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The first Tuesday of the first full week in May is National Teacher Day, so this seems an opportune occasion to recall a courageous, but little-known group of teachers and schoolmasters who sacrificed comfort and security for the sake of truth, goodness, and beauty in seventeenth-century Ireland.
From very early days, classical education was highly valued in Ireland.
The Cromwellian war in Ireland lasted from 1649–1653, but it left bitter feelings among the Irish which Seamus Mac Manus, in , or Irish speaking parts of Ireland.
During this time, the Anglo-Irish Parliament, controlled by England, passed a code of laws called “Laws in Ireland for the Suppression of Popery,” commonly known as the Penal Code.
Knowledge of Greek among Irish scholars and priests was not uncommon.Irish parents were also forbidden to send their child out of the country to be educated.This restriction was meant to deplete the number of priests in Ireland, who were generally educated in French seminaries.Like the pernicious Apartheid laws of South Africa, the Penal Code was aimed specifically at a particular group: native Irish Catholics, three-fourths of the population of Ireland at that time.By the seventeenth century, there was a well-established commitment to classical education in Ireland dating back to the early medieval era.
By the seventh or eighth century, Ireland had a fully developed written language with an elaborate grammatical structure.