"Catholic children met in hedge schools in the depths of the country "

The Penal Law of 1702-19 banned education for Roman Catholics.  The Irish refused to use English-sponsored schools which were intended to Anglicise the children. Instead, they sent their children to hedge schools where they were secretly taught Irish history and culture.  In 1826, of 550,000 children at school, 403,000 were in hedge schools.  In 1832, state elementary schools, acceptable to the Irish, were instituted.