Description of a bardic school

Published in 18th-19th Century Social Perspectives, 18th–19th - Century History, Features, Issue 3 (May/June 2010), Volume 18

Irish lawyer Thomas O’Sullivan wrote this description of a bardic school in a preface to the Marquis of Clanricarde’s memoirs (London, 1722):

‘The students upon thorough examination being first divided into classes, wherein a regard was had to every one’s age, genius, and the schooling had before, if any at all, or otherwise. The professors (one or more as there was occasion) gave a subject suitable to the capacity of each class, determining the number of rhimes, and clearing what was to be chiefly observed therein as to syllables, quartans, concord, correspondence, termination and union, each of which were restrain’d by peculiar rules. The said subject (either one or more as aforesaid) having been given over night, they work’d it apart each by himself upon his own bed, the whole next day in the dark, till at a certain hour in the night, lights being brought in, they committed it to writing. Being afterwards dress’d and come together into a large room, where the masters waited, each scholar gave in his performance, which being corrected or approv’d of (according as it requir’d) either the same or fresh subjects were given against the next day.’


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