Language and Education

Up to this time and long after - probably until the famine - the ordinary language of the people was Irish. Education for Catholics was provided by the so called hedge schools and doubtless the Protestants ran private schools for their children. Hely Dutton speaks of the Latin schools which gave a good education up to the seventeen-sixties, but had almost disappeared. For half a century it was in fear and trembling that the Catholics provided schooling for their families. There was a price on the schoolmaster's head. The Old Irish ecclesiastical and lay universities were swept away in the sixteenth century and with them more or less disappeared the written Irish tradition, but the oral tradition clung on. The MacEgan school of Duniry disappeared about 1600 but strangely enough we find their most treasured possession, the Book of Duniry as well as the Book of Hy Many in the care of Edmund O'Kelly of Castlepark (or Tonelig) in Creagh about 1730 showing that some of the Irish landowners had not forgotten their heritage.

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