About History Ireland Hedge Schools


hedgeschoolHistory Ireland’s Hedge School series aims to bring history alive for today’s audiences by providing lively, unfettered debate on topics of interest to national and local communities.

From its beginnings at the Electric Picnic Festival and the Dublin Phizzfest in 2010, Hedge Schools are growing in popularity as the format appeals to a wide audience—the mixture of an expert panel and active audience participation in the debate makes a lively, entertaining and informative event.

The History Ireland Hedge School title reflects and harks back to the unofficial hedge schools of 18th and 19th century Ireland, where travelling teachers taught people in the open, before the official national school system was set up in the 1830s.


History Ireland Hedge Schools can be presented on a wide range of topics—of international, national and local interests. They provide a novel and interesting way to bring historical topics to life and add immeasurably to cultural life in Ireland. They appeal to special interest groups such as local history societies but also have a broad appeal to a wide range of audiences.

The History Ireland Hedge School is a simple format. It is a panel discussion of about seventy five minutes duration, involving four speakers—each expert on an aspect of the topic under discussion. The discussion, and audience involvement, is facilitated by Tommy Graham—editor of History Ireland, frequent presenter of Talking History on Newstalk radio and a regular contributor on the Moncrief show on Newstalk.


The National Library of Ireland hosted four Hedge Schools in 2011 and 2012, and is hosting a further Hedge Schools in 2013. Derry City Council, Donegal County Museum, Cavan County Museum, Clifden 400, DLRCC, and the Labour History Society in SIPTU (Services Industrial Professional Technical Union) are among other hosts of the Hedge Schools.


Past and forthcoming Hedge School topics include ‘1916 and all that’; ‘The two Saint Patrick’s’; 1641 Depositions’; ‘Whatever happened to the Citizen’s Army?’, ‘Professionalism in Irish Sport’; ‘Writing a history of ireland’; ‘The IRA and the Nazis’; ‘Cromwell, atrocities and black propaganda’; ‘Suburbia in Ireland: utopia or distopia?’; ‘‘No sex in Ireland until Telefís Éireann’? 50 Years of RTÉ  and Brian Boro and the Battle of Clontarf: interpro or international?; the War of Independence: Four glorious years or a squalid sectarian conflict?; Home Rule: lost opportunity or sell-out? The Ulster Covenant 1912: an exercise in mass-democracy or reaction? The Great Famine: ‘the visitation of God’? Who do the Irish think they are? 50 years on: JFK, Ireland & the world; The Erne scheme; Volunteers 1913: two traditions or one?; To hell or to Kimmage’: planning outcomes of the 1913 Church Street disaster; Protestant republicans & Catholic royalists: legacies of the Glorious Revolution.

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