The Hedge Schools of Wicklow by Thomas O’Rourke
The Hedge Schools of Wicklow by Thomas O'Rourke is a history of hedge school education in County Wicklow, during Penal suppression. A time when hedge schoolmasters were forced to conceal their classes in hedgerows. It is also a social history of an Irish community that struggle to preserve its heritage, language and culture.
Hedge schoolmasters, provided an invaluable link to our Gaelic and Bardic past, they were the principal educators and parents made huge sacrifices to have their children taught by these independent tutors. Despite these restrictions, hedge schools flourished throughout the country and their masters were held in high esteem withing their communities.
The National School system of 1831 heralded the steady decline of hedge schools. A new order was established and the Catholic Church aligned itself with the state in a final condemnation of the hedge school teachers, however, the Irish people still regarded them with great fondness. It is from these roots that we, as a nation have evolved to become part of a greater European and world community, while still preserving our unique national and cultural identity.