The Department of Education’s decision not have history as a mandatory subject in the Junior Cert still raises concerns that many students may not then study it in the Leaving Cert, and so as citizens may have big gaps in knowledge of our country’s past and its impact on today.
Teachers give an understanding of Irish and world history. But better understanding tends to be later in life through enjoyable books for the non-academic reader. Irish newspapers do history articles like a recent one on how Watergate led to the resignation of US president Nixon in 1974.
Knowing of the 1913 lockout strike may help to see how it partially led to the 1916 Rising, and it in turn, led to the War of Independence. The cause and effects of events. The 1912 Titanic tragedy led to better safety at sea.
Many history books are now in ebook format; Ireland’s Pirate Trail by Des Ekin, O’Brien Press, Dublin, 2018; Martin McGuinness: The Man I Knew — interviews with those who knew or worked with him, gives a good understanding of Northern Ireland before and during the Peace Process. (Mercier Press, Cork, 2018). RMS Lusitania: It wasn’t & it didn’t by Cobh historian Michael Martin (The History Press, 2015) — a well-researched 160-page book on how the torpedo attack on the Lusitania in 1915 did not immediately bring the US into WWI. The US entered the war in 1917. It can still be written the US entered WWI after the liner’s sinking. It didn’t.
The US National Coalition for History has urged the US Congress to look into the management of records on the separation of children from illegal immigrant parents at the US/southern border earlier this year. 12,000 children were sent to detention centres set up in a hurry. It ended when former first ladies, their husbands and First Lady Melania Trump spoke out against her husband President Trump’s new policy. Returning the children to their parents was chaotic due to poor record keeping and the fact some centres were thousands of miles away. The NCA say the children may want the records later in life as to the where, how and why.
The past, which is history, helps us to understand the present and build a better future.