Erasmus Smith Schoolhouse

The parochial schoolhouse, for an unlimited number of children of all religions, was completed in 1818. The total building costs came to 1.034. Of this, 600 was provided by the Erasmus Smith Trust and the balance paid by the Earl of Glengall. The Earl commissioned Royal Architect, John Nash to design both the schoolhouse and adjacent Parish Church, one to complement the other, The school is of hewn limestone, with very ornate embrasures and pinnacles, Each gable contains a large blind gothic window. The central part (teacher’s residence) consists of three floors and is flanked on either side by two large classrooms. In the First Report of the Commissioners of Education (1824), it was noted that the school at Cahir was the most costly in all of County Tipperary, in terms of construction costs, but was "in very excellent condition". The teachers, William & Mary Wilde, were a married couple, as was quite common into the early years of the twentieth century. In I824, the teachers were entitled to a combined salary of 60 per annum, as well as a house, garden and two acres of land, making it one of the better endowed schools of its class in Ireland. In that year, the school contained 131 children, of which 90 were Roman Catholic, and 41 of the Established Church. Numbers continued to grow rapidly, despite the fact that the school was one of eight primary schools in Cahir and district, and two extra classrooms were needed by the 1830s. These were constructed to the rear of the building. However, with the foundation of the National School System in the 1830s, and its continued strengthening in the following years, the result by mid-century was that almost all Roman Catholic pupils were siphoned away from Established Church managed schools, even those with an inter-denominational ethos as at Cahir.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the building became the National School of Cahir and remained so until 1963. The building was subsequently used as a sawmill and steelworks and fell into disrepair. It was thoroughly renovated in the late 1980s, and has since seen use as a museum and as a school.