Children at centre of 1916 projects

Children will collect stories about local customs and history in a digital-age repeat of a 1930s folklore project as part of the 1916 centenary schools programme.

The initiative is one of dozens to broaden the new generation’s understanding not just of the history of the Easter Rising, but also of living conditions for their descendants at the time.

The Department of Education is issuing details this week to all 4,000 primary and second-level schools of the projects, resources and supports organised as part of the Government’s programme to mark the centenary of the major event of modern Irish history.

As well as a national flag for every school, being presented from next week by members of the Defence Forces to all primary schools, printed copies of the Proclamation of the Republic will be sent to all schools. Every school is being invited to write a new proclamation to reflect values, ideals and aspirations of the young generation of 2016, and to share their ideas.

They will be encouraged to display the tricolour prominently on Proclamation Day, on March 15, 2016. The idea is for pre-schools, schools and colleges to set aside time on the day to commemorate 2016, celebrate the present and imagine the future.

For budding historians, there will also be a chance to develop the relevant skills as they use Census and other resources developed by the National Archives and other partners, with link-ups with local historical societies also being encouraged. Not only will there be a chance to teach research skills to find out and tell the stories of how their ancestors lived a century ago, similar exercises will be encouraged in respect of pupils whose families lived outside Ireland at the time, highlighting the importance of wider historical events outside Ireland during the period.

In a modern repetition of the work of the Irish Folklore Commission, whose schools collection features the fruits of 50,000 primary pupils’ endeavours, children will be invited to gather local and family history and folklore in their community. While the work in the 1930s was compiled in copybooks, usually by the pupil with the neatest handwriting, the Schools Collection 2016 will feature essays put together in computers, but also artwork, video and audio files.

Courses have already been provided, and are still available, for teachers to brush up on their knowledge of the events of 1916, and on current historical thinking around them.

The department is partnering with various organisations to run competitions – many on an all-Island basis - for young people to submit historical essays, short dramas, poems, songs and art around the theme of Ireland a century ago, but some focus on their vision of the country in 2116.

The details are issuing the week before a State funeral is being held in Cork for executed Irish Volunteers organiser Thomas Kent.

Mr Kent’s remains were removed in June from the grounds of Victoria (now Collins) Barracks, which had since been incorporated into Cork Prison. Thomas Kent was buried at the site in May 1916.

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