Hedge Schools Beyond the Shrubbery – Episode 7 – Preserving Culture and Protecting Diversity


This episode offers a discussion on the proliferation of Educate Together schools and Gaelscoileanna throughout Ireland as a response to perceived shortfalls in or, in defence of certain cultural or religious freedoms. Educate Together schools foster an equality-based approach, while Gaelscoileanna are anxious to retain the Irish language as a fundamental aspect of Irish life and culture. Our discussion provides a greater understanding of what Gaelscoileanna and Educate Together offer.

Professor Áine Hyland is Emeritus Professor of Education and former Vice-President of University College Cork, Ireland. She has been active in education circles in Ireland and internationally for over 50 years. In the 1970s she was a founder member of the Dalkey School Project – Ireland’s first multi-denominational national school since the foundation of the State. She was subsequently Secretary and then Chair of Educate Together. She has been a member of various national education boards and committees and has published books and articles on the history of Irish education, educational policy, educational disadvantage and curriculum and assessment. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and in recognition of her contribution to Irish education, she has been awarded a number of Honorary Doctorates.

Seán Ó hArgáin is a recently retired Primary Gaelscoil Principal. He began teaching in Edenmore on Dublin’s northside in 1987 and taught in a number of Dublin schools, including his first permanent position in Drimnagh, before moving home to rural South Kerry where he spent ten years as a shared learning support teacher and mainstream class teacher. He moved to Kilkenny City in 2002 where he took up a teaching position in Gaelscoil Osraí, being appointed Principal in 2008 and serving in that position until his retirement in October 2022. Seán has served at national level in the education sphere as Deputy President of the Union of Students in Ireland in 1986-87, on the national executive and county chairperson of the Irish Learning Support Association, various branch officerships in the Irish National Teachers Organisation, as director of Gaeloideachas and as Uachtarán of Gaeloideachas from 2019 to 2022. He is currently a member of the national Teaching Council. He has also served as a board member of state board and cross-border agency, Foras na Gaeilge, from 2015-209. Seán is a former member of Kilkenny Borough Council from 2004 to 2014 and served as elected Mayor of Kilkenny City from 2012-2013.

Series devised and produced by Berni Dwan with additional production support from Declan McGlade. Made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television License Fee.