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The Irish Hedge Schools: Rejection, resistance and Creativity (1695-1831)

Abstract : This article will study how England's complete subjection of Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick and the imposition of the Penal Laws , and despite official prohibition, encouraged the setting up of an educational network for the common people known as the Hedge Schools. Such alternative and underground system had drawn its influence from the key actors of the then collapsed Gaelic Order (the members of the learned community, mostly court poets). Hedge Schools entertained a threatened culture (the Classics) and language (Irish), but also provided for the ferment and the propagation of political trends paving the way for 19th century nationalism. The origins of those schools, dating back from the medieval academies, and their development in a troubled historical context will be first analysed. The character of the schoolmasters, their training, teaching skills,subject matters and cultural background will then be in focus. Thirdly, the way in which those sometimes famous scholars have entered folk tradition and become representatives of Irish identity will be detailed and put in perspective. As a conclusion, this article will reflect on the gradual disappearance of the Hedge Schools after 1834 when they were replaced by the National Schools, and how the latter took over most of the key characteristics of their predecessors in popular culture before and since Independence.
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Contributor : Anne-Marie O'Connell <>
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Hedge Schoolmasters.pdf
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Anne-Marie O'Connell. The Irish Hedge Schools: Rejection, resistance and Creativity (1695-1831). Revue Civilisations, 2011, Le rejet/Rejection, pp.55-86. ⟨halshs-01325950⟩



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