Across an Open Field was launched at Nicker National School, Pallasgreen Co. Limerick on Monday 12th December with the Thirty children from 3rd to 5th class who contributed to the book, revealing unique accounts and personal insights into the events of 1912-1922.
Over 300 children from 10 primary schools across 8 counties in Ireland and Northern Ireland investigated global and national happenings, local events and family stories in the 1912-1922 era. The children became action researchers within their own communities during a two-year project led by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Reconciliation Fund.
Children from Nicker National School were supported in their research by teacher Siobhan English, Principal Karen Franklin, writer Mary Branley and artist Ann Donnelly. They focused their investigations on local stories and family histories from The Titanic and World War I to the Easter Rising and The War of Independence.
The children learned about Thomas and Hannah O’ Brien, farmers from Pallasgreen, who were 3rd class passengers on the Titanic. Thomas ensured that Hannah, who was pregnant, got into a lifeboat and she made it to New York where their daughter was born. Patrick Bailey (4th class) was excited to learn that his great grandfather Paddy Ryan from Pallasgreen not only fought in World War I but was an Olympic champion hammer-thrower who held the world record for 25 years. Three of the children discovered they had relatives who were involved in the Dromkeen Ambush during the War of Independence including Dick O’Connell, great granduncle of Dennis O’Connell (5th class), the official commander of the IRA’s Mid-Limerick Flying Column.
‘Margaret Gould was my great grandmother and was a carrier of messages in the war of Independence. She was in Cumann na mBan and married a man called William Long. They had seven children, all boys. Tommy was the oldest and he was my grandfather. She died aged 93 and was given a 21-gun salute at her funeral and her coffin was draped with the Irish flag.’ – Caoimhe Long, 4th class