Revolution in learning about Irish history sees events in new ways

School students are learning about the Irish revolution in a new way through photos, documents, and maps showing some of the events and personalities in a different light.

At the exhibition launch are project co-ordinator Helene O'Keeffe, former UCC vice-president Grace Neville, and editors Mike Murphy and John Crowley.

An exhibition touring Cork and Kerry second-level schools offers a taste of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, a book being finalised at University College Cork to offer a new approach to how the tumultuous events of a century ago are understood.

The tour was launched at St Angela’s College in Cork yesterday, an appropriate location as it is the former workplace of Mary MacSwiney. Caitríona Crowley, a transition year student, explained that the co-founder of Cumann na mBan’s Cork branch was arrested for her links to the revolutionary movement while teaching a maths class at the school in May 1916 after the Easter Rising.

Project co-ordinator Helene O’Keeffe will speak to students at the end of each school’s week-long exhibition about the research running through the atlas, much of it highlighting the subject areas available to students at UCC. As well as the history and geography connections, the statistics underpinning many of the illustrations may be used to teach maths and numeracy.

“Central to the exhibition are highly original maps which provide new and exciting ways for a younger generation to engage with Ireland’s revolutionary past,” said John Crowley of UCC’s geography department, a co-editor of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution.

Students Julie Monahan and Myrial Casey at St Angelas College, St Patricks Hill, Cork, for the official launch of the ‘Atlas of the Irish Revolution’ travelling exhibition for schools.

The large-format book features the work of more than 70 historians, from UCC, around Ireland, and international scholars. It is due to be published by Cork University Press next March and features maps devised by the UCC geography department.

Those in the exhibition include the locations of suffragette branches in 1913 and 1914, locations associated with Michael Collins during the War of Independence and key events during the Civil War in Kerry.

St Angela’s College fourth-year student Alison Hegarty said the illustrations will help visual learners such as herself to engage with large amounts of information easier than they might from long pages of text in books.

“One of the ones I found most interesting shows where children who died in 1916 inner city Dublin, and their ages,” said Alison. “It shocks you to read, and it’s good to be reminded that the Rising didn’t just affect political figures, but also innocent children.”

Some of the maps, archival documents, and old photos —many from the Irish Examiner’s photographic archive — will feature in a digital resource for second-level teachers being developed by Ms O’Keeffe. Samples of maps from the book related to the 1916 Rising will be available from January at, an online collaboration between UCC and the Irish Examiner.

Positions occupied during the Easter Rising by Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army and Crown Forces, in a map from the Atlas of the Irish Revolution. Picture: Cork University Press/University College Cork

An Irish-language version of the touring exhibition is also open for all-Irish second-level schools to host.

Helene O’Keeffe will give a free public lecture on the subject of second-generation memory of the 1916 Rising at UCC’s geography building at 6pm tomorrow, the latest in a series of ‘Reconsidering the Rising’ lectures organised by UCC school of history.

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