To create the publication, the children became action researchers within their own communities, each school taking a different direction as the children found their own areas of interest and exploration. Several schools engaged a local historian to support them in their research and the long-term nature of the project provided the scope for the children to look beyond the received myths and perceptions around historical events.
‘Across an Open Field’ captures the children’s fascinations across global and national happenings, local events and family stories in the 1912-1922 era. Eva Lawless (4th class) and Amy Lawless (6th class) from Lisnafunchin NS in Co. Kilkenny, discover that their great grandmother used to hide guns and bullets in her shop on Grafton Street during the Easter Rising. Pupils from 4th class in St Brigid’s PS, Dublin 4, explore what life was like for children living in Dublin tenements during the 1913 Lockout: ‘Children went stealing clothes, rummaging in bins outside the rich houses. They would wear huge clothes or anything they found.’
Grace Bermingham (6th class), Northampton NS, Co. Galway, learns that her great grandfather fought in the War of Independence and ended up in Dartmoor Prison where he wrote to his parents that he was ‘toddling along’. At Inchicore NS, 5th class children researched 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.’ Limerick man Paddy Ryan fought in World War I and was an Olympic champion hammer-thrower who held the world record for 25 years. Patrick Bailey (4th class) from Nicker NS, Pallasgreen, Co. Limerick, was excited to learn that this local hero was his great grandfather.