Hedge Schools in Ireland, History and Legend

003. Irish History Sessions from the Hedge Row
At the Irish Roots Cafe with www.Irishroots.com

History and Legend of Hedge Schools
For our first session in Irish History, we cover today
the History of Irish Hedge Schools.  We have two
sessions scheduled for this, so our next podcast will
cover Hedge Schools as well…..
Future Session Topics
Those who may be wondering what our future topics
will be, here are a few that we have scheduled:

Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf
The Vikings in Ireland (2)
Immigration and the Irish Famine
Devalera and his rise to power
Irish politics in the 20th century
The Flight of the Earls
Cromwell and the Confederation
Battle of the Boyne, Williamites and Jacobites
Origin and development of Irish Family Names
The Seannachie
The ancient Bardic Schools
St. Patrick

We welcome any comments or suggestions.
Listen to todays podcast at:

Back to the hedge schools.  We discuss today
how these schools came into being in the 17th
century, and how the penal laws came to be.
Who the outlaw teachers and students were,
and why they were forced into the Hedge rows.

Special Terms

Also of note are the terms poor scholar or stranger
in relation to the hedge school.  My favorite term
from these sessions is: I never carried the sod, which
meant I never went to the hedge school.

The schools were remarkable in that some of the
teachers taught Greek and Latin to the peasants,
as well as the standard arithmetic and reading.
Until the opening of national schools in the 19th
century the hedge schools were common.  By the
time of the famine in 1847, most had gone the way
of so many other old traditions.


We also cover, in separate sessions, the ancient
Bardic School traditions, and the monastic schools
in Ireland, and how they fared over time.

Here are a few of my notes from this session:

17th Century Decline

Through the mid century some openly Catholic schools
in operation, in Irish strongholds like Limerick.  As
peace came and Protestant rule and penal laws, they
could no longer operate. ‘Schooling’ then forced to rural
areas with informal teaching by laymen.  This was the
seed from which the hedge schools sprang.
The Hedge Schools became a part of the ‘Hidden Ireland’
in the 18th century.
We should remember that school was a luxury for most
poor Catholics and Protestants..
One letter tells of a few pitiful hidden Catholic schools in
operation at the end of 17th c. with only about 6 students

…..By the end of the 1600’s the old Bardic schools were
in ruin. Though many may have been illiterate, they were
not uneducated, note those who could recite volumes of
Irish verse, and they were still honored.  Yet, this too was
not allowed by some interpreters of the law.

There is much more on the podcast.  I thought it might
be helpful to include a few of my notes above.


…….So end the notes from the Hedge Row today.
You can see the entire series at
www.Irishroots.com. We have broadcast series
on Genealogy; Song; and Local History as well.

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Contact Peter and Mike for speaking engagements,
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Your Hedge School Session Leaders

Both Michael and Peter are graduates of Rockhurst University,
and have given lectures, exhibits, tours, and educational seminars
relating to Ireland since 1984 and prior.

Peter Reilly Adams
Peter  traces his roots to the County Fermanagh and County
Cavan. Growing up in the City of New York and influenced by
the Irish neigborhoods, he was educated in Catholic Schools
all his life and was a member of the Augustinian Recollect
Order. Now in Kansas City, Kansas, he has a Bacholar
Degree in  Philosophy, Theology and History and Masters
in Liberal Arts and Public Administration
He has taught at every level of education over the past 40
years and served as Assistant to the Mayor in Kansas City.
He was the host of the Irish Radio show, Celtic Crossings
and has led tours to Ireland for 23 years. He is a noted
musician and a talented vocalist.

Michael C. O’Laughlin
Mike descends from the O’Loughlins of Kilfenora, County Clare,
and the O’Donahues of Glenflesk, County Kerry. He also bears
Sullivan, Buckley, Kilmartin, Llewellyn and Kelliher roots; leads
tours ; and maintains a 3,000 volume Irish library, and
has authored more Irish books, newsletters and podcasts
than anyone in history*.
His public appearances include: National Public Radio
& television; Irish Family history seminars; Grand Marshall and
judge in St. Patricks Day parades; and as a founding member of
Irish cultural, bagpipe, and dance groups. He began the first
Irish Family history broadcast series on the web in 2006.

*60 books, 6 broadcast series with 200 episodes,
300+ newsletters, blogs, videos, DVD and CDs.

About Mike

Mike is the worlds most published author in his field, with over 40 books, 700 articles, two newsletters, a blog, 200 podcasts and 170 videos. He also publishes rare books like "The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters" and Keatings "History of Ireland". Mike also sings in the Irish (Gaeilge) Language, with 3 albums to his credit. Mike descends from the O’Loughlins of Kilfenora, County Clare, and the O’Donahues of Glenflesk, County Kerry and also bears Sullivan, Buckley, Kilmartin, Llewellyn and Kelliher roots. He has led tours to Ireland and maintains a 3,000 volume Irish library.
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