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Early Education in Garrafrauns
In the early 1700's the Penal Laws forbade Catholics to set up school or attend such schools. As a result ordinary people were dependent on travelling school masters for their basic learning. Most of these schools were out in the open air often on the sunny side of a hedge, hence the name "hedge schools". The rich Catholic merchant families however could afford to send their children to Irish colleges in Rome, Salamanca and Paris.
Later, when the laws against education were less strictly enforced, school was taught in a cabin, a barn, or any building that might be given or lent for the purpose, but the name ' hedge school' was still retained:
 Garrafrauns NS 1886Garrafrauns NS 1886
The scholars paid him (the master) half-a-crown, or sometimes five shillings a quarter. Sometimes food such as eggs, butter, or meat was given instead of money. The bigger the number of pupils the more the teacher earned, so many schools were very crowded. Nevertheless the teachers, like those around them, were usually quite poor.
Books were very scarce and expensive. As a result the pupils spent much of their time in ' rehearsing', or learning by saying aloud together. Writing was done on slates with chalk. Pupils also learned arithmetic, book keeping and various ways of measuring. It was important for farmers to be able to measure the area of land they rented or the amount of oats they had sown because the tithe collector took his share for Protestant clergyman.
In winter, the schoolmaster moved from place to place living on the hospitality of the people, earning a little perhaps by turning his hand to farm work, or, when he dared, by teaching the children of his host.
Some schools only operated during the summer but some stayed open during the winter. Attendance was usually higher in the wintertime as there was less work to do on the farms at this time of year. Every winter's day each pupil brought two sods of turf for the fire. Around this fire, especially during cold and severe weather, the scholars were entitled to sit in a circle by turns around the fire.
Even though the British Government provided for education in Ireland from 1831 onwards, few such schools were set up in the Archdiocese of Tuam. The limited official curriculum was taught through English and the teaching of the Catholic religion was not permitted.
As a result Catholics were forbidden by  the local Archbishop of Tuam John MacHale to attend such schools. Young people in the area had little option but attend unofficial "hedge schools" the name carried forward from penal times. 3 such schools existed in the area, one in Garrafrauns, anotherin Kinmacnella and another on the border of Shanballymore and Mountdelvin.