Learning in the Hedge

From about 1695, there were strict laws in Ireland which forbade Catholics and other “non-conforming” children from regular education.

These were called hedge schools or ‘scoileanna scairte’ in Irish.

Amazingly the level of education in these unusual schools were top class.

Most of the teachers in hedge schools were men although there were women. However, the education in hedge schools varied from school to school. Most hedge schools taught reading, writing and arithmetic. Many schools taught Greek and Latin.

One such school master was James Ball (b.1761), a local book keeper, court clerk and legal eagle.

He kept impeccable records of his workings – astronomy, mathematics, poetry as well as receipts and accounts for local merchants.

A large selection of his beautifully illustrated Manuscripts, looked after by Jim Smith, are on display during National Heritage Week – keep an eye out on these events.