Launch of Garret FitzGerald book on Irish primary education in the early 19th century

Last scholarly work completed by his son John

Dr Garret Fitzgerald: “He loved large data sets and finding a picture in there that he could deliver to anyone”

Dr Garret Fitzgerald: “He loved large data sets and finding a picture in there that he could deliver to anyone”

Wed, Nov 20, 2013, 01:00


The life and work of Garret FitzGerald was celebrated last night at the publication of his last scholarly work, a book on education that was completed by his son John.

The former taoiseach was writing about Irish primary education in the early 19th century when he died in May 2011. The work was near completion and it was decided that John FitzGerald should finish the book, which was launched in Dublin by the Royal Irish Academy. Mr FitzGerald said the launch of his father’s work was an “emotional” event for him. “I enjoyed finishing the book. There wasn’t that much to be done.”

The scholarly work involved a detailed analysis of old school reports. “He loved large data sets and finding a picture in there that he could deliver to anyone,” Mr FitzGerald said. “He sometimes made it exciting over dinner even for his grandchildren.”

Irish Primary Education in the Early Nineteenth Century reveals what education was like in 1824, the date when a British parliamentary inquiry was carried out into the Irish school system. The book contains a wealth of information including the fact that 90 per cent of schools were effectively private, paid for by parents who gave £1 and 10 shillings a year . It was launched by Minister of Education Ruairí Quinn, who said he was “honoured to celebrate Garret FitzGerald’s work”.