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Education in Pairc
Education in Pairc
Angus Macleod, Calbost and Marybank, on education in the district.
Gaelic was the first, and indeed the only language in Park. There was no formal schooling available in any language. In 1796 a small English thatched Parish School was opened in the parish church at Keose, but it was too far for the children of Calbost and the other villages of Park for them to benefit in any way.
It was not until the society for the support of Gaelic schools formed in Edinburgh in 1811 that real progress was achieved in educating the people of Park and Lewis through the medium of Gaelic instruction. Even then the Gaelic voluntary schools did not reach Park until the 1820's. Thatched schools were opened at Gravir in 1822, Marvig in 1828, Loch Shell 1828 and Cromore in 1829. The statistical account of 1833 tell us that there were only 12 people in Lochs at that time who could write and we may be sure that these twelve were connected with the manse and the Tacks.
The bible was the main textbook in the Gaelic schools and the teachers were chosen for their piety. In that way these schools were not only educational, they were religious and character forming. Adults attended as well as children and there was a magnificent response as the people had the opportunity for the first time to read the scriptures in their own tongue. In that was the truth dispelled the superstitions the people lived in and influenced the minds and outlook of the people.
Some at least of these Gaelic schools were circulatory. They went from village to village staying for at least a year but usually more. It was a circulatory Gaelic school that was at Calbost and the walls of the old school building, which was also a village prayer house may still be seen below the side road leading to crofts 8 & 9 on the boundary between crofts 6 & 8.
It was the Gaelic teachers that pioneered the Sunday School movement in Lewis, but the origin of movement is much older and can be traced to Robert Roukes in Gloucester, England. Sunday Schools are still a feature of our culture.
It was the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872 that laid the foundation of a national system of education and the people of Lewis responded well to the new educational opportunities. Planasker School, Marvig, served the two villages of Marvig and Calbost. When it was opened on 16th August 1880 the total roll for the first day was 30 pupils and on the second day the roll had increased to 47 pupils. It went on to exceed 100 pupils at its peak. It closed in 1973 and the pupils were transferred to a new Park School at Gravir.
Angus Macleod Archive
See also Angus Macleod's further notes on the subject.