world where we live and the people in it. Pupils are encourage to fulfill their potential both academically and in extracurricular activities. The hope is that when students leave school they will be mature, responsible and confident – “the best type of Irish men and women” to quote Arnold Marsh.
Friends School Lisburn
Friends’ School Lisburn www.friendsschoollisburn.org.uk
Friends School Lisburn had its beginnings in 1774. Originally a boarding school, it is now a day school with 970 pupils aged 11-18 years and 160 Preparatory pupils 4 -11 years. As with all our schools, the majority of pupils are not Friends. There is a broad spectrum of denominations and religious beliefs. Friends’ School Lisburn has a strong academic focus and a rich programme of extra curricular activities, including a wide range of sports, many clubs and societies and community service.
Newtown School Waterford
Newtown School Waterford www.newtownschool.ie
Newtown School was founded in 1798 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). The ideals of its founders still inspire the School which today educates boys and girls for life in the 21st century.
Newtown School welcomes boarding and day students of all religious persuasions, and appreciates the contribution of all denominations to the school community. The school aims to foster a sense of caring for others and to communicate a set of values which reflects a balance between the material and the spiritual.
In keeping with the Quaker tradition every individual is of value and has something to contribute.
In a rapidly changing world, education must concern itself more and more with the calibre of student it produces as much as with the courses to be studied. Adaptability, confidence, the courage to make changes where they are necessary and, above all, the ability to get on with other people are amongst the qualities that Newtown School promotes through a sound liberal education for life.
Newtown Junior School effectively separated from Newtown School above in September 2007 when it joined the National School system, and became the first Quaker National School in Ireland.
Drogheda Grammar School
Drogheda Grammar School www.droghedagrammarschool.ie
Drogheda Grammar School was founded under Royal charter in 1669 by Erasmus Smith and is one of the oldest secondary schools in Ireland, now enjoying its fourth century of continuous educational service to the community. Originally a boys’ boarding school, it has now been a co-educational boarding and day school for over fifty years. The Trustees today include members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Board of Management includes parents and teachers. Until 1976, the school was located in Drogheda town centre, beside St. Laurence’s Gate, but now enjoys a twenty two acre rural setting just three kilometres outside the town, along the south bank of the River Boyne. The campus consists of a beautiful Regency House flanked by woodland, with modern classroom and dormitory buildings and extensive playing fields to its rear. There are over 200 pupils.The School was near closure in 1956 when, Arnold Marsh suggested that the Society of Friends should take it under their care, as he felt it would be a pity for a school with such a long and rich tradition to be closed.
There is now also an “Educate Together” Le Cheile junior school on the same premises with a current enrolment of 250 children.
Rathgar Junior School Dublin
The school was founded in 1919 by M. Isabel Douglas and is managed by a committee of members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and interested parents.
It is, based on forward-thinking primary school teaching methods in a caring atmosphere.
It is situated south of the city between Rathmines and Rathgar in Dublin 6 and is convenient to many bus routes. Rathgar Junior School is a member of the Association of Independent Junior Schools. Pupils take part in various inter-school events such as Art, Poetry, Creative Writing and Drama Workshops, Quizzes, Table Tennis, Hockey, Swimming, Tennis, Basketball, Soccer and Choral activities, as well as the shared inter-schools service. There are 165 pupils.
Arnold Marsh, Irish Quaker Educator 1890-1972
Former principal of Newtown School Waterford and subsequently Drogheda Grammar School.
Former Quaker Schools
Ballitore is the most celebrated Irish Quaker School of former days. It was founded in 1726 by Abraham Shackleton and continued in existence until 1847. There were also Quaker schools at Edenderry, Mountmellick, Clonmel (Suir Island) and Brookfield near Lisburn.