The Christian Brothers’ School

The place of the week, the Christian Brothers’ School, appears as a direct reference in “Araby” and “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” and indirectly in “An Encounter.” The school referenced in Araby” is O’Connell School, which was established in 1829 in North Richmond Street. It is one of several Christian Brothers’ Schools established worldwide in the nineteenth century and the oldest in Dublin. But this school’s location is expressly noted in the opening sentence of the story:

“NORTH RICHMOND STREET being blind, was a quiet street except at the hour when the Christian Brothers’ School set the boys free” (29);

The reference to the Christian Brothers’ School in “Ivy Day” is a bit more vague:

“–Ah, yes, he said, continuing, it’s hard to know what way to bring up children. Now who’d think he’d turn out like that! I sent him to
the Christian Brothers and I done what I could him, and there he goes boosing about. I tried to make him someway decent” (119) .

The location of the school is not specified; it could be any number of Christian Brothers’ Schools (CBSs) in Dublin at the time. In addition to the school in Richmond Street, CBSs were located in Synge Street and Westland Row. (These two in particular were popularized by Flann O’Brien’s satiric Bildungsroman A Hard Life: An Exegesis of Squalor.) The frame below shows a section of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction’s Annual General Report of the Department, Volume 7, Parts 1906-1907, which lists some of these schools as “not being national schools, in which instruction in drawing and manual work is recognised for grant by the department.”

The narrator of “An Encounter,” of course, is quick to point out that he and his companion are “not national schoolboys to be whipped,” (27) implying that they are, instead, students of a CBS, and most likely, based on other geographical references in the story, the one in North Richmond Street. Joyce and his brother Stanislaus even attended this particular school for a just a few months in 1893 before they were admitted to Belvedere for free by a sympathetic Father Conmee (Bowker 43).

The school, pictured below, remains locally known as “the working man’s Belvedere.”

The O'Connell Christian Brothers' School located in North Richmond Street as seen from above via Google Maps, 2013.
The O’Connell Christian Brothers’ School located in North Richmond Street as seen from above via Google Maps, 2013.

Author: Jasmine Mulliken

Jasmine Mulliken is Digital Production Associate at Stanford University Press. Prior to that she spent five years as Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Oklahoma State University. She has a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and specializes in 20th-Century British Literature, Digital Humanities, and Digital Literacies.

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