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Ireland in Schools

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New KS3 History PoS: Famine & emigration

A. Single lessons

B. Study units
C. Other resources
A. Single lessons

4.0. Who came to Britain, & when?

Birmingham Pilot Scheme

This is a three-part single lesson uses timeline maps to give an overview of the movement to, and settlement in, Britain by people from various parts of the world since the Romans. It

a. enables students to begin to question some generally accepted views about migration, and
b. provides an introduction to depth studies of immigration and settlement,
such as ‘What was it like to be an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century?’, see below.

1. Starter: Where are you from?
2. Who has come to Britain, and when?
3. How accurate are the statements about when people came to Britain?

4.1. Why did Baby Bridget die 1?
Wirral workshop

Focus: Who was responsible?
1. Divide the class into groups and give each group an edited version of the extract from Under the Hawthorn Tree, ‘The Famine’ by Roisin Hambly and a potato.
Allow each group 5-10 minutes to work out connections between the three items and list the connections as bullet points.
Feedback from each group to establish common themes, such as famine, potato, others.

2. Carefully distribute resources E-L among the groups. Groups to decide what conclusions can be drawn from the sources. Feedback.

4.2. Why did Baby Bridget die 2?
Nottingham Pilot Scheme

1. a. Make notes on how the main characters in Under the Hawthorn Tree reacted to Bridget’s death. You could include how they prepared for her funeral. Set it out like the table below:
b. Or, write a journal entry for Eily entitled: ‘May, 1846: The day we buried Bridget’. Express her feelings & fears, as well as recording the events of the day.
2. What circumstances surrounding the burial added to the mother’s grief?

3. Compare Bridget’s burial to the burial of the young man in source A.
4. Read the accounts of the Famine victims in sources B and C.
What similarities are there in the different accounts? (You may wish to include source A and the extract from the novel in your answer.)

4.3. Famine in Ireland: State aid or self-help?
Trafford Pilot Scheme

1. Look at source 1.
a. Why do you think Mr Cummins went into the countryside near Skibbereen ?
b. How do you think Mr Cummins felt about what he saw?
Choose some key words from his letter and include them in your answer.

2. Look at sources 2, 3 and 4.
a. What seems to have been Trevelyan’s attitude towards people starving in Ireland?
b. What do you think Trevelyan’s main concern was?
c. Does source 4 support Trevelyan’s views? Give reasons for you answer.

3. Look at source 5, the cartoon from Punch.
a. What is John Bull giving the Irish family?
b. What does the cartoon tell you about English attitudes towards Irish people and the Famine?

4.4. Probing an eviction
Northampton Pilot Scheme

1. Working in groups look at the picture, ‘The Ejectment’, 1848
You have to become the main people in the picture. Freeze frame.
2. Look at each group’s freeze frame and give it a mark from 1-5.
1 2 3 4 5
Not like the pictureExactly like the picture
3. Asking questions.
Make a list of questions which you need to find out in order to understand the importance of the scene in the picture.

B. Study units
4.5. The great Irish hunger
Famine, eviction & emigration
Northampton Pilot Scheme

1. Re-enacting an eviction
2. Sequencing relations between England and Ireland, 1750-1900
3. Role play - what happened after the Irish potato famine?
4. Analysis of sources - why did people leave Ireland?
5. Reflection - hunger today

4.6. Why is the Famine important in British & Irish history?
Nottingham Pilot Scheme

1. What was it like to live in Ireland in the early 19th century? 4
2. What happened to the potato crop in Ireland in the 1840s? 6
3. How did people deal with death during the Famine? 9
4. What effect did the Famine have on relations between Britain & Ireland?
Student workbook
Note for teachers

4.7. The Irish Famine, 1845-50
Liverpool Pilot Scheme

1. Liverpool’s links with Ireland 5. Role of the British government
2. Causes of the Famine. 6. Famine as a turning point
3. Course of the Famine: death & disease 7. Impact of the Famine on Liverpool
4. Famine relief

4.8. What was life like in Ireland during the19th century?
Nottingham Pilot Scheme

1. What was happening in England
2. Why was there a famine in Ireland?
3. What happened during the Irish Famine??
4. What were the results of the Famine?

4.9. The truth about coffin ships?
Ben Walsh

1. The memory of the coffin ships
2. A view from on board a coffin ship
3. Coffin ships on the web
4. How do we make our minds up?

4.10. A Mystery investigating the reasons for an Irish diaspora
Blackpool Pilot Scheme - thinking skills exercise

1. The exercise
2. Cards for sorting
3. Thinking words

4.11. What was it like to be an Irish immigrant in 19th century Britain?
Birmingham Pilot Scheme

1. What do the sources suggest about the hopes & fears of Irish immigrants?
2. What far did Irish immigrants stick together - settlement, worship, work?.
3. How far was there a uniform English, Welsh and Scottish response to Irish immigrants - settlement, religion, work?
4. What were the pros and cons of being an Irish immigrant in Britain in the 19th century?
Optional poll: How far does anything you have learned about Irish immigrants apply to immigrants in Britain today?

C. Other resources
4.12. An introduction to the Irish Famine PowerPoint

For the full versionwith sound:|_Secondary.ppt?wa=wsignin1.0

For a version with pictures only:

4.13. Famine: The hungry years

Ch. 10 of Ireland. A Graphic History by Morgan Llywelyn & Michael Scott, Element, 1-85230-627-0

4.14. Pictures of children in the Irish Famine

A. Healthy Ireland C. Famine strikes E. Destitution G. Relief
B. Inside Irish cabins D. Eviction F. Orphans H. Emigration

4.15. Visual sources: ‘Death stripped of all dignity’

Pictures contrasting the indignity often accompanying Famine burial with pre-Famine rituals.

4.16. Irish countryside in Irish art

1. The countryside before and after the Famine
2. Migration in the nineteenth century
3. The west of Ireland in the early twentieth century

4.17. Famine images

1. Starvation:
2. English Press:

3. Evaluation as of press pictures as evidence:

4.18. Famine scenes


4.19. Famine: British attitudes in cartoons

The English satirical journal, Punch, consistently under-estimated the severity of the crisis in Ireland and depicted the famine as a moral issue. It blamed indolence of the Irish for the continuation of the famine and for ‘sponging! on the British taxpayer. Hard work or industry (symbolised by a shovel) at home or emigration were Punch’s answers to poverty in Ireland. In the main, British press coverage of the Famine was coloured by anti-Irish prejudice and political and practical considerations. The general tenor was that the Irish were a backward race and lived on inferior food - the potato; they were ungrateful and disloyal; Ireland was a drain on British resources; and Britain was being flooded with Irish paupers. Punch, in particular, along with The Times ‘reinforced traditional animosities and alienated the sympathies of the British upper and middle classes.


4.20. Famine in poetry & song

1. The Irish Famine in modern poetry

‘At A Potato Digging’ & 'Digging' by Seamus Heaney

‘‘The Scar’ by John Hewitt ‘ 'Famine, a sequence’ by Desmond Egan

‘The Famine Road’ by Eavan Boland ‘The Famine’ by Roisin Hambly
‘Broken Silence’ by Margaret O’Beirne

2. Irish history in song: songs of hunger

The Famine Song (The Praties They Grow Small) Skibbereen Athenry

A New Song on the Rotten Potatoes A New Song Called the Emigrant’s Farewell to Donegal

The Kenmare Committee

4.21. Doolough
Wirral Pilot Scheme

A Playscript in Five Acts. A Cross-curricular, Multi-cultural Approach to the Great Irish Famine, 1845-52.
Set in a modern TV news room, it investigates the financial aid given by the Choctaw Indians to Famine victims in Co. Mayo.

4.22. What was it like to be an Irish immigrant in 19th century Britain? PowerPoint

Images used in corresponding study unit, 4.11 above. .ppt

4.23. Returning to Ireland?

Two mid-19th century paintings by Erskine Nicol of an Irishman contemplating emigration to America, Outward Bound, and returning home, Homeward Bound.

4.24. The Irish Famine

1. The Irish catastrophe 5. Doctrines of inaction
2. An artificial famine? 6. An act of Providence?
3. Ideological resistance 7. Famine fatigue
4. Political inertia 8. Find out more

4.25. The Irish potato Famine

An interactive Flash investigation of the Famine produced by schools in Ireland, covering rural dwelling, workhouse, school, docks.
Looking for a new link

4.26. Children of the Famine

This Teachnet (Ireland) project uses the experience of two fictional children to tell the Famine story. The setting is in the East of Ireland where the effects of the Famine are regarded as having been less than in the West and South-west. However, death from starvation and disease, evictions and forced emigration did occur on a large scale in the eastern counties also. The story is based on actual locations and events.

4.27. The Irish Potato Famine: a web quest

What comes to your mind when you think about Great Irish Famine? It is mass immigration, starvation, hunger, death, suffering and anger? This webquest is designed to investigate the causes of the Irish Famine.

4.28. Interpretations of the Famine

1. Nationalist interpretation: John Mitchel strongly condemned British policy in Ireland, 1860; 2. Revisionist response & interpretation: foreword to The Great Famine, 1956; 3. Post-revisionist interpretation: Cormac Ó Gráda on Famine historiography, 1988

4.29. How far, if at all, can British responses to Irish immigrants in Victorian Britain be called racist?

A review of how different historians have interpreted the reception Irish immigrants received in Victorian Britain.