Scholars captured by the dreaded attendance officer!

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Where: Unknown

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When: 01 January 1910

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The dreaded School Attendance (aka Truancy) Officer was the terror of all those who might be tempted to mitch from school in years gone by. In this interesting Mason image, titled in the catalogue as "'Mitchers', four young boys, different ages, with school attendance officer and bicycle", we see a clergyman who appears to have captured a handful of young scamps. They are undoubtedly from different social circumstances : two with bare feet, two with shoes/boots, all with headgear and the big fella with a smug smile! Did they all get six of the best?

The general consensus is that this image (or perhaps just its title) could be at least partially "staged". The Irish Education Act 1892, for the first time, made it compulsory for children children aged between 6 and 14 to attend school. Captured within a decade or so of that act, it seems plausible this image was used to "illustrate" the change in approach. Certainly only one of the lads looks even slightly bothered at being "caught". And, unless the chap at the back is some kind of prefect or enforcer, he seems an unlikely type :) While we have not yet established a location for this image, sissonni suggests that the successing Mason image [M56/8] was captured at the same place and time...

Collection: Mason Photographic Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1890-1910

NLI Ref: M56/7

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 85535
thomasholmesmason thomasmayne thomashmasonsonslimited lanternslides nationallibraryofireland truants mitchers truancyofficer schoolattendanceofficer clergyman bicycle boys barefeet mitch lang onthemitch onthelang onthehop truancy

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    • 14/May/2018 07:48:00

    Is it likely that a clergyman would have been a School Attendance Officer? I doubt it.

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    John Spooner

    • 14/May/2018 07:59:39

    My great-grandfather was a School Attendance Officer. It was just one of many posts he held, another of which was Inspector of Nuisances.

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    Dr. Ilia

    • 14/May/2018 08:00:06

    Great discovery and photo

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    abandoned railways

    • 14/May/2018 08:13:35

    The three at the front are wearing hand-me -downs. The boy on the left was from a different social class entirely. Totally posed.

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    Carol Maddock

    • 14/May/2018 08:28:49

    Staged, do we think? So that when Mr Mason's lantern slides were shown around the country, this one would strike fear into kids on the mitch, or with mitching plans hatching in their hearts?

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    • 14/May/2018 08:30:17

    The Great God of Google Image Search (how on earth does that work btw?) points towards this Quite Interesting page - (about half way down)

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 14/May/2018 09:11:30 How about a roving Christian Brother?

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    • 14/May/2018 09:33:52 Possibly, but looking at the guy in the photo, I doubt if he'd strike fear into any mitching schoolboy. His physical build, demeanor and that fancy hat makes him look too fey for hunting down recalcitrant ragamuffins. He looks like a Christian Brother we had for a very brief period in Youghal back in the 60s - straight out of the Christian Brothers training academy he was sent like an early Christian into the lions den of our class. He lasted a week and was never seen again.

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    • 14/May/2018 10:29:16

    I wonder if the next picture - is taken in the same location? The brick pattern and the window sill seem similar.

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    • 14/May/2018 10:42:58

    Should have Truancy Officers in Tasmania. The dregs might have a chance graduating high school. So many stop at year 10 and proudly throw on a tool belt.

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    • 14/May/2018 11:07:31

    This comes to mind at first glance:

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    • 14/May/2018 11:42:51 YES! Flickr is sometimes amazing! -

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 14/May/2018 19:49:23

    Excellent all. And thanks for the "clue" on location. Likely a useful stepping stone to more information! In the meantime I've updated the description with the key inputs from today....

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    O Mac

    • 14/May/2018 21:53:39

    Possible inside.... same bearded priest

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    • 14/May/2018 22:09:41

    Suggestion for location: there are several Mason interior photos of boys and priests at Blackrock College. I could not find any similar walls on streetview, but someone will know.

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    • 15/May/2018 05:18:33

    Ausgezeichnetes Bild.

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    • 15/May/2018 06:04:43

    I like it

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    domenico milella

    • 15/May/2018 07:48:51

    Congratulation for your beautiful Album.