29 Jun 2012
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town, 28 June 2012
Kieran’s Our City, Our Town Article,
Cork Independent, 28 June 2012
Technical Memories (Part 22)
Ideas, Innovation and Invention
Dr. Alfred Leonard’s position as head chemistry teacher at the Crawford Municipal Technical Institute from 1912-1916 resulted in a number of chemistry courses being created. In October 1913, a call appeared in the Cork Examiner for an assistant teacher of experimental science with a salary of 7 shillings per evening. In October 1914, a lab assistant was sought for 2-3 evenings per week with efficiency in handling chemical and physical apparatus plus for someone who had passed exams in chemistry. In the same month, a chemistry teacher was sought, one evening per week, 5 shillings per hour and qualified in organic and inorganic chemistry. In 1916, a lecturer in chemistry was sought with a salary package of between £200 and £250 per annum.
The expansion of courses in chemistry and others was due to the fact that the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction had a programme of Technical School Examinations extending over four years in a limited number of subjects. The Department’s journals from the 1910s shed light on their examinations in commerce, building trades, applied chemistry, mechanical engineering, domestic economy, and art. By 1913, schemes of technical instruction were in operation in all counties in Ireland and in 91 of the 96 urban districts throughout the country. Almost 2,000 students took the new Irish examination system. The Crawford Municipal Technical Institute was part of the wider cogwheel of Irish technical education. They had exams in the Department’s subjects and also developed other courses of public interest. Indeed many of the courses developed in these early days were kept, expanded upon and brought up todate as the decades went on. There was also an emphasis that a job could be forged after taking a course and passing your examinations.
In addition, the decade from 1910 to 1919 was notable for many scientific discoveries that would lead to amazing technological advancements and innovations later in the century.. The automobile assembly line, new atomic theories, Einstein’s general theory of relativity, advances in radio technology, and continuing developments in the social sciences were among the many scientific and technological advances of the 1910s. New inventions made life less difficult and more comfortable for people. Many new products found their way into homes, factories, farms, and hospitals. The decade, however, also coincided with the devastation of World War I. From 1914 to 1918 the Great War showed that technological advancements could have horrible consequences in war. The first extensive use of submarines in sea battle, the invention of the tank, and the toll of the machine gun each played its part in the maiming and killing of millions.
So perhaps when thinking for example of the work of the instructor in physics and experimental science was taught by P.J. Regan B.Sc., one can also think of the interesting ideas and images that he could divert his class and engage them with. Regan’s laboratory assistant is listed as J.J. Sheehan.
In the English and mathematics department the instructor was D.J. Tierney. In November 1913, a teacher was required for pure mathematics including conic sections and calculus. The class was held on one evening per week, at 10 shillings per evening for the teacher. A class was also formed in advanced pure maths. Pure mathematics is mathematics, which studies entirely abstract concepts. As a subject it met the needs of those looking for careers in navigation, astronomy, physics, and engineering. In December 1913, D.J. Tierney’s job was on offer, with advertisements looking for an instructor in English and an introductory Maths course, two evening per week, for two hours each, at eight shillings per evening. The expansion of maths courses was also reflected in September 1914 when qualified teachers were sought for courses one evening per week in practical mathematics, applied mechanics, electrical engineering, second year mathematics and mechanics. The salary was 10 shillings per evening.
A new teacher in motor car engineering had to be secured in September 1912 at 10 shillings per evening. This class perhaps reflected on early cars such as the Ford Model T that was produced by Henry Ford’s Ford Motor Company from September 1908 to October 1927. It is generally regarded as the first affordable automobile.
The instructor in materia medica was J.J. Allen. The subject is a Latin medical term for the body of collected knowledge about the therapeutic properties of any substance used for healing (i.e. medicines). In the painting, decorating and drawing section, D. Fitzgibbon was the instructor who had a full technological certificate from the City and Guilds of London Institute. In plumbing, the instructor was T.M. Sloan. The tailor’s cutting section was instructed by W.P. Byrne. The typography section was headed up by their instructor J. Harvey who also had a certificate from the London Institute.
In 1913, as reported by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, to provide further training for instructors already qualified, other than summer courses, facilities were offered to enable instructors to attend special Saturday classes at convenient centres. Classes in structural engineering and workshop practice were held at the Crawford Municipal Technical Institute and were attended by nine and eight instructors respectively.
To be continued…
647a. Mechanics Laboratory, Crawford Municipal Technical Institute (source souvenir programme 1912)