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1910 New Catholic Dictionary
A term which originated in Ireland during the 18th century and denoted the proscribed gatherings of Catholic children and their teachers, when the repression of the Catholic schools by the Penal Laws made secret meetings necessary for the continuation of Catholic education. The forbidden classes were held in the open fields, generally near a hedge for shelter, hence thc name.
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Entry for 'Hedge-Schools, Irish'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ncd/h/hedge-schools-irish.html. 1910.