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Ireland in Schools

Making learning fun & challenging
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New url, 28/03/2012
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The Brendan tapestry*
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Florence or Grace?*
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Primary history: further possibilities
Key Stage 1: Significant people

At Key Stage 1, saints are popular, particularly St Patrick, in various garbs as the Patron Saint of Ireland; and St Brendan, the Navigator, with helpful links to RE.

For secular lives exciting questions of historical interpretation and personal development are raised by the careers of

  • Brian Boru (national hero or merely another feuding Irish king?); and
  • the ‘Pirate Queen’, Grace O’Malley, who met Elizabeth I (collaborator with invading Tudors or nationalist symbol and feminist icon?) - a welcome alternative to Florence Nightingale?
Key Stage 2: Turning points
At Key Stage 2 critical turning points in Ireland’s history co-incide with requirements of the National Curriculum, providing opportunities to build on work done in Key Stage 1:

1. Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings in Britain

The Vikings,Ireland and Brian Boru: the Viking presence in Ireland raises questions about the nature not only of the Viking migrations but also of Irish society and religious life and Ireland’s links with Britain.

2. Britain and the wider world in Tudor times

Conquest and compromise in Tudor Ireland: the Tudor conquest of Ireland - ‘Elizabeth I’s Vietnam’ - and the Irish responses, personified in the careers of Grace O’Malley and ‘Red’ Hugh O’Donnell, highlight the differences between English and Irish society - Protestant v. Catholic, arable v. pastoral.

3. Victorian Britain

Famine and migration: the experience of death and migration during the Irish Famine illuminates the nature of state and society in Victorian Britain, while in 1916 the Easter Rising and Irish participation in crucial battles on the Western Front underline the complexities of loyalties in the UK.

4. Britain since 1930
Ireland during the Second World War: the different responses of Northern Ireland and Éire to World War II - and to the plight of Jewish refugees; offer a different perspective on Britain since 1930, especially as two historical novels, Safe Harbour and Faraway Home, provide alternatives to Carrie’s War.