Pupils from St Brigid’s Primary School in Haddington Road and Inchicore National School who contributed to the book celebrated the launch of ‘Across an Open Field’ last week in Dublin.
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.
Across an Open Field was launched at St Brigid’s Primary School in Haddington Road on 6th December. Twenty-two children from the school took part in the project, supported by teachers Rachel Murphy and Natalie Leyden and historians Terry Fagan and Derek Jones. One of their areas of research was the 1913 Lockout and the experience of children in the Dublin tenements during that time: ‘Many people in Dublin lived in tenements in 1913 and the conditions were very bad. Children went stealing clothes, rummaging in bins outside the rich houses. They would wear huge clothes or anything they found.’ They learned about the Kiddies Scheme, where children were sent to Britain until the strikes were over, and how the Catholic Church resisted the scheme because the children were likely to be housed with Protestant families.
At Inchicore National School, twenty-six children were supported in their research by teachers Gemma Kenny, Terry McCarty and Breda McEvoy and the book was launched there on 7th December. Children from 5th class explored what their school was like during the time of the 1916 Rising and paid a visit to Kilmainham Gaol where ‘there is still a sadness there to this day, because of the suffering there.’ They were excited to discover historical figures such as Elizabeth O’Farrell, a mid-wife from Holles Street Hospital who was one of three women to stay in the GPO until the end of the Rising, and Simon Donnelly, aka the Master Plumber, who fought in the War of Independence and escaped from Kilmainham Gaol along with Ernie O’Malley and Frank Teeling: ‘They were hiding in people’s back gardens ‘til night passed and search parties were out all over Dublin, but they never found them.’