| Meagher was sent, first, to the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College in Co.
Kildare. Truly, it could be said of Clongowes that it was just the
Catholic version of the then new system of national education.
This system was run by Protestant commissioners and its function was to
deflect the schoolchildren from an adherence to their native country -
Ireland. The children were taught nothing of the history of
Ireland and, indeed, the following verse was prominently displayed on
school walls for the instruction and edification of the pupils.
|I thank the goodness
and the grace
|That on my birth
|And made me in these
Meagher wrote, in disparaging terms,
of his education
in Clongowes, although he loved the college. He wrote
to us about Mount Olympus and the Vale of Tempe; they birched us into a
flippant acquaintance with the disreputable gods and goddesses of the
golden and the heroic ages; they entangled us in Euclid; turned our
brains with the terrestrial globe; chilled our blood in chilly
excursions through the Milky Way; paralysed our Lilliputian loins with
the shaggy spoils of Hercules, bewildered us with the Battle of the
Frogs and Mice, pitched us precipitately into England amongst the
impetuous Normans and stupid Saxons; gave us a look, through an
interminable telescope, at what was doing in the New World; but as far
as Ireland was concerned, they left us, like blind and crippled
children, in the dark.
spoke of Ireland. Never gave us, even what is left of it, her
history to read. Never quickened the young bright life they
controlled, into lofty conceptions and prayers by a reference to the
martytdoms, the wrongs, the soldiership, the statesmanship, the
magnificent memories, and illuminating hopes of the poor old land.
All this was then
to me a cloud. Now I look back to it, shake my hand against it,
and say it was a curse.
"Memoirs of Gen.
Thomas Francis Meagher"
by Michael Cavanagh, The Messenger
Press, (1892), Worcester, Mass., USA, P.23